tishaturk: (Default)
I try to keep this journal focused on research-related stuff rather than teaching stories, but I think that once you read this story you will see why I am making an exception.

So last week in Fan Cultures & Fan Creativity we were talking about representations of fandom—we had groups looking at posts from [community profile] as_others_see_us and OTW’s news of note—and Orlando Jones came up in conversation, as he is wont to do.

One of my students decided to tweet him to let him know, and despite our classroom’s crappy WiFi, she prevailed! And then this happened:


But then she didn’t get a response! So today in class she tried again. I cannot adequately describe the hilarity of this scene—she's composing away on her laptop, reading out her hashtags as she types them, and everyone in the room is exhorting her "COME ON COME ON" "OMG" "HAS HE RESPONDED YET"...

#wecanthandlethis is a pretty accurate description of class at that point; we were essentially having a 25-person meltdown. There was actualfax shrieking, some of it from me. The collective sleep deprivation did not help (Dear students: GET SOME SLEEP), but I suspect that even if we’d all been well-rested we would have been LOSING OUR MINDS. And then, as we were sitting there, he favorited the tweet. At which point I dismissed class, because I could not top that. We were done.


Of course I had to post.

And he favorited that tweet too. BRB DYING.

AND THEN when I logged into Tumblr I found that another one of my students had followed up on Tumblr:

Her tags: #I didn't make any shrill noises when I got this notification #oh no #not at all #orlando jones is my favorite

I just. I HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO CAN, as the kids say these days. I still don't have the faintest idea how he found out about the class, but I do not fucking care, because this is the most surreal and hilarious thing that has happened to me in I don't know how long, and I LOVE IT. And the class was in absolute hysterics. AS YOU CAN PERHAPS IMAGINE.

tishaturk: (pen)
...but I have just discovered, upon re-reading, that I hid the first paragraph of this chapter in the middle of page 10. Which is good, because it means I've already written it, but also a bit embarrassing, because honestly, what was I thinking?

The book, in case you were wondering, is still not writing itself.

I am strongly tempted to have a beer with lunch. I don't even like beer.
tishaturk: (TV: Buffy)
I keep coming across things I want to share with the students in my fandom class--bits of fandom history, fandom meta, stuff like that--so last night in a fit of... something... I made a Tumblr for our class. When I showed it to them this morning, the reactions ranged from "Whatever, dude" to "...wait, my teacher knows about Tumblr?" to "Awww, you're tracking tags and everything!" Most of them seemed proud, if perhaps slightly bemused.

This is an experiment, and its success will depend largely on what the students decide to do with it. But hey, three people are already following (and class let out less than an hour ago), so who knows? I think it could be fun.

Much of the class's online activity will take place in private online spaces, but the Tumblr is public, obviously--so if you're curious about what we're reading and discussing in the class, it will be a good way to eavesdrop.

And if you're on Tumblr and want to play: I will be tracking the tag #fandom ic. If you see something you think we'd be interested in, tag it when you reblog so I can take a look. :D
tishaturk: (professional geek)
I am super-embarrassed about the fact that I haven't responded to most of the comments on my last entry from over a month ago. *facepalm* The new semester is settling down now, so I should have a chance to get back to that... any day now...

Speaking of teaching: I'm teaching a class about fandom this semester! And it occurred to me that some of you might be interested in seeing what that class will entail (besides lots of classroom discussion, which sadly I cannot reproduce for you but which has thus far been pretty energetic and occasionally hilarious).

Syllabus: Fan Cultures and Fan Creativity

The class is exclusively for first-year students as part of UMM's Intellectual Community program, our version of the first-year seminar program that's common at many small liberal arts colleges. I have a really delightful group; as with any class, especially of first-year students, I have a mix of students who are reallyexcitedtotalkaboutthisstuffomg!, students who are visibly engaged but not as comfortable diving into the flow of discussion, and students who are clearly wishing that they could write down their thoughts and review them once or twice before hitting post. (Having been in the latter category for most of my college career, I empathize.) But we're working up to the first writing assignment, which I hope will give some of the hard-core introverts a better opportunity to show what they can do.

Thanks to everybody who suggested assignments, activities, and readings; I was unable to implement all the terrific ideas that people shared with me, largely because needing to stay focused on the book means I have to limit the number of things that require a lot of behind-the-scenes work for me. But I already have a list of things I want to do or try when teaching the course next time, and I welcome further input and suggestions!
tishaturk: (TV: Buffy)
I'm working on a section about how vidwatchers decide what vids to watch, including things like "I will watch any vid made by X" (which is true for me of... gosh, an awful lot of vidders, honestly, which I guess is what happens to those of us who are fans of vidding and vidders as well as specific shows).

This has led me off on what may turn out to be a total tangent about what for lack of a better term I'm calling fannish migration, meaning migration from one show to another--not necessarily vid-specific. I'm thinking of something like, for example, the movement of a fair number of fic writers from Due South to SGA. (And I gather there was some overlap with Sentinel there, too, though that was enough before my time that I couldn't articulate a timeline.)

What other examples can you think of? Either general examples, or specific writers or vidders that you've moved from show to show with?

They might be direct or indirect; my sense is that Due South --> SGA was fairly direct in that a lot of people were still writing DS well after the 1999 finale and then jumped on SGA when it appeared in 2004 (but I was not in either of those fandoms, so my perceptions may not be accurate!). Buffy --> Firefly is another one. But I wonder about other, less obvious connections. I feel like I saw a lot of names I recognized from Buffy in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles fandom, but maybe that's just because those were the people I was already hanging out with, fannishly speaking?

I should probably admit that this inquiry is also motivated by thinking to myself, when confronted by the periodic appearance of Teen Wolf on my Tumblr dash, "Where did all these people come from?"
tishaturk: (book)
At present, the draft of the chapter about the process of vidding is almost exactly 8,000 words. The section on song choice is about 1,600 words--so, about 20% of the chapter.

Yeah, that seems about right.

(Both the chapter as a whole and this section will eventually be much longer; I'm in the Shitty First Draft™ stage where most of what I've written is underdeveloped and the rest is cryptic shorthand comprehensible only to me. Or, well, let's hope it's still comprehensible to me when I come back to this chapter, because if not this is going to be a really short book.)
tishaturk: (book)
As of this afternoon's trip to the post office, I have a contract with the University of Iowa Press for a book tentatively titled The Ecology of Vidding.


My deadline is Dec. 31, which means that between now and then nobody is allowed to ask me "Shouldn't you be working on the book?" because everybody already knows that the answer is yes and if I'm not doing so it's because I'm doing teaching prep and/or I'm completely fried. I'm going to have to apologize to my students pre-emptively on the first day of class. *facepalm*
tishaturk: (pen)
I spent yesterday morning looking through the sixteen (!) pages of outtakes from Toward an Ecology of Vidding" and trying to figure out how many of those paragraphs/sentences/fragments deserve an attempt to incorporate them into the book. (Verdict: not many. Currently feeling extra-grateful for beta readers who insist on coherence and concision.)

I did, though, have some notes on Louisa Stein & Kristina Busse’s "Limit Play: Fan Authorship between Source Text, Intertext, and Context," a really smart essay that has what I think are some terrific insights about fannish celebrations of repetition:

quotes, thoughts, and Calvin & Hobbes under the cut )
tishaturk: (OTW)
I'll be doing a livecast Google hangout this afternoon, a conversation about the DMCA sponsored by the Daily Dot and the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture.

Rebecca Tushnet and I will be talking about our roles in the fight for the recent DMCA exemption for vidders and other remix video artists; you can read more about us and the other panelists at the Daily Dot.

You can watch the livecast at the Daily Dot or at NAMAC.

To comment or ask questions via Twitter, use the hashtags #InterActs #DMCA, or direct questions to @InterActsOnline.

After the conversation, the Daily Dot and NAMAC will post summaries of the broadcast and/or embed the videos on their respective websites, so if you miss the livecast (apparently some people have to be at work on a Wednesday afternoon—imagine that), you can catch up later.
tishaturk: (keyboard)
One of the nicest thing about the guest lecture I did earlier this week was that, because the students in the audience had been studying vids and vidding for a couple of weeks already, I didn't have to go through the basics of What Is A Vid?, the way I usually have to do at conference presentations and even research presentations on my own campus. Such a relief!

When I asked the students in the audience what a vid is, a hand shot up immediately: "It's a visual essay that stages an argument!" Another student added that it's not just a visual essay; music matters too. So, yes, we might say a multimedia essay that stages an argument. And from there I went on to poke at the definition from another direction: for whom is the argument staged? how is it staged? Answering those questions is, for me, where things start to get really interesting.

One of the exciting things about working on vids right now is that we have this solid working definition that Coppa articulates in the essay linked above, but we also have lots of room—and lots of reasons—to expand and negotiate and explore that definition, which is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. A multimedia essay that stages an argument: What does that definition leave out? What kinds of vids, what kind of fannish activity through vidding, does it leave out?

The definition (and especially the subsequent claim about vids being "akin to arts criticism") implies, I think, that the argument is about the film or television show from which the video clips are taken. This is pretty clearly true the vast majority of the time, but it's not true all the time, right? To take just one example: To say that "I Swear" is an argument about Smallville may not be inaccurate, exactly, but it is certainly, er, incomplete. And if a vid received with as much joyful shrieking as "I Swear" isn't covered by that definition, then the definition needs further refining. Vids like "Anything For Love" and other meta-vids clearly make arguments, but, again, they're not just arguments about the source of the clips.

Looking back at that last paragraph and the words I chose for it, I find myself asking: What is it that we're talking about when we talk about source? What does that language do for us, and what can't it do? When vidders talk about source, it typically means the thing that's ripped or downloaded and then clipped and edited to make a vid. But what would it mean—artistically, legally—to think of the source of vids (some vids? all vids?) being vidders themselves or fandom itself, the way that the source of a painting is the painter's ideas and vision? What happens if we think of and talk about shows/films as tools or materials, like words or paint or the fabric that gets cut up for quilts?

Maybe this is just semantics. But I think about what a difference it makes to some of my students, when they're working on research papers, to stop thinking of secondary materials as sources and start thinking of their own questions as the sources of the paper, and I'm not so sure.
tishaturk: (professional geek)
I just read Rebecca Tushnet's "Judges as Bad Reviewers: Fair Use and Epistemological Humility," a fascinating and highly readable analysis of the ways in which copyright fair use cases turn on judges' willingness to acknowledge that texts can be interpreted in many ways; Tushnet uses vids as case studies. (Full disclosure: I'm cited in it! That is never not going to be exciting.)

Given last week's post on best vs. favorites, I was particularly struck by this bit, which is about the importance of explaining criteria for judgment:

[W]hen it comes to literary judgments, the bad reviewer is the one who insists that a work has only one meaning, and announces the bottom line as if it were an absolute. A good reviewer explains the sources of her judgment, making room for other interpretations, which may be one reason that a well-written negative review can be extremely helpful to someone deciding to go ahead and buy the book anyway.

Tushnet goes on to explain the main problem with current practice:

Unfortunately, copyright fair use cases rarely acknowledge multiplicity of meaning. Instead, even a defendant-favorable fair use case tends to fix one meaning to the plaintiff’s work and another meaning or purpose to the defendant’s work, and then declare them different enough that the defendant’s use is transformative and therefore fair.

What I found especially interesting was her analysis of a specific case (Blanch v. Koons) in which appropriation artist Jeff Koons' use of a copy of a fashion photograph was found to be fair use: the court deferred to Koons' own account of his reasons for using the photo—and by "[s]hifting to a particular expert, the artist himself, the court left the structure of expertise intact." As Tushnet explains,

fair use was determined not on the basis of potential audiences’ understandings of new meanings from the accused work, but on the ability of the artist to express his intentions.... Thus, rather than accepting that multiple meanings and interpretations can coexist, the court picked a side in a contest about true meaning, not unlike a ruling in a contracts case.

Not surprisingly, that passage also made me think of the DMCA hearings, where my primary value was not my academic credentials (except indirectly, insofar as the nature of my employment allows me to be cheerfully matter-of-fact about my fan activities) and certainly not my legal expertise (of which I have exactly none) but my willingness and ability to speak as an artist expressing intention: "This is what I need and this is why I need it." That kind of performance is always weird for me because I am hyper-aware of all the ways in which I can't speak for all fans or all fan video artists or even all vidders; I can only speak as one member of those larger groups.

Tushnet's article shows, I think, why we need both to encourage fans who can do that kind of speaking to do it (because many fans, for any of a variety of reasons, are not in that position) and to change the cultures—legal and otherwise—that value artistic expertise/authority at the expense of interpretive multiplicity.

I mean, that's a huge part of the point of fandom, right? Do all the readings! Make all the meanings! Explore every option in as many ways as possible! One of the many reasons that vids and vidding appeal to me is precisely that they're not isolated art projects; rather, they're embedded in a whole ecosystem of overlapping and intersecting and sometimes contradictory projects and goals and ideals and interests. That's what makes it fun.
tishaturk: (keyboard)
I haven't been posting here, even though I've been in research mode lately, because I've been trying to channel my writing energy into other projects. But I'm starting to accumulate lots of little ideas that I don't know whether or how to incorporate into those projects, so I'm going to start stashing them here and hope that typing them out helps me figure out what to do with them.

I'm doing this partly because I'm inspired/frustrated by the newly retooled Fanhackers—what used to be TWC's Symposium blog: inspired because I love seeing these quotes and snippets of conversation showing up in my RSS feed, frustrated because the site is built on Tumblr and, god, don't even get me started on Tumblr; the short version is that I love it for a lot of things but I hate it for conversation. I mean, I know it's possible to have conversations via Tumblr—plenty of people do—but the site is not built for that, doesn't facilitate it, and I have lost whatever inclination I might once have had to fight my way through the structural and visual obstacles. My reaction to Fanhackers is much like [personal profile] elf's: "I'm enjoying; I'm not figuring out what else to do with it." Bring on the quotes and the animated gifsets, is what I'm saying.

Anyway! What I'm writing about today is something I've been thinking about since the annual "Best of" lists started circulating in December, and it is this:

One of the things I love about fandom is that fandom, for the most part, operates not on a "these are the best things" model (where the criteria for "best" are typically undefined yet implied to be shared by all right-thinking people) but on a "these are my favorite things" model, which can be frustrating but is also wonderfully democratic. There are exceptions, of course, like The Fourth Wall and Driver Picks The Music and plenty of other award sites—though it's worth noting that those sites are often much more clear about criteria for judgment than non-fannish critics and awards are. But mostly fandom runs not on awards but on recs and (increasingly?) on content searching. Recs may take the form of simple recirculation—reblogs on Tumblr, for example, though even there some fans manage to squeeze a remarkable amount of information about the reasons for their reblog into the tags—but many are quite thoughtful and explicit about why the reccer liked what she liked; I saw this in many of the Festivds rec posts from January. Fandom does not, for the most part, assume that what "best" means is a) self-evident or b) shared by everyone, though it does generally assume that if one person likes it then somewhere out there is someone else who will like it too. (That's Yuletide and Festivids in a nutshell, right?)

What I appreciate about this culture of favorites, with all the reccing and tagging and reblogging that it entails, is that fandom encourages us to think about what we like, to articulate what we like, and in some cases to organize remarkable metadata structures around what we like—I'm thinking, for example, of the various kink meme (and other prompt meme) bookmark lists on pinboard and delicious, such as the [livejournal.com profile] sherlockbbc_fic pinboard archive where one can sort by very specific combinations of tags in order to filter content. (Some of the trope overlap possibilities are amazing, for values of "amazing" that range from "yes of course omg" to "hilarious" to "I don't know how this exists but I love it.")

I don't want to be inappropriately utopian here. One of the reasons that the FAQs for these memes are so careful to define and forbid kinkshaming is that it does happen; "your kink [or pairing, characterization, genre preference, etc.] is not my kink and that's okay" is not as universally observed as we might hope. But there is a sense that this attitude ought to be the way that one approaches fandom, that we are, collectively, trying not just to make space for but to faciliate, to make visible and accessible, a wide range of desires and preferences along a variety of vectors: sexual, narrative, aesthetic. Which is very cool.

As a side note, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into reccing, reblogging, running awards sites, administering prompt memes, tagging for meme archives, etc., is why I get so frustrated with definitions of "fan work" that focus primarily on writing fic and making vids and ignore or handwave all the other kinds of work that make my daily fannish experience what it is. Fandom runs on the engine of production, but a lot of what we produce is information, architecture, access, not just artifacts.
tishaturk: (OTW)
The U.S. Register of Copyrights has recommended that the noncommercial remix exemption from last time around be a) renewed, and b) expanded to include online services (iTunes, Amazon Unbox, etc). Rebecca Tushnet has posted about it here, and [personal profile] giandujakiss has a very helpful step-by-step breakdown of the context for the decision.

I am really excited to have been part of this process, and really grateful to everyone who got involved -- the OTW and EFF legal teams, obviously, especially Rebecca Tushnet and Francesca Coppa, whose testimony was so persuasive, and all the many vidders and other remix artists who submitted comments and suggested vids to discuss and let us talk about their work and cite their posts. This was a group effort in the best possible way.

Not all the exemption requests were as successful as ours; I'm especially disappointed that HD/Blu-Ray content isn't covered. But we have a couple of years to get ready to re-fight that fight. In the meantime, I'm pretty damn happy about what we accomplished.

All of this excitement reminds me that I never did post my account of the testimony Q&A session in which one of the industry lawyers attempted to mansplain video capture and frame size to me. Maybe I will do that this weekend, since now I can do it with a smug smile rather than gritted teeth of fury. Because WE WON.
tishaturk: (keyboard)
After my last post, I realized belatedly that I've never officially mentioned the book project I'm working on, though a few of you have kindly listened to me go on (and on and on) about it offline and/or in private.

The short version is that I am working on a book proposal for the University of Iowa Press, which is starting a new fan studies series. An editor at the press contacted me a while back and asked if I'd like to write a book for them, to which I said "...um, okay," because while I hadn't given much thought to writing a book about vids (my last book-length project was my PhD dissertation, which primarily inspires thoughts of oh god never again no way), I am not so stupid that I'd say no to that question when somebody from an actual university press comes asking.

I hasten to add that the book is not a done deal: There's no contract, I haven't even turned in the proposal yet, etc. But I am, to my own surprise, actually excited about the prospect. Or at least more excited than terrified. Most days. *facepalm*

more under the cut )

So that is what I've been thinking about for the past week, partly just because I think it's interesting but also because I think it's something that might be useful in fan studies even outside the relatively small circle of people who are interested in vids specifically.
tishaturk: (pen)
You guys, I have too many thoughts about vids. Way, way too many thoughts about vids.

Like, too many to fit in one book.


(Why yes, I did always identify with Willow, why do you ask?)
tishaturk: (keyboard)
I'm currently in Columbus, Ohio for DMAC: Ohio State University's Digital Media and Composition Institute. I'm very glad to be here; I'm finding the instructors helpful, my fellow attendees delightful, and the readings very thought-provoking. But one of our first hands-on projects frustrated me immensely.

Here's what happened: We were assigned a few small projects centering on recording and editing a literacy narrative to submit to the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. (I'll be writing more about the DALN; I would love to see fannish folks contributing narratives about our particular print and media and multimodal literacies, not least because I would love to curate a collection of those narratives. But that's a story for another post!)

We recorded our narratives with some nifty little cameras that can be converted to audio-only; the sound quality wasn't great, but in fairness my partner and I were recording outside, so the wind noise we got was our fault entirely. I mean, I missed using my own equipment, but I could deal with that.

Then we started editing the audio we'd recorded, first to tidy up our narratives and then to use snippets of them to create a PSA for the DALN. This is where I started to get cranky. )

Since that early assignment we've had several more assignments, more lab time, more software instruction, and more (though not nearly enough!) discussion of our readings (the curious among you can check out the schedule). I'm hoping to write more about DMAC, but this post has already been delayed long enough by that whole DMCA thing, so I'm going to finish it and go out for Italian food with some of my compatriots and hope my brain is in better shape tomorrow.
tishaturk: (OTW)
On Monday, June 4, I testified in this year's hearings about exemptions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). Rebecca Tushnet is doing her usual comprehensive write-ups of panels and has already posted her notes from our panel. What I'm posting here are my own notes from which I spoke; as usual, I sort of riffed as I went, so the official transcript, when published, will be slightly different. I've also added, in [brackets], a few comments, elaborations, and clarifications.

I introduced myself and explained my Official Credentials, and then I began...

I’m also a vidder myself, and that’s the perspective from which I’ll be speaking today. Professor Tushnet and Professor Coppa have spoken about the legal and cultural aspects of remix video; I’m going to talk about aesthetic and technical concerns.

There are two main points that I want to make: 1) Vidders need high quality source for both rhetorical and aesthetic reasons. 2) The screencapture solution posed at the May 11 Tech Day hearings doesn’t work.

more about these arguments under the cut! )

There were a few moments from the Q&A about which I hope to post in the next day or so, because they were this amazing blend of offensive and hilarious—the short version is that one of the industry lawyers attempted to mansplain video capture and frame size to me and I got to actually say the sentence "Well, the problem with that is that it's not true." But more on that anon.
tishaturk: (pen)
Issue no. 9 of Transformative Works and Cultures came out yesterday; it's focused on Fan/Remix Video, and it looks amazing—I am really, really looking forward to reading the whole thing. It includes an essay I wrote with Joshua Johnson, a former student of mine, called "Toward an ecology of vidding." I'm really proud of this essay, and I'm hoping it will form part of the basis for a longer project, so I'm already thinking about how to revise and expand it. If you read it and have thoughts about it, I'd love to hear them; you can post comments at TWC, comment here, send me an email, whatever. All feedback is welcome: points you liked, points you disagreed with, points that need expansion or clarification, things we missed, anything!

As I was re-reading the essay for the final proofreading, I thought of something that was really important to me (I can't speak for Josh here) while we were working on it, but which was a little too meta to easily integrate into the essay itself, so I thought I'd write about it here instead.

One of the things I wanted to do in this essay was to write about a typical vid rather than an unusual vid.

More about this under the cut )

I suspect that sometimes we downplay 'ship vids because we're worried that other academics won't take those vids seriously, or maybe even because we ourselves are nervous about discussing explicitly romantic vids in an academic context, but as a feminist I worry about this tendency. Saying or implying that 'ship vids aren't serious or aren't worthy of study, or are worthy only if they have some other historical or analytical significance, seems to me to be a profoundly problematic thing to do, so I'm hoping to counter this tendency more explicitly in my upcoming work.

...long post is long, but my point is that I had a blast writing about [personal profile] lamardeuse's vid, and I really appreciate her permission to do it, and I want to write more about the kinds of vids that I first fell in love with.
tishaturk: (keyboard)
Vidders and vidwatchers! If you want to help renew the DMCA exemption we won in 2010, now's your chance: submit your comments in support of the exemption proposal by February 10th, 5pm Eastern Time.

You can send comments to OTW's Legal or Vidding committees, or you can send them directly to the Copyright office. If you're submitting directly, be sure to note class “7B” if your comments focus on decrypting DVDs or class “7C” if your comments focus on decrypting legally streamed or downloaded video where the video is not available on DVD. Or you can comment on this post and I'll make sure the comments get where they need to go!

Questions you might want to address (answer as many or as few as you have time for):
1. Why are you interested in making sure video remixing isn’t chilled by legal threats?

2. Why do you make videos? What message or statement do your videos convey? What audience do you want to reach? Or, if you're not a vidder: Why do you watch vids? What's valuable about them for you?

3. Why do you use sources that require decryption (such as DVDs, Amazon Unbox, etc.)?

4. How important is it that the video clips vidders use are high quality?

5. How important to you is getting timely video clips of current events?

6. Is there anything else you want to tell the Copyright Office?

In case you don't know the background on this:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) have put together a DMCA exemption proposal asking the Copyright Office to declare that breaking the encryption on DVDs in order to use video clips in primarily noncommercial videos does not violate the DMCA.

We won a similar exemption in 2010, but it will expire if not renewed. Plus, now we're asking for a new exemption for breaking the encryption on video from online download or streaming services (like Amazon Unbox) that’s not available on DVD.

Please signal-boost if you can!


tishaturk: (Default)
Tisha Turk

November 2016

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