tishaturk: (keyboard)
[personal profile] tishaturk
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.

Date: 2013-03-05 07:59 pm (UTC)
metanewsmods: Abed wearing goggles (Default)
From: [personal profile] metanewsmods
Hi, can we link this at metanews?

Date: 2013-03-06 12:12 am (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
All hail the organizers and taggers of fandom.

I don't do Tumblr, so I know I'm missing an apparently important iteration of fandom, but the (I understand) lack of attention to the source of what is being linked to and the lack of feedback and conversation makes it unappealing even beyond my gut reaction, which is, OMG not one MORE platform I have to adapt to.

I mean, I left LJ for DW for REASONS, but I just couldn't stomach delicious. Or Pinboard. Or Tumblr, or Twitter.

And you see where I'm well on my way to saying GET OFF MY LAWN.

Except i love archives and I'm still reading and writing.

So yeah.

Thanks for the post.

Date: 2013-03-07 01:18 am (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
Yeah, it's been so fascinating to see how fandom has changed even in the nine years I've been participating. Change is inevitable, and I know just like some folks were annoyed at the eclipse of mailing lists, I've been left behind by the move away from LJ.

But yeah -- archives seem to endure, regardless.

Date: 2013-03-06 01:41 am (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
Fandom does not, for the most part, assume that what "best" means is a) self-evident or b) shared by everyone

That is a nice observation, particularly on the heels of the Oscars.

[personal profile] staranise made one of the smartest observations I've seen on the subject a couple years ago:
It seems to me that Literary works are judged by how well they express the author's intention, inner experience, creativity, etc.; in fannish circles (and I think maybe some SFF circles), it's judged by how well or profoundly it impacts the reader. It's a tiny difference (pre-synapse, post-synapse) but on the other hand... I think that's why, partly, the Literary Establishment places such a large emphasis on originality, while the fannish establishment is built on using existing characters, tropes, and situations. In the fannish context, what matters is how well you can use the existing tools to produce a certain effect, partly because the established tools can hit certain buttons on the readers far more quickly and effectively than building up something unlike anything else in the world.
And then I nattered about it some more over here: But did it get me in my feelings?

What I appreciate about this culture of favorites...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

Yessss. And, you know, I think over the past couple years I've been seeing more and more effects of that tentacling out into pop culture at large. I really should start keeping an informal list of things that strike me that way.

"fan work"

Oh, hello, I've got steam coming out my ears, trying to think of people who might like to theorize about this a bit for TWC's next special issue. Nudge me if you've got any ideas, please!

Date: 2013-03-06 11:19 am (UTC)
unjapanologist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] unjapanologist
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

Fanhackers mod here. Glad you're enjoying it! If it helps, the site is not quite built on Tumblr. You never need to go anywhere near the Tumblr if you prefer the WordPress site with all its traditional conversation features. The general idea of the design is that people who like talking via Tumblr can interact with Fanhackers over there, and people who like talking via a traditional blogging/journaling interface can get the full experience on the WordPress site. The content on both places is mostly identical. Everybody happy in their own favorite sandbox, hopefully.

In slightly more detail... When figuring out how to improve the Symposium blog, we decided to give the blog a Tumblr presence as well. That was because a) we wanted to do Tumblr for fun and various other reasons, and b) we we wanted to make it easier for people to post to the new incarnation of Symposium, and Tumblr turned out to be a great help for that. The old WordPress-only blog was frankly pants at getting outside submissions. Uninviting and hard to use. It turned out that WordPress is pants at handling outside submissions in general; we tried a bunch of plugins and found nothing that was both easy to use for us regular posters and easy to use for people who just want to quickly post one thing. Tumblr's submission form, however, is indeed easy to use, also for non-Tumblr people, and it's fairly doable to make a Tumblr crosspost to a WP site. So we decided to use Tumblr's system for posting and getting submissions, make the Tumblr crosspost everything back to the WP site, and embed the Tumblr submission form in the WP site to make sure that people who are allergic to Tumblr don't need to go there. You submit a post on the WP site, it appears first on the Tumblr, and then it's automatically crossposted from there to the WP site where people can comment at will.

(Actually, we installed comments on the Tumblr too. There's various third-party commenting systems that can be attached to a Tumblr. But they have drawbacks, and they're probably not very interesting if you prefer the WP site. And crossposting from Tumblr does have a bunch of drawbacks. But I've babbled enough.)

Does this clear up the concerns, or is it something else that's frustrating you? Please do mention anything that bothers you, this is a very experimental thing and we're extremely happy to change and tweak things until they work for everyone. We're working within some technical limits, of course, but if we can't fix something now, we'll put it on the wish list until the tech gets better or we figure out a workaround.

(While I'm here, would you mind if I quote part of this post on Fanhackers? Love it, but have really babbled enough for now.)

Date: 2013-03-07 12:58 am (UTC)
unjapanologist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] unjapanologist
Thank you! Quoting later this week.

...unless of course I want to post/submit something, because, as you point out, that goes through Tumblr; I mean, that's the Tumblr posting interface and the Tumblr terms of submission right there in the WordPress sidebar.

Yeah, people do have to touch Tumblr in the sense that they have to touch Tumblr's submission form. We do link to a WP submission form under the Tumblr embed for people who don't or can't use javascript, but we very much prefer people who can to use the Tumblr form, because submissions that come in via WP really are harder to handle and there's very few of us to handle things. If someone is opposed to using Tumblr on principle for any reason (generic someone, not you), they could use that WP form too. Although we'll crosspost everything to Tumblr anyway, so if someone is opposed to using Tumblr entirely, they're probably better off not posting at all.

Which means that if I want to post I have to LOG OUT of Tumblr (or else open a separate browser), because otherwise I end up posting with my fannish account

Yes. Causing people the inconvenience of potentially having to log out is something we've decided we have to accept for now, because the alternative - a lot more work for us dealing with every individual submission, less submissions in general - seems likely to cause a lot more hindrance in the end. But we should probably underline things more clearly close to the posting form to make sure people don't end up accidentally posting with their fannish accounts. I added a line in the sidebar to clarify, how does it look?

But it occurs to me that if fans are recirculating the Tumblr posts and academics are chatting (or even just trying to figure out citation details...) on the WordPress posts, there's not going to be quite the cross-pollination that the blog seems to be hoping for. And for me, the Tumblr-centric nature of the postings means that I am more likely to consume than to participate.

When you say "Tumblr-centric nature", what exactly do you mean? Serious question, I'm wondering how we can adjust posts to make people on both platforms feel comfortable.

Conversations are going to be scattered no matter what, I think. We made the decision to try and make the content appear in as many people's spaces as possible, rather than try to force people to come to one single space to view content and discuss. We're guessing that that's the best way to reach as many people with at least the ideas, even if any discussions may take place in scattered locations. (By the by, I'm very sure by now that the "academics prefer WP, fans prefer Tumblr" thing only holds up to a fairly limited extent. A very great deal of the people saying they prefer WP seem to be fans who aren't engaged in any academic work.)

We'll do our best to declutter the DW feed. It seems to be an issue on the WP side, possibly with the theme we use, because several other DW feeds from WP sites have the same problem of superfluous links showing up. Haven't figured it out yet.

Date: 2013-03-10 04:32 pm (UTC)
unjapanologist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] unjapanologist
Yeah, that makes sense. FWIW, we'll be doing at least one longer meta post per week like in the old Symposium days - more if people feel like submitting those. But a great deal of the new focus is on shining more of a spotlight on good existing content. (And while I hope we can encourage discussion in the comments as well, I'm really pleased already when we can help people read an informative shiny that they may not have found otherwise.)

Date: 2013-03-07 11:43 pm (UTC)
sqbr: A happy dragon on a pile of books (happy dragon)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
If this was on tumblr I'd click the "Like" button: I have nothing to add but like what you have to say :)

Date: 2013-03-09 01:16 am (UTC)
msilverstar: (thard eyebrow)
From: [personal profile] msilverstar
Oh interesting topic!

I'm a huge fan of recs, but I always avoid fandom awards like the plague because "best" is in the eye of the beholder, and because the losers are always sad.

Date: 2013-09-06 01:59 am (UTC)
par_avion: collage of intl air mail stickers (Default)
From: [personal profile] par_avion
Fandom runs on the engine of production, but a lot of what we produce is information, architecture, access, not just artifacts.

♥ ♥ ♥

Not exactly sure how I landed here today, surprised I never commented on this!


tishaturk: (Default)
Tisha Turk

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