Public and Private Identities

  • OTW Guest Post: Jamie Broadnax

    Kiri Van Santen lauantaina, 4 lokakuuta 2014 - 4:54pm

    Graphic by caitie of an OTW-themed guest access lanyard

    From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

    Today's post is an interview with Jamie Broadnax, founder of Black Girl Nerds , an inclusive site for women who embrace geek/nerd culture. Jamie is the Digital Vice President at the She Thrives Network and has written for Afropunk and Madame Noire.

    What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about fandom blogging?

    Having an opinion on a particular fandom and seeing how others respond to it. Whether they agree or disagree. I'm always interested in other people's perspectives on things even if their point of view contrasts mine.

    You started Black Girl Nerds after googling the phrase in 2012 and finding 0 results. In the past years, though, nerd culture has continued to infiltrate the mainstream. In your experience, is the “nerd” world moving toward racial/ethnic and gender inclusivity? And is inclusivity the goal, or do you believe we should focus on creating our own nerd spaces rather than fighting to be allowed into established ones?

    Excellent question. I would love racial/ethnic and gender inclusivity in nerd culture. It's very important that we see ourselves in comic books, TV shows, tech industries, science conventions, and several other industries that tend to marginalize women of color. However, I'm not completely against creating your own nerd space. BGN was created because of the lack of representation within our subculture. I believe taking the initiative to create your own space is what helps foster growth in spaces that are less diverse. I also think it is important that there are safe spaces on the web where people can connect to a community of individuals that identify and relate to them. It is a form of empowerment that is a basic part of the human condition.

    Where in nerd culture or fandom hasn’t progress been made?

    Mainstream nerd websites and TV shows like "Big Bang Theory". I always find it interesting that by default nerds in media spaces are always white and usually male. The tech space also has a ways to go, but luckily more organizations like Digital Undivided and Black Girls Code are bridging the gap. There is still more work to do and having niche communities like Black Girl Nerds is just the beginning to helping diversify all things in nerd culture.

    What do you think is the most important political/legal/philosophical issue in fandom right now?

    Hmmm...that's a toughie. I don't necessarily associate fandoms with serious political or philosophical ideologies. However, one issue that comes to mind is the issue of race playing a factor in cosplay. Many cosplayers have chatted with me online and on my podcast about dealing with vitriol from non-Black cosplayers. My friend Chaka Cumberbatch, a well known Black female cosplayer, was questioned by white nerds as to why she was cosplaying as Sailor Moon.

    The irony of this bitter criticism is, why are white girls cosplaying as an Japanese character?

    Let that one simmer for a minute.

    What book/movie/show/game/etc are you most excited about right now, and why?

    I'm reading Greg Pak's Storm comic which is awesome. She's my favorite superheroine in the Marvel universe. I'm also interested in starting on The Strain book by Guillermo Del Toro. I'm currently a fan of the TV series and really enjoy live tweeting it on Sunday nights.

    The Organization for Transformative Works is a fan-run nonprofit dedicated to preserving fanworks and advocating for fans. Do you believe that these goals are important? Do fans need advocates?

    I love that concept! Absolutely fans needs advocates. I believe having a partner, team, group, or community that is willing to serve and help you makes us all better people. It helps us to grow, connect, and develop new innovative ideas and to overall just have fun with people who get you. It's important, especially for nerds like us who are used to feeling isolated and excluded because many others didn't share our same fandoms.

  • OTW Fannews: Knowing the Audience

    Janita Burgess maanantaina, 15 syyskuuta 2014 - 4:27pm

    OTW Fannews Knowing the Audience

    • Lydia Laurenson wrote for The Atlantic about online anonymity, spurred by the change in Google+'s policy on real names. "I was finding myself on the Internet, but I was also learning skills that would be useful both as a professional and a human offline. My ability to be an effective creator was hugely shaped by writing popular fan fiction and running side-project businesses in virtual worlds. Researchers have also found pseudonymous games to be great environments for training leadership skills...Nowadays, we’re often told that The Future lies in entrepreneurship. I believe that elastic selfhood is crucial for people’s personal development, but it’s important for broader innovation, too. We need space to experiment and risk-tolerant environments where people can learn."
    • Many female fans have hidden their gender in online spaces for some of the reasons that Jen Mac Ramos describes as appearing in hockey fandom. "Plain and simple: being a hockey fan online isn't a safe space for women. In fact, it's downright frightening at times. It's no secret that hockey is notoriously a white bro sport, white as the ice they play on. The boys' club that watches and writes about it is what it is: a boys' club. It's men of all spades who get to dictate what the culture is like. While understandable on the ice (because, well, it is a boys' club in the locker room), why should it extend to how fandom should be? Why should it be around to isolate women?"
    • The media does little to value women as an audience. While suggesting that public conversations on diversity can make a difference, and reporting on problems with representation, the Hollywood Reporter nonetheless wrote about the success of female driven films as a failure of men to go to the movies.
    • At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax questioned terms and whether or not they can encompass an entire audience of fans. "A nerd can look like anyone. They look like you or me. However, for women and people of color, are we nerds or anti-nerds? I’m not suggesting we reject the term nerd because I like being called a nerd and I have no qualms about adopting all of what is considered to be a part of nerd culture. However, as a blerd, if I choose to embrace my blerdniess as opposed to generic nerdiness than what does that mean exactly? The blerd community is a place of solidarity for nerds of color. It’s a safe place where we are free to embrace and express our unique sense of self. There is a no-judgment zone within the blerd community and we welcome blerds to cosplay as non-Black characters and for women to have a prolific voice in our community."

    What parts of fandom have you been involved in? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Joins Project Secret Identity

    Kiri Van Santen torstaina, 28 elokuuta 2014 - 4:30pm

    image of three super hero-style eye masks

    The OTW is partnering with the EFF, io9, Wattpad, The Baker Street Babes, The Harry Potter Alliance, and Southeastern Browncoats to sponsor Project Secret Identity, a cosplay photo campaign to raise awareness of how anonymity and privacy are key to free expression.

    Fans have long embraced pseudonyms. They allow us to participate in fandom without fear of harassment or discrimination in our offline lives. Project Secret Identity is an opportunity for us to advocate for ourselves and protect our right to anonymity.

    During Dragon Con in Atlanta, Aug. 29 – Sept. 1, you can either submit your cosplay photo with an Internet freedom slogan, or take a photo at one of the Secret Identity photo stations at the convention: EFF (Table 7 at the Hilton) or Southeastern Browncoats (Table #1000 at AmericasMart).

    You can also join the campaign from anywhere in the world by uploading your photo at the Project's website. We hope you'll take part!

  • TWC's Top 10

    Claudia Rebaza torstaina, 8 toukokuuta 2014 - 5:00pm

    Partial view of the TWC word cloud

    One of the OTW's projects is Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), an open-access academic journal dedicated to fandom and fandom studies.

    But don't think that just because it's a peer-reviewed, scholarly quarterly with a bibliographic listing in the MLA bibliography of journals that the contents of TWC aren't for fans like you to enjoy!  Check out this sampling, ranked by number of DOI resolutions:

    1) "Why we should talk about commodifying fan work", by Nele Noppe. How would legalizing fanwork influence the question: should fan work be free?

    2) "Book Review: Boys' love manga: Essays on the sexual ambiguity and cross-cultural fandom of the genre"by Nele Noppe. "The focus of the book remains squarely on the fans of boys' love manga, which makes it relevant to anyone interested in fan studies."

    3) "Women, "Star Trek," and the early development of fannish vidding", by Francesca Coppa. This paper discusses how early female Star Trek fans structured the practices and aesthetics of vidding, in order to heal the wounds created by the displacement and fragmentation of women on television.

    4) "'The epic love story of Sam and Dean': 'Supernatural,' queer readings, and the romance of incestuous fan fiction," by Catherine Tosenberger. Tosenberger examines the literary, cultural, and folkloric discourses of incest and queerness as invoked by the show in order to argue that "Wincest" fan fiction is best understood not as a perverse, oppositional reading of a manly dudebro show, but as an expression of readings that are suggested and supported by the text itself.

    5) "Endless loop: A brief history of chiptunes", by Kevin Driscoll and Joshua Diaz. Driscoll and Diaz explore the confusion surrounding what chiptunes is, and how the production and performance of music connected to 80's electronic video game soundtracks "tells an alternate narrative about the hardware, software, and social practices of personal computing in the 1980s and 1990s."

    6) "Stranger than fiction: Fan identity in cosplay", by Nicolle Lamerichs. Lamerichs argues that "costuming is a form of fan appropriation that transforms, performs, and actualizes an existing story in close connection to the fan's own identity," and that "cosplay motivates fans to closely interpret existing texts, perform them, and extend them with their own narratives and ideas."

    7) "Repackaging fan culture", by Suzanne Scott. Scott argues that "the strategic definition of fandom as a gift economy serves as a defensive front to impede encroaching industrial factions" like FanLib and Kindle Worlds, and examines "the Seinfeldian roots" of the social taboo of "regifting," relative to fan culture.

    8) "Thirty political video mashups made between World War II and 2005", by Jonathan McIntosh. The creator of the famed Buffy vs. Edward remix vid explores subversive pre-YouTube remixes.

    9) "Book review: Spreadable media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture, by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green", by Melissa A. Click. "Readers with stakes in the tug-of-war between fans and industry will likely enjoy, and be invigorated by, the authors' arguments about spreadability."

    10) "The Web planet: How the changing Internet divided "Doctor Who" fan fiction writers", by Leora Hadas. Hadas explores how evolving participatory culture clashed with traditional fandom modes and came to a head over one Whovian fanfic archive, using the conflict there to argue that "the cultural logics of fandom and of participatory culture might be more separate than they initially appear."

    And if you want to move beyond the Top 10 articles on TWC, here's a word cloud of the most frequently used words taken from the titles of every article that TWC has published in its 6-year history.

    Would you like to help us generate even more words? Head over to Fanhackers to see how you can celebrate acafandom, meta, and more with us—or check out the TWC Submissions Guidelines for submitting your research or essay to the journal!

  • OTW Fannews: Fandom in development

    Claudia Rebaza maanantaina, 9 joulukuuta 2013 - 10:46pm

    Banner by Bremo with the post title on a grey background.

    • While it's generally known that fandom is a major part of life on Tumblr, several researchers from Canada's Simon Fraser University will be presenting the results of their fandom study at the Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing conference in February 2014. Their paper is already available. "We investigated Tumblr fandom users’ motivations behind participating in fandoms, and how they interacted within the Tumblr community. Our results show that fandom users feel their Tumblr experience is ‘always-on’ where they participate at nearly any point in the day. They have also adopted a unique set of jargon and use of animated GIFs to match their desired fandom activities."
    • RocketNews24 discussed how Vocaloid fandom has become a milepost for distinguishing otaku generations. "The real rise in Vocaloid’s popularity began in 2007 with the introduction of Hatsune Miku, though the software existed years before. Songs like Melt and The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku led to the character, Miku, becoming the axis of Vocaloid fandom, and people first falling into the series for more than just its capabilities as music-making software adopted the perspective that Hatsune Miku and Vocaloid are synonymous. According to Febri’s article, these people belong to the first generation of Vocaloid fans."
    • On Grantland, Molly Lambert uses the Brony fandom revealed in its documentary to discuss adopted personas. "Defining yourself by the media you consume has always been commonplace, but it took social media to really demonstrate how inadequate it feels to reduce your personality into a series of lists. The ownership we feel over our favorite things is false, and Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook really served to drive this home. You like The Big Lebowski? Cool, so does everyone. The things you thought made you unique when you were the only person you knew interested in some genre of music, independent film, or corner of history turn out to be laughably banal. Even personality traits are memes, picked up and transmitted or willed into place."

    What stories of fandoms developing do you have to share? Write about them on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Troubling tech issues

    Claudia Rebaza lauantaina, 7 joulukuuta 2013 - 9:12pm

    Banner by Diane of the post title and OTW logo in striated colors as if they were going through interference.

    • Attack of the Fanboy wrote about various troubling issues affecting gaming fandom. One of the most recent involves the data Sony is gathering from users. "Sony’s updated Terms of Service reserved their right to prohibit the sale of used software, but tucked away in the updated version, the company also reserves the right to monitor users voice and text communication on the PlayStation Network."
    • Attack of the Fanboy also ran an article on forced labor used to build PS4 consoles. "Students in the programme have fainted from fatigue. The Yantai factory has already come under fire for a 300+ worker brawl at the factory in September, and denied previous speculation that people were left dead after the event, and rumours of rape around the factory are also being heard across news outlets...Despite such a bad reputation, Sony are using this facility to build PS4′s, and it certainly casts a small shadow over the companies brand identity as the PS4 launch draws closer."
    • Google's decision to force people commenting at YouTube to create or use their Google+ accounts is meeting resistance due to Google+'s insistence on real name usage. X-box players are off the hook for now. "Microsoft has made some talk about the ability for someone to use their real name for their gamertag. This, according to Microsoft, may prevent actions that some deal as unsavory or trollish...and to help identify yourself to your friends." However "[u]nlike Blizzard’s short foray with Blizzard Real ID that forced users to use their real names and subsequently backfired, Microsft will only offer it as a choice."
    • TeleRead posted about problems in reading content away from "It’s worth mentioning that has also removed the ability to select text from its stories for copying and pasting. It is no longer possible to highlight or mark text with the mouse on its stories. And some users have complained that has upped the amount of advertising on its pages as well." Demand for downloads is high. "The author of the Fanfiction Downloader app noted that he had to disable the email-based interface of his app, except for emailing directly to Kindles, because after FLAG was blocked its load went from about 100 requests per day to more than 5,000 per hour. It seems there are a lot of people out there who would rather read fanfiction on their e-readers or mobile e-reader apps than from a web browser."

    What tech-related fandom issues have you come across? Write about it on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Technology and Legal Matters

    Claudia Rebaza sunnuntaina, 3 helmikuuta 2013 - 6:59pm
    • While 2012 is now behind us, some of its legal developments may catch up to us in 2013. TechDirt warned that a proposed copyright small claims court "may have a bigger impact than the DMCA." Because prosecuting users is generally so expensive for rights holders, they're looking for other ways to target those they consider guilty of infringement. "We see a lot of the bullying and trolling that takes place in the informal copyright system, where overreaching DMCA takedown notices and cease and desist letters are common. As many people reading this may know, bogus copyright claims are regularly misused to takedown otherwise legal content. So we have to balance the need of independent creative people to get 'justice' for their works being wholly misappropriated by bad actors, while keeping life sane for average internet users."
    • It's not like we need more examples of bogus copyright takedowns to prove a point, but we still give a nod to Tech Crunch for making the story entertaining with its headline Amazon Pulls Self-Published Memoir About Star Wars Because it References Star Wars. " [I]f Amazon wants to be the central repository for all paid and unpaid unpublished work, they need more than a Mechanical Turk to kick books into the 'potentially infringes' pile...Amazon cannot go the route of YouTube and other media sharing systems that are reliant on the good graces of big media and tend to ban first and ask no questions later. Instead, problems like these need a dedicated person with some authority to make the ultimate and intelligent choice."
    • An article on frictionless entertainment explained the term as the "world of streamed music and videos where the producers, broadcasters, advertisers and various others (mostly stealthy tracking parties) watch what you watch and listen to what you listen to." Discussing how services such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Kinect, Apple and Amazon gather data, they note "In almost every other setting, all these practices would qualify as cyberstalking."

    What legal developments are you concerned about in 2013? If you're interested in fair use and how it relates to fanfiction and other fanworks, write about them in Fanlore. Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Legal and Technology Stories

    Claudia Rebaza tiistaina, 22 tammikuuta 2013 - 7:29pm
    • News about a Google TV that interprets its viewers' behavior to recommend shows to them raises questions about how useful such a technology would be, and to whom, not to mention the privacy matters involved. "James McQuivey at Forrester Research said consumers will accept these privacy tradeoffs if they see an advantage to the new style of television. 'If you ask people, of course they will say no,' McQuivey told AFP, while noting that millions have accepted this type of tracing by connecting their TVs to Xbox consoles with Kinect motion detection where 'the camera is tracking you all the time'...But he said companies should be prepared to develop privacy policies to avoid government intervention."
    • Nielsen is also planning to gather consumer data, in this case by following Twitter activity that occurs using the hashtags displayed during TV show broadcasts. "Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group said, 'Twitter is a powerful messenger and a lot of fun for fans of our shows, providing them with the opportunity to engage, connect and voice their opinions directly to each other and us. Combining the instant feedback of Twitter with Nielsen ratings will benefit us, program producers, and our advertising partners.'"
    • Germany may be taking Facebook to court over its policy of banning pseudonyms. "Facebook began cracking down on pseudonym accounts in early 2011, and made a renewed effort to purge such accounts in August 2012. In September, Facebook started encouraging users to report friends who don’t use their real names." Germany was successful in its earlier effort last year when its "state data protection authority sued Facebook over its facial recognition software that automatically recognized and tagged people in photos uploaded to a user’s profile."

    Know about other fandom stories involving Twitter, pseudonyms or television viewing? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Links roundup for 11 September 2012

    Claudia Rebaza tiistaina, 11 syyskuuta 2012 - 4:41pm

    Here's a roundup of stories about the new face of fandom that might be of interest to fans:

    • Haddayr Copley-Woods summarizes the classic experiences of fandom with "Many people called me a nerd back in seventh grade, when I played Dungeons and Dragons and got picked last in gym. Now the word feels like an embrace." She encourages others to discover their tribe at a fan convention. "Sometimes, during a deeply intellectual panel on the work of Lloyd Alexander, you might have to raise your voice to compete with the sounds of a boisterous Klingon ritual going on in the courtyard below. But if you're a misfit, it will be worth it. You'll finally be home." The longstanding tradition of face-to-face meets is being seen today as a way to connect with a new generation, as in the case of Amarillo, Texas's comic book con organized by their local library.
    • Some fans have found themselves excluded from in-person gatherings in the past, though this too is changing. The L.A. Times noticed that Comic-Con "is seeing more gay-themed panels, parties, signings and off-site events than ever before," with one writer connecting canon acceptance to fandom presence. “Queer fandom is absolutely galvanized by seeing more accurate representations of ourselves." Another con-goer added that this new energy is present "[e]ven among non-queer fans. My super-straight guy friend is totally into this comic about queer bears.” Comments to the article however, showed we still have a long road to walk.
    • The road may be a lot shorter among fanfic writers who were called out in a video by Teen Wolf's most popular slash couple. They gave the writers and readers something to think about while encouraging them to vote for an award. Such fans were probably also on the minds of app developers at Movellas who created "an iPhone app just for fan fiction about boy-band One Direction." The reporting journalist's "sheer disbelief" is the only quaint thing about the story, which otherwise proves that fans will take their fandom connections with them wherever they go.

    Do you have a "future of fandom" story to tell? Why not contribute it to Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Links roundup for 4 August 2012

    Claudia Rebaza lauantaina, 4 elokuuta 2012 - 5:41pm

    Here's a roundup of legal and technology stories that may be of interest to fans.

    • While bills such as SOPA and PIPA disappeared from the U.S. legislative landscape earlier this year, they were only the first of many volleys targeting Internet users and companies. There is S.2151 sponsored by Senator John McCain, and the Lieberman-Collins Cyber Security Act or S.3414 which will likely be coming up for a vote soon. A recently proposed amendment to S.3414 would strike all of its section 701 "which provides companies with the explicit right to monitor private user communications and engage in countermeasures." Organizations such as the EFF and the Center for Democracy & Technology oppose these bills as they feel the language is overly broad and that current laws already enable online service providers to protect their networks.
    • Speaking of SOPA and PIPA, the coalition of online companies, websites, users and activist organizations who fought those bills realized after that fight that they should enable quick mobilization of their group when future threats arise. As such, they formed the Internet Defense League, which will help spread information around the web through participants hosting a form of bat signal. Anyone with a website can sign up to take part. Online users can take various steps to defend their Internet rights from signing documents to donating to PACs.
    • One thing central to Internet freedoms is keeping the means of production in the hands of as many people as possible. To that end, things like Google's video production workshops are a plus for fans and general online users alike as is the availability of the Creative Commons content on YouTube. Cathy Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons (CC) urged those with content on the site to "select 'Creative Commons Attribution license' from the 'License and rights ownership. menu." You can now also choose to "license your future videos under CC BY as a default."
    • One example of the extent of transmedia, or stories created across multiple formats, is discussed by Jan Bozarth, whose Fairy Godmother Academy began as an eight book series for Random House, but quickly expanded into live events, music, and even its own dance movement. Her projects seek to enable girls to utilize technology for their own storytelling. "We all agree that we are not our iPods, iPads, Dr. Drea’s, or Thom’s. They are US. We live in the real world, but it’s got to be a world of our making and those tools help." Her project goal was "to deliver a multi dimensional story, in multiple forms, to a multi-tasking audience, who really just wants to write their own movie and star in it." She also realizes the story is only hers to start, not finish. "I can’t really own [the stories] once they are assimilated into a culture that consumes ideas only to transform, transmute and re-create. My biggest audience may or may not be born yet but my hope is that they will someday dance, sing and write some version of my story and send it back to me in another form that hasn’t even been invented yet. What lives on is the re-creation."

    If you have things to discuss about fandom and the internet or transformational fandom, why not write about it in Fanlore? Additions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup at Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.


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