News of Note

  • OTW Fannews: Separate by intention?

    By Claudia Rebaza on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 - 4:55pm
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    • Given media representations apparently a lot of people continue to think that female fandom projects are rare, although this may have to do with how gender segregated fandom projects often are. In a feature on the "Hello Sweetie" podcast, its founder discusses why it came into being. "She and others were listening...to 'Geek Show Podcast,' the popular online show started by X96’s 'Radio From Hell' host Kerry Jackson, local movie critics Jeff Vice and Jimmy Martin, and Tribune TV critic Scott D. Pierce. "'They never have any female panelists, rarely had female guests, and a lot of people were complaining about that,'"...On one episode of 'Geek Show Podcast,' one of the hosts said, 'If you [women] want to have a podcast, you should start one.'"
    • One reason for the separation may have to do with how female characters in fandoms are frequently depicted. One of the latest fans to address that issue uses cosplaying girls to create artwork depicting superheroes as they might really be. "It's not only combatting the myth that girls don't read or care about comics, but it’s showing that girls, too, can play the male superheroes that so often overshadow their female counterparts. And it's also proving just how easy it is to upend the sexist conventions that keep the women of comics in scantily clad, unrealistic uniforms for the purpose of sexually objectifying them."
    • The site Machinima.com pitches itself as equivalent with the fanwork in the tagline "a programming movement that captures the hard-to-reach 18 to 34-year-old male demographic." They have decided to try crowdsourcing video production on its Happy Hour Tales series. “Fans are invited to submit ideas for what happens in the second part of Trial of the Songbird…I wonder if there’s some branded intentions here; after all, inviting viewers to write about a brand new video game is a good way to get them to play that game. Happy Hour Tales is the overarching name of the series, which suggests that we will get crowdsourced stories set in other video game worlds before long.” Since fans have little need for an invitation to create new fannish content, the plan seems more in line with further commercializing fannish creativity rather than encouraging its independent development.
    • Another fannish site that's looking for fannish contributions has a long history of female participation, though Aja Romano wonders if the creative team is taking that into account. For one thing the fandom already has major fandom wiki projects, although they don't "emphasize fan creations and fanworks the way that Roddenberry's Trek Initiative does." But "it seems odd that Roddenberry has gone the traditional route of archives, wikis, and fan forums, rather than the more web 2.0 route emphasizing social media, media sharing, and interactive media. It's possible he hasn't registered just how big Star Trek is on Tumblr, where the new reboot reigns supreme among millions of fans, mostly women."

    Do the fandom sites you visit seem to target one gender over another? Write about it 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: Cultural Triggers

    By .C. Ryan Smith on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 1:01am
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    • While in some places fanfic writers are getting arrested, in others the concern is instead about how fans could be ruining pop culture. "Mr. Rushfield laments that fan culture is set in its ways and does not want to be challenged. I think this is an oversimplification...Yes of course, some fans will never be happy. Some fans say and do things I find shocking and disrespectful, but I think that this is a very small minority...To think that this subset of fans is the driving force behind any artistic decisions, is not giving enough credit to writers and producers in entertainment."
    • Fandom activities can also lead to a new vision of culture. As a post on Amazing Stories pointed out, fannish activism may also serve wider social causes. "I often see proponents of greater diversity in the media tarred with a certain brush—it’s the brush that paints them as self-absorbed, hysterical, wannabe victims who cannot take a moment to step outside their bubble and understand the cold, hard truth of how the world works. Those who employ this brush see themselves as realists...Female protagonists can’t possibly sell in great enough numbers, they say. There isn’t enough of a market to make the character gay, they say. I understand you’re upset, they say, but you have to look beyond your (petty, juvenile) concerns and deal with the fact that the characters are going to be white."
    • On the flip side, fans also need to take a look at their own creations when it comes to social impact. Blogger Luz Delfondo takes fanfiction to task on its contributions to rape culture. "What’s really exciting about fandom from a feminist point of view is that it is predominantly female. The people who are talking back to fictional media with their own takes on their favorite stories are women. This is a great opportunity to transform patriarchal, sex-negative stories told using the male gaze (which is the majority of media, sadly) into stories that represent our points of view...However, all too often, the same biases that come up over and over again in fictional media are also replicated in fandom."

    What cultural effects do you see fans having? Write about it 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: The places fanfiction goes

    By Claudia Rebaza on Thursday, 9 May 2013 - 9:55pm
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    • NYU's student newspaper decided to feature fanfiction with a particularly local angle -- fanfiction set on its campus. "Remember when you were waiting for your acceptance letter? Whether NYU was your dream school or just your safety, you’d catch yourself longing for the city, dreaming of the day when you’d leave your home for the magic of New York...You weren’t the only one dreaming. In fact, some would-be students have dedicated hundreds of pages to their NYU-centric fantasies. So focused are these writers’ efforts that NYU Fanfiction has swelled into its own thriving—if slightly inaccurate—genre."
    • Australia's The Monthly article on erotic fan fiction nights is somewhat inaccurate as well. Author Linda Jaivin says, "My three co-readers had chosen to write about real people, a subgenre of fanfic that got its start along with the first boy bands." She also speculates that her concern regarding derivative works might be age related. "I raised the question of copyright and fanfic with Eddie Sharp, host of the erotic fan-fiction nights. He dismissed my concerns: “I can’t think of anyone my age” – he’s 30 – “who would be upset.” He characterised the “attitude shift” towards copyright as “a generational thing”.
    • People have apparently been reading about fanfiction at 50,000 feet. Following a feature in American Airlines, Choose Your Own Adventure, KLM's inflight magazine, Holland Herald also featured a story on it and both had an OTW connection. In the former, board member emeritus Francesca Coppa attempted to clarify the ethos of fanfiction writing, something which was expressed much better in the latter piece. "For [writing workshop founder Lisa Friedman], fan fiction is a ‘marginalised’ genre in its infancy, comparable to the graphic novel before it found widespread acceptance via the publication of Art Spiegelman’s 1991 Holocaust memoir Maus. “In any case,” she observes, “it’s kind of amazing how much skill it takes to work within someone else’s parameters, to attune oneself so acutely in matters of style and character.” Joanne Harris agrees with the latter point, and draws a comparison to the traditions of fine art: “All young artists used to copy the Old Masters before they were allowed to develop their own style, and fan fiction is the modern equivalent,” she says."

    What unexpected places have you found fanfiction in? Write about it 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: Fans front and center

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 3 May 2013 - 10:52pm
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    • Television is increasingly turning to fandom to find viewers. The Los Angeles Times put a spotlight on AMC's The Talking Dead. "Broadcast directly after the phenomenally successful 'The Walking Dead,' 'The Talking Dead' has taken on a life of its own, evolving from a half-hour companion show into a full-fledged, hour-long monster mash whose ratings in the coveted 18-49 demographic surpass a host of prime-time shows on the major networks." It seems likely this recipe will be copied since "Even more significantly, 'The Talking Dead' is one of the least expensive series on AMC's prime-time slate — the set is spare, there's no band and the production is low-frills. While declining to say how much the show costs, Stillerman said 'it's a good business model. We get a nice return on our investment.'"
    • In a 2-part interview on Henry Jenkins' blog, several academics address the future of television, focusing in part on the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign. "Fans are now Studios. Advertisers are Studios. Amazon is a studio. Netflix too. So, the roles are not only changing, they are blurred and the winner is the story. Because generally we don’t know what we want until a story is in front of us and we say: I want more of that. And I will pay with my time, my emotions, my network of friends and my money."
    • Other shows aren't just for fannish audiences, fans are the content as well. Articles about shows in development mentioned AMC's "Geek Out" and SyFy's "Cosworld" and "Fandemonium". "'Cosworld' will...follow some of the top people in the cosplay world as they come up with new and ever more imaginative and intricate costumes in an effort to win a cash prize and bragging rights" while "'Fandemonium'...will follow a group in Los Angeles as they try to balance their lives and their obsession with their heroes." However, people are more likely to want to appear on "Geek Out" which "aims to make the dreams of real-life Number One fans come true and give them an 'awesome, otherwise unattainable experience related to their obsession.'" The show will be taking a broad fandom approach, as "fans tracked down for the show will be of the sci-fi lover/videogame player/comic book reader/George Lucas-opinion-haver variety [but]...will also include aficionados of athletes, celebrities, and authors."

    Have you been tracking the development of fan-focused shows? Write about it 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: Giving people what they want

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 28 April 2013 - 6:55pm
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    • Slate wrote about how badly the DMCA affects accessibility of technology from ebooks to online videos. "[P]ublishers, video programmers, and other copyright owners lock down digital content with digital rights management technology designed to limit users’ ability to access, copy, and adapt copyrighted works to specific circumstances. And copyright owners frequently fail to account for the need to adapt DRM-encumbered works to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

      For example, e-books often include DRM technology that prevents people who are blind or visually impaired from running e-books that they have lawfully purchased through a text-to-speech converter that reads the books aloud. Similarly, Internet-distributed video and DVD and Blu-ray discs include DRM features that prevent researchers from developing advanced closed captioning and video description technologies that make movies and television shows accessible."

      What's more the process is the same one the OTW has to follow to maintain its DMCA exemption for fan video makers. "Requiring nonprofit disability groups to ask permission from the government every three years and navigate a complex legal minefield to implement urgently needed accessibility technology is not compatible with progressive, conservative, or libertarian values; the goal of equal access for people with disabilities; or common sense.”

    • Two of the OTW's Legal Committee members, Heidi Tandy and Rebecca Tushnet, recently were on a fanfiction panel with Vice President and Senior Intellectual Property Counsel for Warner Bros, Dale Nelson at the 6th Annual PIPG Symposium. Tushnet wrote about the panel and Nelson's discussion of fan activities: "Fan activity is fans having fun. Are they legitimate, are they acting from love? Or do they see fan activity as a loophole—make a fan film to showcase talent without having read Harry Potter? It’s not fans commercializing the property. We have exclusive rights; commercialization/merchandising in particular will draw our attention. But we tolerate a lot, including fan films, websites (the Leaky Cauldron, popular HP site); Dallas fan site; Lord of the Rings fan site; Quiddich players." She also responded later that it was how they interpreted fan intentions that mattered the most. For example, running ads on a website was usually not an issue because "some fan activities/sites do involve costs, and if it couldn’t run ads/raise a little money it wouldn’t exist."
    • Techdirt posted about a White House petition aimed at changing copyright for the digital age. "The petition notes that the public has lost respect for copyright law, and the government should take steps to fix that, including securing first sale rights, more transparency and a right to remix." Fan rights are expressed in the following: "[A]s responsible creators we need to be able to freely remix existing music and other forms of creative expression to create new works without undue fear of prosecution. This upholds the original Constitutional purpose of copyright, which is to promote progress."
    • Popular bookmarking site Pinboard has made it easier for fans to use it. "For months now it's been possible to declare yourself a part of fandom on the Pinboard settings page, but apart from making people feel good, the checkbox had no practical effect. I've finally changed that by offering a version of the sitewide search engine scoped only to users who self-declare as fans. This should make it easier to find fic using common keywords that would get drowned out on the main search page."

    Do you have stories about fan-focused technology or legal developments? Write about it 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: Fanfiction, where can you find it?

    By Claudia Rebaza on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 - 5:07pm
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    • College newspapers are a constant source of stories on fanfiction, but The Varsity tried to take a more comprehensive look at the practice, noting that "fan fiction predates the Internet. In fact, amateur press associations, which first flourished in the early decades of the 20th century, provided a way for aspiring writers to put together and share their own magazines and works of fiction. A distribution manager or official editor would collect the magazines and letter publications and send them to other members of the association. In the 1930s, fans of science fiction magazines printed their own mimeographed or hectographed works which contained their own reviews, printed fiction, and even art."
    • Meanwhile The Londonist decided to write fanfiction as a review of a play that was itself RPF. The play takes the real-life inspirations for Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan and has them meet "at a bookshop in the 1930s...An American playwright, John Logan, takes this meeting as his inspiration; the ensuing 90-minutes muse on the nature of childhood, the draw of fantasy, memory, loss, celebrity and several other things besides." The review is in the style of J.M. Barrie writing to Arthur Llewelyn Davies about the play he's just seen.
    • Speaking of RPF, it isn't just AUs and canon fiction rewrites that are getting published these days. In an interview about her book, Tell Me You Want Me, writer Amelia James is open about her inspiration for the novel. "I had lots of downtime to daydream with Eliot in the center of all my fantasies. I had to know more about him, so I read Christian Kane's bio and dusted off my Angel DVDs...I started a short story about a cocky college quarterback with a smile like an angel and deep blue eyes that promised sin: Austin Sinclair. But long hair just didn't work on him. I couldn't picture it, so I gave him a best friend, Jack Wheeler. Jack became everything I'd imagined about Eliot — a tormented past, a wounded heart and long dark hair a woman could get tangled up in."
    • Unfortunately all the coverage of a fanfiction reference on The Good Wife seemed to play into the show's framing of fanfiction writing as something unusual and unknown. Instead it's something that shows up in the general media all the time, and is connected to just about anything.

    If you have your own take on all the places fanfiction can be found, write an entry 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: What fanworks do

    By Claudia Rebaza on Friday, 19 April 2013 - 6:52pm
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    • Spectacle: The Music Video is "the first museum exhibition to celebrate the art and history of the music video...the exhibition reveals the enormous influence music videos have had on contemporary culture over the past 35 years." Included in the exhibition are fan videos -- Killa and T. Jonesy's vid "Closer" and Luminosity's vid "Vogue". The exhibit opened on April 2 at the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC and continues until June 16.
    • Former OTW Board member Francesca Coppa's Transmedia vs Fan Media presentation was live blogged and made available on Swarthmore University's website. "Coppa shifts to discussing vidding, the making of fan music videos out of television or film clips. Vids translate “from narrative to poetry.” Vids are lyrical and emotion-driven rather than plot-driven works...Coppa asks the audience to take a few notes while she shows a series of Harry Potter vids, paying special attention to narrative structure, color manipulation, timing and editing, and song choice. Everything in vids is intentional."
    • One advantage of fanart is the way it can cross language barriers to spread fandom joy. Aja Romano wrote about a fanart challenge that began in Japanese-language Sherlock fandom and spread on Tumblr to its English-language counterpart. "Taken together, the works of fanart from 101 Japanese-language artists form a meme collage...Though each one is using the same basic body pose and layout, when viewed closer, they're all different." The meme has since spread to other fandoms.
    • Wired wrote about charity fundraisers in a variety of fandoms. "Here’s the thing about geeks...more than just about anyone, we’ve figured out how to digitally connect with each other, and how to use the internet as an extension of ourselves. Yes, some of our time will always be spent arguing over whether Matt Smith or David Tennant is the better Doctor — but that same passion, interconnectivity, and OCD-ness can be used for good. The trick is to keep that in mind — even when somebody’s totally wrong about Doctor Who — and see what else we can accomplish."

    If you have your own fandom activities to talk about, write an entry 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: Fair Use and the Modern Fan

    By Claudia Rebaza on Monday, 15 April 2013 - 6:55pm
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    • On the Media aired an episode on the Past, Present and Future of Ownership, which included a number of good stories, including discussion of the art piece 'DRM Chair' "that collapses after just eight uses." Host Brooke Gladstone concluded with an observation on the origins of the word 'property.' "Eight hundred years ago or so, property’s meaning was pretty much related to the essential nature of something, as in it’s the property of water to conform to the shape of the vessel it’s in. The fact is property didn’t come to mean possession until the 17th century...Now our world runs on property...Once we dwelled in a brick-and-mortar world. Now, as poet Kenneth Goldsmith observed, we swim in a digital ocean. The only certainty is that in such a fluid situation, 20 years hence, property will not mean what it means today." (Transcripts available)
    • Among the people interviewed in the episode was OTW Legal Committee member, Rebecca Tushnet about the legal aspects of fanfiction. "There are such things as commercial fair uses. When 'The Daily Show' runs clips from the news and comments on them, that's fair use. And it's possible to have fictional fair uses, as well. However, the bar is higher and it really would be a case-by-case determination. For example there is a preacher who wrote a version of Harry Potter in which Harry Potter came to Jesus and renounced magic because it was evil. Whether or not that's good, it clearly does have a critical message that comments on the original and is something that would never be part of the original. And that makes it have a good case for fair use, even if he then solicits donations or even sells it for a buck." (Transcript available)
    • Another piece about fanfiction was posted on the site by Laura Mayer, discussing how it can emerge from episode recaps of reality shows. "Hype has been swirling around fan fiction for the past few months – the idea of hoards of super-fans, sitting in their homes, solitarily fleshing out the world and the characters from their beloved fiction. But it’s not just pure fiction that gets this treatment. Since there’s so much reality television on the dial, reality TV has been getting the fan fiction treatment, too." However, her examples all come from media sources, entirely ignoring the very long history of RPF. "This isn’t a new thing. Back in the days of 2010, Richard Lawson became the father of reality television fan fiction. While at Gawker he wrote recap upon recap of the Real Housewives of New York. Each post covered the basic details of the episode, sure. But what made these recaps so readable was the fantastical, borderline science-fiction, turns they took."

    If you have your own RPF fandom tales to tell, 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: Fandom ignited

    By Claudia Rebaza on Saturday, 13 April 2013 - 6:06pm
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    • The Japan Times talked about the anime industry catching up to the online revolution. "Today the despised former pirates at Crunchyroll.com — a now-legal multilingual Web portal for non-Japanese anime fans — are leading an industry revolution in content delivery and distribution, and Japanese producers are following their lead. Heavyweight veterans such as Toei, Bandai, Sunrise and others are scrambling to preview and offer their titles internationally via streaming sites like YouTube, Hulu, Niconico and Netflix. A new producer-collaborative streaming anime site, Daisuki, sponsored in part by one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, Dentsu, goes live in April. And a Japan-based site for videos about Japanese pop culture called Waoryu debuted last month."
    • Stephanie Mlot claimed in PC Magazine that 2013 Is the Best Time To Be a Fangirl. Discussing the record breaking fundraising success for a Veronica Mars movie, Mlot discussed statistics. "This month's SXSW boasted 31 Kickstarter-backed movies, and Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler said this week that 10 percent of the films that debuted at Sundance raised money on the site...The letter-writing campaigns of yore have given way to Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Kickstarter movements, taking 'power to the people' to a more sophisticated, and often more effective level. Still, it's unlikely that crowd-funded entertainment will become the new normal. Hollywood can't, and won't, subside on scraps from even the wealthiest of adoring fans," in part because the costs for the typical film or television series are so high.
    • Her Universe, a creator of fannish women's apparel, has begun a Year of the Fangirl promotion, featuring women telling their fannish stories after being nominated by other fans. One of them, Tricia Barr, advised fans to find their voices. "I always believed women would come into our own in fandom. Powered by a surge of female fans coming to the fore, a female-led action movie ruled at the box office and the range of stories with strong female characters is becoming almost limitless in books, comics, movies, and television. Doors are opening for women specifically because they are fangirls...Voice your opinions, hopes, or desires about the stories that you feel passionate about. Respect that every other fan – including the ones creating those stories – brings their own unique perspective."

    If you have your own fannish history to share, 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.

  • The OTW's 2012 Community Survey report is now available

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sunday, 31 March 2013 - 5:23pm
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    Last year the OTW ran a large survey to collect information from its user community about their use of our projects and awareness of our activities. There were 5,895 people who answered. Some early results were reported in the Survey Sunday posts on OTW News.

    A report of all the survey results is now complete and is available as a single report (5.65 MB PDF). Given that the survey contained 89 questions and all questions have one or more graphs, this is a long document (183 pages in all). However, it is broken down into sections for the various projects and also includes a cross-tabulated section. We hope it will make for an interesting read!

    For those who are interested, here is a look at the table of contents:

    About the Survey
    Locations and Languages
    Fannish Locations and Activities
    Archive of Our Own
    Fanlore
    Fan Video and Multimedia Projects
    Transformative Works and Cultures
    Legal Advocacy
    Open Doors
    OTW Membership
    OTW Awareness
    OTW Website
    Open-Ended Response
    Cross-Tabulated Responses
    Conclusion

    You can also find a complete list of the survey questions here.

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