Just to cal­i­brate the audi­ence, I want to ask three ques­tions, and please applaud because I can’t see you very well. Please clap your hands if you’ve nev­er heard of fan­f­ic. [Clapping.] Okay. And please clap your hands if you’ve heard of slash and know what it is. [Clapping.] I hear a woo.” And please clap your hands if you write fan­f­ic. [Very lit­tle clap­ping.] It’s the dark! You can clap. No one can see you. Okay, thank you very much.

So in 1967, I think it was, when Gene Roddenberry brought Star Trek out into the world, he cre­at­ed this cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non and it wasn’t real­ly appar­ent at the time; the series wasn’t that pop­u­lar. But the peo­ple who were into it real­ly real­ly real­ly got into it. There’s some­thing about this idea of a multi‐ethnic, multi‐cultural, very good‐looking group of peo­ple wan­der­ing the uni­verse, apply­ing the Prime Directive and the occa­sion­al phas­er set to stun to the galac­tic prob­lems of the day that just cap­tures the imag­i­na­tion. And of course the hero of the show was Captain James Tiberius Kirk, a very pas­sion­ate man. You could say he was sort of a space har­lot who whether your skin was white or black or green or blue, it didn’t mat­ter. You knew that you were wel­come in the Captain’s quar­ters. But you also knew that come the next episode you would be for­got­ten. Because at the emo­tion­al heart of the show was the rela­tion­ship between the stormy Captain and his ice‐cold, calm and col­lect­ed Mr. Spock. So it was a rela­tion­ship between two men, or more pre­cise­ly, one and a half men and one half of a Vulcan, that was the motor of Star Trek.

This was the 60s so you’re not real­ly allowed to have sub­text back then. I mean, there was a show called I Dream of Genie where an American mil­i­tary offi­cer has full con­trol of a scantily‐clad blonde woman who lives in a bot­tle and does his bid­ding, and yet there was no innu­en­do there. So I mean, you know, you can’t have any, let alone homo­erot­ic, innu­en­do.

Kirk and Spock's heads photomanipulated onto the bodies of two bare-chested men against an alien planet background.

But you know, fans are smart and the kind of peo­ple who wrote sto­ries about Star Trek (and this start­ed ear­ly on) saw through this ruse and under­stood that oth­er fan­f­ic writ­ers want­ed to read about man going bold­ly where man has nev­er gone before, or Vulcan for that mat­ter. So this unfor­tu­nate­ly caused a rift not in the space‐time con­tin­u­um but it near­ly tore the Star Trek fan­dom asun­der and was dis­cussed heav­i­ly in the ear­ly 70s at a con­fer­ence where there was a big ker­fuf­fle about fan­f­ic authors (who’re pri­mar­i­ly het­ero­sex­u­al women) writ­ing these incred­i­bly racy sto­ries about Kirk vs. Spock. It was such a phe­nom­e­non that it became known as The Premise, or lat­er on K/S” for Kick and Spock and that slash became the gener­ic cover‐all term for fic­tion that was homo­erot­ic between these male pro­tag­o­nists. Starsky and Hutch was kin­da the next one up. You had a lot of great poten­tial in those old TV shows.

So slash was very under­ground to begin with. You had to work pret­ty hard to find this stuff. You couldn’t just send away for it because fans were very con­scious of the fact that Gene Roddenberry wasn’t going to be look­ing too hap­pi­ly on hard­core homo­sex­u­al erot­i­ca about his family‐friendly TV show. But it was there, and as fan­dom moved from the world of zines and pho­to­copies to mail­ing lists and Usenet and then onto the Internet and kind of found its Nirvana and its mil­len­ni­um in LiveJournal dur­ing a few years before LiveJournal made a huge mis­take and alien­at­ed fan­dom, slash became more and more close to the sur­face, because it got more and more obvi­ous that peo­ple real­ly dug this stuff.

There’s almost a cliche in the world of fan fic­tion about peo­ple expound­ing on slash. Why do peo­ple write this and why do peo­ple read it? And I kind of agree that it’s a sil­ly thing. I’m not going to come up on stage and talk to you at length about why het­ero­sex­u­al men view videos of two women mak­ing out and find that appeal­ing. But for some rea­son peo­ple feel the need to explain slash as a cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non and you know, What is is that makes it so fun to write and read?” I’m just going to accept it as it is and you’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing at this point, What is this weird Polish‐named guy doing up here talk­ing about Kirk drilling Spock?” And some of you are like, That’s fine, please con­tin­ue. Do you have more slides?”

I’m here by way of atone­ment, because I used to be a real jerk about fan­dom, and I used to make fun of them, and think they were wast­ing their time. And then I had this kin­da life‐changing come‐to‐Jesus moment that I want to talk to you about and this real­ly weird arti­fact that got pro­duced part­ly because of me, and it’s com­plete­ly changed my think­ing. And as I’ve got­ten to know fan­dom and real­ly like them, I’ve come to believe that they kind of rep­re­sent a future and a mod­el for what com­mu­ni­ties are like on the Internet when you have actu­al peo­ple using machines to talk to one anoth­er rather than this kind of invent­ed sense of what social life and social net­works are sup­posed to be like, the way we’ve engi­neered them.

So let me give you just a tiny lit­tle bit of back­ground about me and my involve­ment.

This is Joshua Schachter. In 2004 he wrote a web­site called Delicious. Anybody use Delicious in the past or present? [Clapping.] Alright, yes is the answer. It was the first social book­mark­ing site. The real­ly inno­v­a­tive thing about it was not just that peo­ple can kind of book­mark things of inter­est and see what oth­er peo­ple are book­mark­ing, but he had this tags” field, which at the time no one had real­ly done except Flickr, that came out at rough­ly the same time. And the tags field, I remem­ber not know­ing what it was for. He explained it to me basi­cal­ly as a search engine in reverse. Rather than typ­ing in some­thing to find results, when you save some­thing for lat­er, why don’t you type down the the stuff that you’re going to prob­a­bly use as key­words when you look for it long after it’s for­got­ten? Blew my mind, but what blew everybody’s mind was the fact that when you col­lect­ed tags from a bunch of dif­fer­ent peo­ple, even if you didn’t tell them any instruc­tions about what to do or what vocab­u­lary to use and all that, you still got real­ly great results. The more peo­ple tagged stuff, the more rel­e­vant and descrip­tive the col­lec­tive tags for stuff would be.

Joshua took that straight to Yahoo!. Yahoo! at the time had rooms full of peo­ple whose job it was to cat­e­go­rize web sites. They had been a web direc­to­ry orig­i­nal­ly and were still try­ing to kin­da do this as the web was grow­ing, and he said you can do this kind of Tom Sawyer‐style. Have every­body white­wash the fence for you. Collect this data, wrap adver­tis­ing around it, give it back to them and you’re going to win. And Flickr and Delicious, Yahoo! bought them both for that rea­son. Some years down the line, I was talk­ing to Britta Gustafson, won­der­ful woman, real­ly great diplo­mat. She can jiu jit­su even the most tox­ic peo­ple, includ­ing myself. And we were talk­ing about tags on Delicious and she said, You should look at the fan­f­ic peo­ple. They’re doing crazy stuff.” And I was, “[Groan] the fan­f­ic. Come on. Lame.” And she said, Listen to me. Why don’t you go take a look at what I just said.”

Screenshot of a tag cloud, various terms highlighted or in different colors.

This morn­ing I pulled up my own tag cloud from Pinboard. This is kind of typ­i­cal of what tag­ging is for non‐fanfic peo­ple. Over the years, I’ve accrued the weird­est tags. I just type any­thing that comes to my mind. I have no dis­ci­pline about it. Some peo­ple are much more focused when they tag. They treat it like fold­ers; maybe they only have ten or twelve tags that they fit every­thing into. But the fan­f­ic peo­ple, they trumped us all. What they basi­cal­ly did is they came up with a set of con­ven­tions that allowed them to turn Delicious into a cus­tom search engine for fan fic­tion. So let me give you some exam­ples of that.

fan-022

Some of the obvi­ous stuff. You have pair­ings. When you get into fan­dom you under­stand that there’s peo­ple kind of cen­tered around dif­fer­ent shows, and then every­body has their own favorite pair­ing. Maybe you’re a Harry and Draco Malfoy sort of per­son, or maybe you’re a tra­di­tion­al­ist so it’s Kirk and Spock for you even though it’s been years and years. The oth­er thing I need to explain is in Delicious you could com­pose tags, so you could stack them one on top of the oth­er (no innu­en­do intend­ed) and then you would get a fil­ter of stuff that matched only those cri­te­ria. So this was a way you could sub­scribe to the newest sto­ries. And peo­ple, they pro­duced mas­sive amounts of fic­tions so you could real­ly fil­ter it down and still get new things.

So you could fil­ter by pair­ing, there’s these kind of metatags, like this hasn’t been cat­e­go­rized yet,” so you know, need­stags”. Kink; you can be very spe­cif­ic. I’m into dom­i­nance and sub­mis­sion” or you could have a foot fetish, or I want to read about bondage.” This cool excla­ma­tion point syn­tax that orig­i­nat­ed from fan­dom where could have a char­ac­ter, but some­thing unusu­al hap­pens to them that’s not real­ly in the sto­ry, so here Snape has been kid­napped by some­one. I won­der what they’re going to do with him.

This is one I like a lot, which is chapters‐read”, like it’s a long piece of fic­tion, how far have you got­ten. The match­mak­er” one is kin­da cool. Spock Prime, who knew that Spoke Prime was a lit­tle go‐to, who would actu­al­ly be the one who got Kirk and Spock Regular togeth­er?

Things are cat­e­go­rized by tropes. Some peo­ple use it almost as a hier­ar­chy. So this is one woman’s tag that’s got five lay­ers in it. It’s meta fan­dom female char­ac­ters and then Stargate as the spe­cif­ic show.

And then my favorite exam­ple, at the bot­tom, took advan­tage of the fact that there’s auto‐complete in this inter­face, so when you type the first char­ac­ter you see a list of the tags that start with it. So she was very care­ful to cat­e­go­rize things so the apos­tro­phe meant it was a gen­er­al cat­e­go­ry, the star meant what char­ac­ter in the sto­ry, the plus was for pair­ings, the @ is for the actu­al author of the fic (in this case it’s anony­mous). The caret was for her com­men­tary, allthe­feels” mean­ing this is a real emo­tion­al roller­coast­er on this one. And then word count. So if you want stuff that’s less than 10,000 words long, you put in that tag.

It’s incred­i­ble how much effort they put into them. Because every­body was using rough­ly the same con­ven­tions they could find one another’s fic through Delicious.

So around 2009, I start­ed a web site called Pinboard which was a book­mark­ing site. Basically, Delicious redesigned in a way that I hat­ed and in order to not just com­plain all the time, I tried to make my own ver­sion of what I used to like in Delicious. And I real­ly want­ed to seduce these fans with their amaz­ing tags, but they were real­ly attached. Delicious had this Firefox plu­g­in that was super‐fancy. They had all their stuff there. They’re sen­ti­men­tal peo­ple to begin with. So I didn’t real­ly have any suc­cess in get­ting the fans to come over, until these two fools kind of looked at each oth­er.

They’re the YouTube founders, Chad Hurley and Steven Chen. Maybe they’re won­der­ful peo­ple, kind to ani­mals, beloved by chil­dren. I don’t know them per­son­al­ly, but they kind of bun­gled their way through the Delicious pur­chase. Like, Chad looked at Steve and was like, Brooo, you wan­na buy Delicious?” and Steve’s like, Bro, total­ly, let’s buy it.”

And so they bought it and they poured a lot of mon­ey into it, and then they had this uncloak­ing of their new design. And part of the new design was destroy­ing a lot of fea­tures that the fans real­ly loved. So one thing, they got rid of the sup­port forum, so you couldn’t pub­licly com­plain about any­thing. And then they got rid of the abil­i­ty to see all your tags, which you can imag­ine for some­one with a sys­tem like that is just ter­ri­ble. But the thing that killed fan­dom on Delicious was you couldn’t put the slash tag into the search box any­more. So you know, there is no God, life has no mean­ing, it’s over when you can search on the slash tag.

Being a can­ny busi­ness­man, I tweet­ed to the world a gen­tle reminder that I had through hard work enabled Unicode sup­port for the “/” tag.

https://​mobile​.twit​ter​.com/​P​i​n​b​o​a​r​d​/​s​t​a​t​u​s​/​118723536222302208

So fan­dom kind of dis­patched a probe to see if I was worth fur­ther study. And they talked to me a bit and they’re like, Well you know, there’s some stuff that is miss­ing that we real­ly rely heav­i­ly upon.” And in my fool­ish­ness I said, Could you make a list? I’ll take a look. Maybe some of it is easy to imple­ment.” And I kind of start­ed this mon­ster.

A grid of images representing and overview of the pages of a large document, showing text in various colors, highlighting styles, and indention levels

So for three days I watched this Google Doc grow. It end­ed up being fifty‐two pages long. And I want­ed to show you some of the high­lights of it.

You know, Google engi­neers this stuff pret­ty heav­i­ly, but at cer­tain times it was locked because there were too many peo­ple edit­ing it con­cur­rent­ly. There were always at least fifty view­ers, but some­times it was just read‐only because there were how­ev­er many peo­ple try­ing to make changes. These are all anony­mous users, but they some­how seemed to know each oth­er? So here’s the first page of it.

So, first instruc­tion read the entire thing before you do any­thing.” And then instruc­tions about how you have to be in chat now, please don’t insert any­thing in the table of con­tents because there’s a real­ly OCD per­son who’s doing just that and you’re not as OCD so just relax. And then the friend­ly color‐coding and every­thing like that.

So you had to study this doc­u­ment before you con­tributed to it at all. And basi­cal­ly it con­sist­ed of all these fea­ture requests and then peo­ple would vote on it, but they would vote on it by just typ­ing in a lit­tle arrow and their vote after­wards, and there’s noth­ing to keep track of who had writ­ten what but some­how they man­aged it any­way? And I was real­ly afraid of what was hap­pen­ing so I ven­tured into this doc­u­ment and I made my text orange so I’d be kind of faint, but I start­ed hav­ing dis­cus­sions with peo­ple. So here you have a back and forth where some­one requests some­thing and I reply at length and then they decide, Hey I’ll just build an app, for exam­ple, that maps Delicious user­names to Pinboard ones because that’ll be handy” and you know the oth­er fans will appre­ci­ate it, so some­one built an app on Heroku and put it up, and put a link into it into this doc­u­ment that’s spi­ral­ing out of con­trol.

And then one of the nicest bits here [page 53] is there’s a warn­ing say­ing Please don’t slash Maciej. He’s not okay with it. We want him to like us.” and there’s this debate about whether it’s okay to write slash fic­tion about me, or Pinboard in a fic­tion­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion and why that’s going to alien­ate me. I was just laugh­ing. It’s won­der­ful, right? And also some­one has already writ­ten a fic about the writ­ing of this doc­u­ment and they’ve linked it back in a meta sort of thing. And then some­one else asks for a fea­ture and then they just put Javascript right in [page 46], Oh yeah that’s eas­i­ly fix­able. I’m going to go ahead and do that.”

So some­one had cre­at­ed a tuto­r­i­al for how to write this doc­u­ment. Someone else, all she did was indent and fix the indents and was thanked for it. There’s a cred­its sec­tion, there’s an index, it’s cross‐referenced. MLA‐style cita­tions. This thing is intense. And at the very end of it peo­ple start putting thank‐yous and they change the text col­or for dif­fer­ent users. So I’d like to very briefly give a dra­mat­ic read­ing of the fic that was writ­ten about Pinboard.

It was almost noon when Pinboard stum­bled into the office, eyes bleary. His shirt, Delicious not­ed, was but­toned crooked.

And where have YOU been all morn­ing?” Delicious asked. The split‐second glance away from the com­put­er had been a bad idea; there was already a full screen of new com­plaints in his inbox.

Nothing much,” Pinboard said as he boot­ed up his own machine and start­ed typ­ing hasti­ly.

Delicious held his fin­ger down on the delete key until all the new mes­sages van­ished, then risked a sec­ond glance over at his office mate. Pinboard already had a dizzy­ing array of win­dows open on his five mon­i­tors, but Delicious’s atten­tion was instant­ly drawn to the one with mul­ti­col­ored text. He squint­ed. One of the names looked famil­iar–

Hey! You’ve been talk­ing with Fandom!”

We had a good brain­storm­ing ses­sion last night,” Pinboard said mod­est­ly. He reached up to push a lock of hair behind his ear. An ear, Delicious not­ed with hor­ror, that had a bruise on its lobe. There were more bruis­es run­ning down his neck, a line of love bites that van­ished under his shirt.
Ambyr, The Morning After

This goes on but time con­straints pre­vent me from read­ing any more. This is writ­ten by a won­der­ful woman whose han­dle is Ambyr. She gra­cious­ly con­sent­ed for me to give a read­ing here of this fic. Anyway, the point you should under­stand is these are won­der­ful peo­ple. And if you’ve ever used to deal­ing with anony­mous users on‐line, this is like a mir­ror world where YouTube com­menters are trans­formed into the most sup­port­ive and friend­ly and mutu­al­ly help­ful bunch. And it com­plete­ly blew my mind. So I want to run through some low‐hanging fruit sort of items that you can… I know you’re sent here by your employ­ers, you want to go back and like, you know: Lessons Learned, action items and things. So let me take a lit­tle tour there.

First of all, fans, they’re just so nice. They’re so nice. So stop being mean to them if you’ve ever been mean to them like I used to be. Because we live in a cul­ture that cel­e­brates a man with a met­al stick spend­ing thir­ty years of his life try­ing to hit a ball into a hole, and he’s described as coura­geous and there’s a sto­ry arc to his life or what­ev­er. So a hob­by where you’re just writ­ing sto­ries is not so weird.

Fans are impor­tant because they fight cen­sor­ship. And this is a big tragedy and you know, fans love dra­ma so they tend to dra­ma­tize their his­to­ry, but they’ve had some moments. And one of them was when LiveJournal decid­ed that in order to pro­tect the chil­dren, the were going to ban all these com­mu­ni­ties that sup­port crim­i­nal activ­i­ty. Their def­i­n­i­tion of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty was, We’re going to look at key­words in these com­mu­ni­ties, and any­thing that sounds wrong, you know, incest, rape, abuse, what­ev­er. It means you’re a crim­i­nal.” So they banned 500 com­mu­ni­ties, rein­stat­ed 350 of them even­tu­al­ly, but not just fans who were obvi­ous­ly writ­ing their sto­ries, but incest sur­vivors who were dis­cussing it… A very heavy‐handed move, and fans often find them­selves the first vic­tims of this kind of thing, because the stuff they write tests bound­aries. You saw just recent­ly on Tumblr, when Tumblr, acquired by Yahoo! decid­ed, Oh no! Pornography, can nev­er show it again. So we’re going to hide it. You can’t search for gay’ any­more, for exam­ple, on Tumblr and have it have pub­lic results come up.” Fans are often right there in the trench­es, so sup­port them because what they’re doing is won­der­ful and legit­i­mate.

Kind of in a relat­ed thing, fans fight for pri­va­cy. Fandom, it’s most­ly a women’s com­mu­ni­ty. They have an inter­est­ing take on pri­va­cy, and what I’ve come to under­stand is that fans aren’t ashamed of what they’re doing, but hav­ing the abil­i­ty to have pseu­do­nyms or a sep­a­rate iden­ti­ty from their day‐to‐day one gives them free­dom to write what they want and inter­act how they want. And we live in a time when these very cen­tral­iz­ing sites are try­ing to teth­er us to our real names. Fans fight for this, and they also demon­strate that you can have an anony­mous or pseu­do­ny­mous com­mu­ni­ty that’s not just full of hor­ri­ble trolls as long as peo­ple inter­act with each oth­er over time. So fans are fight­ing for our pri­va­cy.

And they nev­er sold out, man. There were all these attempts to cre­ate fan fic­tion sites and you even saw one or two weeks ago, Amazon intro­duces Kindle Worlds, where Kindle’s gra­cious­ly licensed some of these fic­tion­al realms and you can write sto­ries about them. If you look at the terms and con­di­tions, there can’t be any sex in them, and there’s all this oth­er stuff. But you get some pit­tance of a per­cent­age of every sto­ry you sell. And fans have tak­en an hon­est look at this, but they’re like No, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.” Which is trans­gress­ing, which is kind of awe­some, and used to be what the Internet was sup­posed to bring us, these edgy free­doms. This is a quote from some shill at LucasFilm where he says

We’ve been very clear all along on where we draw the line,” said Jim Ward, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for Lucasfilm. We love our fans. We want them to have fun. But if in fact some­body is using our char­ac­ters to cre­ate a sto­ry unto itself, that’s not in the spir­it of what we think fan­dom is about. Fandom is about cel­e­brat­ing the sto­ry the way it is.”

Enh, no. Fandom is a big mid­dle fin­ger raised at this dude. A sub­cul­ture that’s old­er than the Internet and is still some­thing I can talk about to a gen­er­al audi­ence and some of you might be hear­ing about it for the first time, that’s pret­ty cool. They’ve kept it real.

Fans improve our cul­ture. Part of the rea­son our tele­vi­sion shows suck less than they used to is because peo­ple are more sophis­ti­cat­ed about the way they watch them. There may be tech­no­log­i­cal rea­sons for this; we can binge on stuff now dozens of episodes at a time. But there’s also a real sense in which fan­dom ana­lyzes this stuff to death, decon­structs it. There’s tons of aca­d­e­mics, librar­i­ans, pro­fes­sors, just gen­er­al smart peo­ple no mat­ter what their jobs are, who are in fan­dom and love to pick stuff apart and glue it back togeth­er in dif­fer­ent ways. And this kind of per­co­lates back into the cul­ture. It cre­ates more sophis­ti­cat­ed view­ers and that means the stuff we watch is just bet­ter.

A few more ranty items while I have a lit­tle time.

This is a big one. Social is not a syrup or a sauce or a gravy, it’s not even a noun. But we have this ten­den­cy to like, there’s these two ele­ments right? So there’s con­tent. Content is a tofu‐like gelati­nous sub­stance, which you can cut into cus­tom pieces. And then there’s social, which is this condi­ment that you pour over it. And I’ve tried to stop using the word con­tent” at all because I find it so objec­tion­able. This idea that we’re going to engi­neer web sites and then just sprin­kle social onto it and have a com­mu­ni­ty. Real com­mu­ni­ties don’t work like that. Real com­mu­ni­ties are peo­ple who have long mem­o­ries, and inter­act with each oth­er over time, and can take your prod­uct or leave it. It’s might incon­ve­nience them, but you’re not the boss of them. I think it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that.

Something counter‐intuitive to me was a lot of this fan stuff, they would use tools and web sites and plu­g­ins and Greasemonkey, like five things at once, and it’s real­ly hard to get your mind around it. My instinct was couldn’t this be done more eas­i­ly or more intu­itive­ly? But it’s actu­al­ly the dif­fi­cul­ty of the tools and the norms of the com­mu­ni­ty [that] pro­tect it. It takes a while. You have to be com­mit­ted to start con­tribut­ing because you have to learn how all this stuff works.

This isn’t just fan­dom. You know those awful PHP‐based mes­sage boards like, I like to scu­ba dive so I go to the scu­ba board some­times and I have no idea how to use it but there’s some real­ly infor­ma­tive peo­ple on there. I think that these ter­ri­ble inter­faces actu­al­ly serve a pro­tec­tive func­tion where they keep the com­mu­ni­ty iso­lat­ed from just drive‐by com­ments. If you ever go to the Guardian or the New York Times, places where you can actu­al­ly com­ment very eas­i­ly with­out ever hav­ing been there before, the com­ments are just total­ly trash. And I won­der some­times if it’s because it’s too easy to do it.

Lurkers are watch­ing you, and they out­num­ber every­body else, so your behav­ior— For exam­ple, LiveJournal didn’t think there was going to be a big deal about ban­ning all these fans, but for every per­son who spoke out there were ten peo­ple who were watch­ing to see what would hap­pen. This is some­thing to be real­ly care­ful about. And a corol­lary of that is just stop futz­ing with it. Don’t mess with it. If you have a nice site just don’t refresh it. Just leave it, because it’s good. On LiveJournal for exam­ple, fans, a lot of them would use user icons as com­men­tary to their posts. There’s be a one‐sentence com­ment, but then the user icon, they would have 900 of them and they would pick the one that best com­ple­ment­ed it. It was a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. LiveJournal decid­ed for some rea­son you have to lim­it this to what­ev­er it was, twen­ty or thir­ty, because no rea­son. And so they killed this fea­ture of their site they didn’t even under­stand.

Which leads to the corol­lary shut up and lis­ten.” People are using your sites in ways you might not be famil­iar with. Why not have a look and see what it is, or ask? People are amaz­ing­ly forth­com­ing about it, and it’s very rare that any­body gets asked, so take advan­tage of it.

Breakups are real­ly hard both on com­mu­ni­ties and on sites, like when a tight‐knit com­mu­ni­ty choos­es to leave they real­ly all go in one piece. Delicious, the whole thing was like a stam­pede away from it. Not every­body came to Pinboard, but pret­ty much every­body left Delicious. And this is kind of an irrev­o­ca­ble thing. When your site los­es a com­mu­ni­ty, they’re not going to come back eas­i­ly because there’s such a high acti­va­tion ener­gy bar­ri­er to them leav­ing in the first place, you real­ly have to exas­per­ate them. In that way it’s a lot like human rela­tion­ships. Once you move out from your spouse’s house, it’s prob­a­bly because you real­ly can’t take it any­more.

And last­ly two things, or three. One, we are all fans. So whether or not you write fan­f­ic, or have any inter­est in it, there’s stuff that you like to read or watch or what­ev­er else. So let that be a guide to you to empathize with peo­ple who like to take a more active approach to it. And then, this might sound a lit­tle bit maudlin, but I think it’s true that fan­dom actu­al­ly changes lives. Britta had a real­ly nice way of putting it that for some young women fan­dom is this kind of secret sem­i­nar in fem­i­nism and is life‐changing to them. For oth­er peo­ple it has that same effect on sex­u­al­i­ty and gen­der and even know­ing that there’s such a thing as a gen­der iden­ti­ty that you can choose. Some peo­ple dis­cov­er that through fan­dom. For a lot of peo­ple it’s their hap­py place, and it’s impor­tant to have a hap­py place, some place you go and you can con­tribute and be active and con­nect­ed. We’re told that the Internet is so alien­at­ing, but com­mu­ni­ties like this prove that it’s the oppo­site that’s true.

So I want to just say a big hooray and yay to fan­dom and then encour­age every­body to go see, a lot of this talk came from fan​lore​.org, which is run by the Organization for Transformative Works, the Archive of Our Own is what Britta calls the friend­liest damn open source project on the Internet.” The only place that will actu­al­ly train you from noth­ing if you want to con­tribute, and teach you Ruby just so that you can patch this archive they’ve cre­at­ed. And Dreamwidth is a fan‐run fork of LiveJournal that adds some fea­tures for them. And then of course every day you can see what’s pop­u­lar on Pinboard among the fan­dom crowd on the fan­dom page.

So thank you all very much and thanks to all the fans who made this talk pos­si­ble.


Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Square Cash, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.