A little Friday night meta.

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Title: A little Friday night meta.
Creator: nutkin (and commenters)
Date(s): December 22, 2007
Medium: online
Fandom: all
Topic: archives, fanworks
External Links: A little Friday night meta; Archive by (nutkin)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

A little Friday night meta. is a post by nutkin on Live Journal on December 22, 2007.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts from the Essay

From nutkin:
I must be in the minority, but I have never wished that my fannish accomplishments would be acknowledged by the mainstream world. I don't feel like I have rights as a fanfiction author, or need to talk to celebrities about the fact I write stories about them. In fact, despite being part of the fannish community for eight years, I don't take it seriously at all.

Which isn't to say I don't respect people who do; I've just never understood that mentality. To me, fandom is a bigger version of when my grade school friends and I passed around stories we wrote about the four of us having magical adventures.

I put a lot of work into my fics, but they're still self-indulgent and fun and the absolute opposite of serious business. As far as I can tell, no one gets into fandom with the intention of making great works for the ages -- you have to be aware of the fact that you're playing in someone else's sandbox, and therefore playing by someone else's rules. So the concern about preserving fanworks from being taken down by C&D letters and strikethroughs and whatnot seems somewhat nonsensical, unless you've lost perspective of what your hobby is.

I don't have any big concerns for the outcomes of OTW, but it's weird to me that so many people are throwing their weight behind this concept of a united fannish front. I'd feel as strange if my stamp-collecting club decided to go all fancy non-profit all of the sudden. Is there really a purpose to it, outside of the illusion of legitimacy? How legitimate can it ever really be?

I remember being similarly puzzled when the FictionAlley archive became FictionAlley, Inc. (which is fitting, given Heidi Tandy's involvement in OTW). Granted, my knowledge of that is/was very limited, but it seems like little was accomplished except some vague acknowledgment by Warner Brothers in the spirit of, "Hey, we can make more money if we throw up some store links on these sites."

At any rate, it's obvious that OTW isn't going to change the tides of fandom dramatically for people who wish to remain unaffected. And it sure is fun to see all those wacky letters behind people's names.

Excerpts from the Comments

  • comment by ggreenapple ("I don't need, neither do I seek out, the permission of legality to tell a story. I do not need permission to think, to have an idea, to imagine. Intellectual property is rubbish. How legitimate are my own thoughts? How legitimate can they ever really be? The very question of legitimacy seems to me to fundamentally misunderstand the history, purpose, and process of storytelling -- myth and legend, the basic building blocks of our psyches, came before and will outlast the primacy of authorship and the cult of originality; but I suspect that for many, asking for legitimacy, or the recognition of it, is a concrete way of trying to understand and protect an abstract ideal.")
  • comment by valiant ("All I have to say is: Do Not Want.")
  • comment by ggreenapple ("I'm interested in OTW, and I keep an eye on their doings, but I admit I'm a bit suspect of anyone who wants to do too much meddling and lawmaking when the organic structures are already suiting us just fine. Sure, build me a better tool for keeping in touch with fandom and other people's works -- I'll use it, if it truly is a better tool. And I do hope that something useful of this nature comes from the foundation of the Organization. But if something better is being offered somewhere else? I have no loyalties. -- What's amusing is listening to people outside the otw who complain that the organization's proposed projects are going to be redundant, because "there already IS a such and such." Well, sure. But if nobody's using it... Take fanworksfinder.com for instance—I tried it, I think it's an interesting thing, I'm happy someone made it, and I'm sure it fulfills someone's needs—but it ultimately isn't useful for me. It doesn't offer anything delicious doesn't, and in fact, I find delicious more useful. There's a kind of naivety and hubris in assuming that just because you build something, they will come. If the people working for OTW can put their heads together and give us something like a mashup of LiveJournal with delicious (or I'd settle for a LiveJournal that didn't have shady connections to the Kremlin), i say: GREAT. Bring it on. If my neck of fandom sees the usefulness of it and ends up moving there? AWESOME. I'll follow. So. You know. I'm hopeful. I'm curious. I'm interested. I have my eye on it. Seeking recognition for legitimacy of fanworks... that can have its own positive consequences, and I'm optimistic. In my mind, I liken the whole thing to Stonewall, et al.—should you need to seek legitimacy for your same-sex love? Well, no. And there were many at the time on both sides who said, Why can't we/they just all stay in the dark? But from what I can see, the benefits of that search for legal permission have brought nothing but good.")
  • comment by vinylroad ("Oh, GOD. Could you IMAGINE [a "fandom government"]? I've only been in this fandom for a couple months and the "authority" that some people who have appointed themselves as BNFs and fandom "leaders" claim to possess or speak with is frightening. I can't even imagine how bad it could get if we started lending any legimitacy to it by creating a somewhat concrete hierarchy. I kind of look at it as... almost like a bit of a union. I mean, the ideal is interesting, could have potential, means to empower individuals and the group as a whole... but as soon as you start throwing people into the mix, shit tends to get FUCKED UP. The potential for abuse of power and misbehaviour is high and often unchecked.")
  • comment by nutkin ("Yeah, I have run into that more than once in my fandom experience. People love to put on the tin foil crown, although they always insist they're doing it for the good of everyone else. Obviously I'm not saying the people involved in this project are doing that, but it's something that goes through my head. IMO, it's far safer to host your crap somewhere impartial than somewhere run by fellow fans, who have their own egos and issues and cliques and everything else going on. I actually saw someone in a discussion about this project defending the choices of board members by saying that they're all BNFs and have fandom clout. Um... few if any of the BNFs I have encountered in my day are people I would ever want to see in charge of anything.")
  • comment by ana grrl ("I feel rather ambivalent about OTW. Like you, I respect people who think about fandom on different levels than I do, and I also respect the arguments made about why we should take control of fandom, and make sure that organizations like FanLib do not profit from our work. However, I do not want to contribute to an academic journal about fandom, I don't participate in a lot of the serious conversations about fandom, and to me, this very much is a hobby. In that way, it's about fun, and thinking about things that are not part of my everyday life (zombies! robots! space! porn! robots in space thinking about zombie porn! also, space cowboys and Jayne Cobb's obsession with strange things! etc), and enjoying the process of writing (I really never did think I could write fiction until I tried fanfic, and then I thought - hey! this is fun). Anyway, the point is that while I understand what OTW is trying to do, and I certainly understand the feminist aspect of (predominantly) women's work being undervalued and/or exploited, I don't feel any particular sense of kinship with the OTW language and approach. I'm just not sure it's for me, and I don't think that the idea of the OTW archive is necessarily for me.")
  • comment by vinylroad ("*SIGH* I always get worried when fandom gets "organized" because 99% of the time it not only ends unsuccessfully, it ends in DISASTER. While there are many things about fandom that I love, its propensity to facilitate high schoolish, cliquey behaviour often makes this sort of organization difficult, if not impossible.")
  • comment by nutkin ("I write what I write for myself; getting to share it with other people is a bonus, but it's not why I do it. That's completely how I feel. And that's what fandom SHOULD be about. If you're writing for comments and popularity and respect on the internets, you're falling even further from this ideal of fandom as a feminist academic movement than I am with my porn fic.")
  • comment by angstslashhope ("I want legitimacy for my hobby, yes, but when I say "legitimacy" I don't mean money, or mainstream. I mean "respect". I love the organic nature of fandom and the tradition of storytelling it perpetuates, and I don't want to see that change in any way other than its natural evolution. But, as happy-making and financial-reward-free as fandom is for me, it is a big passion of mine and a huge part of my life. As well as being my "hobby". And I would like to be able to practice it somewhere without the "threat of the Kremlin" hanging over my head (to put it crudely). I mean, the recent "Warriors for Innocence" bullshit kind of rocked fandom to the core, and no one really saw it coming, even though we were all pretty damn aware of the risk inherent in copyright & obscenity. It's pretty hard to predict whether that kind of stuff is going to happen, the only way around it having a safe environment - i.e. somewhere where you aren't going to get deleted or sued for your hobby. That was (is!) OTW's primary function, but for that they need their own servers, but they also need a legal environment within which they're not going to be hammered for copyright infringement or obscenity. Thus the advocacy work - which has been brought to the fore by fandom outsiders (Scalzi etc.) who are not in a position to comprehend the complex natures of where and how fanworks are archived. Advocacy is not really the core goal of the OTW - but it needs to be done to lay the foundations for the archive, to create a secure and safe environment for fanworks as possible. ")
  • comment by ggreenapple ("[you said:] I don't feel the need for fandom to have external, societal, respect. [and from nutkin:] I also wouldn't randomly bring up to strangers. Not to strangers, perhaps, but what about friends and family? Writing is a part of my life, and when I share myself with the people I love, I want to share it all, you know? And not be looked at like I just admitted that I rape babies.")
  • comment by nutkin ("I used to write stories far more boundary-pushing than I do right now, and they were discovered by my family several years ago with much horror all around -- but at the same time I'm not sure that's ever going to change. Even if I had a place then to direct people, rife with academic papers defending my right to write those things, I'm sure the reaction would have been, "Oh, so the perverts are organized. Concepts like "depictions of minors having sex are bad" are, IMO, way too ingrained in our society for the fannish movement to tackle with any amount of success. ")
  • comment by angstslashhope ("I always like the "by fans for fans" more than the random corporate like ff.net or lj, who are at liberty to toss us at any point. Why I'm more excited about OTW than Journalfen, though, is because I agree with those arguments of "people have tried this before and failed" - because OTW is setting itself up to *not* be run by a couple of people (with or without their own servers) - with the possibility of disappearing when those people run out of money/get bored/leave fandom/die. Internally, the OTW is set up to have a flow of fans move through it an animate it as time goes on, so that it's never reliant on those few "in control". Foremost, the organisational structure is "in control", and then the fans that are at any point moving through it or just using its services. Which is why I wanted to get involved ;)"
  • comment by apetslife ("For me--because I am a SELFISH SELFISH PERSON, heh--the most interesting part about it is the archive. I'm very curious and cautiously hopeful about it, because I hate more than anything when archives disappear because the maintainer has changed fandoms or run out of money, or stories vanish because of some C&D order or threat or other, and they were my FAVORITES, and now they're not there anymore. It's kind of like when a favorite book goes out of print, except there are no used bookstores to peruse on a hunt. I'm not ashamed of my hobby, but it's a very, sort of, for-fun thing...it's helped me improve my writing a whole heck of a lot, and it's gotten me some of the best friends I've ever had in my life, and I know that more and more 'fanwriters' are going pro (which might be leading to the gradual mainstreaming of fandom whether it wants to be or not...which means that at least, there will be some kind of 'legitimate' webpage or something that people can point folks to who are all, "fanfic whut??"). But yes, I'm curious about the archive. I'd love to have a big place to find good fiction, bad fiction, and everything in between, and it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.")
  • comment by stormcloude ("You know, as a non-writer, non-artist I feel very distant from the whole thing. Not exactly disenfranchised, but... it doesn't apply to me, yet I want to be a part of fandom, so where does it leave me? A sheep following the crowd? I don't really like that metaphor. I think that's my main issue with it. It's really all about writers, not necessarily fandom as a whole, you know?")
  • comment by nutkin ("That's a really good point. There's a whole side of fandom that's not about creative works, but more about discussion and exploration of what's already there or what's being done by other fans.")
  • comment by amothea ("I think OTW has important implications for authors who write fan fiction that's pushing boundaries, for example you don't write underage Sam/John or Dean/John fics so while yes your characters and pairing that you mainly write is slash and incestuous it doesn't offend and confuse "mainstream" people. For me I see OTW as an added protection for me and other authors and artists that are kind of out there in what we write. After this whole LJ debacle where a fan artist was banned because of her artwork I have no faith in corporations letting fandom play in their playgrounds. We basically need a fannish playground where we the fans understand the rules and have someone willing to advocate for us when some group like "Warrior's for Innocence" come after a fan. At least that's how I see it and it's one of the main reasons I've bought an account at Journalfen.net and am trying to convince more users from LJ to leave. However, it's like being queer in a way, if you're straight you never really have to worry about the government coming after you or people harassing you for being straight. So why change things or rock the boat? To me I feel all fannish works need some level of protection as long as the stories are fictional and the artwork is art. And as long as fandom is hosted on LJ and dreamhost and other non-fannish spaces we are at the mercy of advertisers and what the host's rules are, which can change arbitrarily. On another note, I'm very interested in seeing where they go with this archive they are building.")
  • comment by nutkin ("...I'll be really interested to see what OTW's policies are about underage stories. Because that's the kind of thing outsiders will zero in on and exploit as evidence that fanfiction is damaging and its writers should be ostracized, and I'm not sure that's the fight OTW is looking for. As of right now, the FAQ's information about archive restrictions is, "Our legal team and our content team are now working on drafting those policies." That sounds kind of dubious to me. One of the reasons I'm so reluctant to concede that point is because I've met so many people within fandom who didn't understand underage or noncon at all. Even in a fandom as incest-friendly as Supernatural, John/Dean is quite obviously a niche pairing and I've encountered rampant negativity and horror towards it from people who like Sam/Dean. Fans who like underage or noncon are very much a minority compared to fans who like consensual adult pairings—and it's those consensual adult pairings that most people would be willing to defend with their good name. I could be totally wrong about OTW's attitudes, of course. Anything is possible, and I don't claim to be an expert. But again, this is the stuff that gives me pause.")
  • comment by sockkpuppett ("I like keeping all of the fannish things I do in the fannish sphere, but sometimes it gets out, sometimes it goes viral, and I don't want to be sued out of everything I own if/when that happens. Hence, my support of OTW. :)")
  • comment by winterlive: ("only wrt fanfic. i'm not really vocal in my support of the OTW, but i sure don't mind what they're trying to do, if only because i think that my hobby is harmless fun that's not serious business in any way. i think it'd be fuckin RIDONKULOUS to get sued for it. but people have been issued C&Ds. people have been threatened legally over what amounts to silly funtiems. and so roll on, OTW. get down with your bad selves. dumb lawyers. let us have our fun! who's it hurting! leave us be.")
  • comment by nutkin ("I tend to agree, but drawing attention to fandom while outlining a plan to legally defend its interests might bring more misery to our doorstep than not doing anything at all. I mean, I don't want to get sued, either, but to my knowledge no one ever has been. Even when Anne Rice smacked down ff.net and went all crazycakes about people not writing fic for her stuff, no one was dragged into court. I dig it as a preventative measure, I just fear that the organized front OTW is putting forth might read as a challenge.")
  • comment by estrella30 ("I enjoy fandom just fine without the comfort of being able to talk about it at dinner parties like someone else would talk about golf; I see it as an extension of my enjoyment of TV shows/books/etc. that I also wouldn't randomly bring up to strangers. I just. I dont know. I guess I kind of maybe *like* having a hobby or an interest in something that's slightly different that most people. fandom and fanfic and examining shows to the extent that we all do in fandom is, for the most part, not the standard average norm for most people, and I think when you find fandom and people who are like *you* in that regard it's, I dont know. I dont want to sound lame and say *special* but it kind of is. and just. I dont know. making it all big and known and corporate feeling and trying to get it *legimitized* kind of takes the fun out of it for me I guess. I dont WANT everyone to know and understand it. then it wont be *my* thing with people who just inherently "get it" like I do, you know? if that makes sense.")