If They're Called Web Pages, Shouldn't They Be Collected Into Zines?

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Title: If They're Called Web Pages, Shouldn't They Be Collected Into Zines?
Creator: Lyrastar
Date(s): July 2007
Medium: print, CD
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: slash, K/S, Zine Fandom, Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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If They're Called Web Pages, Shouldn't They Be Collected Into Zines? is a part of a three-part series by Lyrastar called "The Legacy of K/S on the Internet. It was published in Legacy #2.

"The Legacy of K/S on the Internet"

About

The author examines the history of K/S as an underground fandom, and how the distribution of K/S through the internet changed its availability and audience.

Some subjects discussed:

Excerpts

Regardless of the location there is no guarantee as to the permanence of any Internet site. Some K/S fans offer periodically updated lists of links, and volunteer projects like The Open Directory Project have endeavored to keep up with the flux, cataloging uniform resource locator addresses (urls) periodically, but unless it is on hard copy on a bookshelf/in a box/at the back of a closet, can your K/S ever be really secure?
When your humble Internet associate editor first came online, she asked her father to explain the World Wide Web. Said he, it was like a global Yellow Pages with addresses and information on just about anything a person could conceive of...but all in random order and with no index. Similarly, the earliest K/S postings online were in theory available to millions, but accessible only to the handful who knew exactly where to go to find them. Prior to 1998, when news servers were almost the only source of K/S fiction publicly offered over the Internet, ordinarily the stories would be available to subscribers and drop-in readers for a few weeks, then disappear. To preserve them, files of the texts had to be manually uploaded to prearranged server space. Alara R. served as archivist for alt.startrek.creative (ASC) and derivative Usenet groups from 1995 to 1998, separately copying, sending and saving each story posted to a server computer. Server space was not free, but was “borrowed” or donated back then. In 1996-1997 when the K/S posting wave took off, it had been “borrowed” from the computer science department of Radford University. K/S on the Radford University computer system—that’s a pretty big change from being hidden in the back of a closet. It was still far from a perfect answer. Aside from being both cumbersome for both the archivist who had to collect stories (and many were posted in multiple chapters separated by days or weeks) and writers who had to depend on others to keep their work accessible, it was also of little use to readers who did not follow the newsgroup announcements regularly. Although the stories were kept on the server computer in a directory that was accessible to anyone, the storage location was not tied into the Web, and therefore could not be located with search engines. Another problem with working off borrowed computers is that sometimes you have to give them back. The newsgroup story archive moved a number of times over the first four years, frustrating readers who had missed an announcement of where to find it currently, and also occasionally losing some stories in the transfer. Still, over the fifteen year history, the preservation of stories by a number of volunteers is impressive and is better than personal author pages which come and go with an individual’s time interest and abilities. At first, the archive was essentially a file dump, without shape or form, and interested readers had to sift through the mass of TNG and Klingon sex stories to find K/S. But mid-1996, Matt S. fixed part of that, creating an index to the stories—separating them into series and categories including K/S—labeling them all with title, author and summary. And the K/Sers looked in upon the change and saw that it was good.
But as more and more people came online and more and more fiction was posted, the chaos grew as well. The amount of chatter, as well as spam, on the newsgroups increased dramatically, and the volunteers uploading stories fell further behind, creating frustration all around. In 1996, Better Living through Trek Smut (BLTS) began as a stories-only mailing list for the ASC stories as well as others submitted to the list owner directly for distribution. The use of normal e-mail bypassed most of the hassles for those who had found the group but had problems with the Usenet system, but was only helpful to people who knew to subscribe, and it still did not provide access to anything posted in the past.

In another attempt to make the stories more accessible, in 1996, R’Rain started the Star Trek Slash Archive including a K/S section of stories found on the ASC groups and BLTS. Although it lasted only three years, it was tied into the Web and easy to click and access, the first effort at making a multi-author K/S collection available to the casual Internet surfer who wasn’t already “in the know.”

And the number of Internet surfers was growing rapidly. According to Internet World Statistics, from the end of 1995—when the first K/S appeared—the number of users approximately doubled every year for four years, beginning at 16 million and ending at 247 million at the end of 1999. With this massive influx came fiction in other fandoms, with fans outside of Star Trek both testing the waters of slash tolerance and finding it adequate, as well as working independently to find a good system of distribution.