Lysator

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Mailing List
Name: Lysator
Date(s): 1992-?
Moderated:
Founder(s): Calle Dybedahl
Type:
Fandom: Blake's 7
URL: at hermit.org
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"Lysator: Was originally LYSATOR, an acronym for "Linköpings Y-Sektions dATOR-förening" (which roughly translates as "The computer club for students of technical physics at Linköping"), but since 1980 or so it's officially just a name. The full name is Lysator Academic Computer Society. It was founded in 1973, in order to receive a donation of a Datasaab D21 mainframe computer. It was one of the first Internet-connected sites in Sweden, and its website is the oldest in the country." [1]

The first Blake's 7 mailing list was called Lysator and was named after this site.[2] Known as the Lyst, it went online in November 1992.

Membership reached 110 by late Nov 1992 and by the summer of 1997 it was over 300.

In May 1993, the list hosted its first Lysator Room Party at Mediawest.

From the FAQ:
"Anything even tangentially linked to Blake's 7 is fair game. We discuss the series, things related to the series, and sometimes things completely unrelated to the series. If you're new to Blake's 7, you might find some of the discussions a bit too involved at first. B7 has been a round a long time and so have some of the people on the list. That is to say, they've been talking about B7 for a long time and they've given a lot of thought to profound issues like where Dayna was hiding that wind-up toy in "City at the Edge of the World" and whether Avon had a difficult childhood or was just born ornery. So their posts can be a bit much at first. Fortunately, there are also a lot of people new to the series, too, and they're in the enviable position of seeing it all with fresh eyes and maybe coming up with some fresh twists."[3]
See also Kathryn Andersen's Guide to Lyst Culture archived here. The list was intended from the start to be a public discussion list, on par with Usenet:
"It does bear remarking that this is a public list with an open subscriber roll. I've noticed that people can get lulled into a sense of having a private conversation -- even on USENET newsgroups sometimes -- when in fact hundreds of people may be listening in all innocence (thousands in the case of USENET). (Didn't Calle post at one point with mlist statistics, and the overall subscriber count was in the 300s?)"[4]

How to Pronounce It, And Where It Was Originally Housed

Lysator is pronounced Lee-sah-tor not Lie-say-tor.

See more at The Q-House.

The Q-House

Archived and Publicly Available

The mailing list is also somewhat unusual in that it has publicly archived all list emails and made these archives accessible to the public over the past 20 years. They have even, at times, provided a search engine to sift through the messages:
"To access the back files and material on Lysator read the web pages at Lysator. or by FTP from ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/blake7

Is there an archive file I can dig through? Oh yes, there is. ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/blake7/digests holds everything from 11 September 1995 up until nearly now (it usually lags about a day behind getting copied to the FTP disk). ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/blake7/archive holds nearly everything before September 1995, with a gap in August and September '95.

There is a full search engine at : archive page."[5]

Archives from 1993 to 2000 are archived here. A small quantity of messages (appropriately 200) from 1993 have been archived here. Additional years are archived here.

A Group Lyst Project

One of the list's initial projects was The Great B7 Transcript Project where list members transcribed the episodes.

Some Content at Adrenaline and Soma Powered Blake's 7 Pages

Slash

In the early years, the Lyst hosted a debate about the pros and cons of slash so regularly that Susan Beth collated The Generic Slash Defense Letter, a collection of quotes from fans. The Slash Summary represents the opposing side of the debate, collated by Kathryn Andersen. Both authors intended their texts to avoid the repetition of arguments on the list or as Kathryn puts it: "a list of dead horses, so to speak, done in a non-inflammatory manner".

In 1995, Space City, a slash mailing list was spun off to allow discussion of slash and adult topics without controversy.

In 1998, a fan proposed a story challenge: "Hey, this story has everything for a tragic love story. Who wants to write it? Please post it to the list in time for a "broken hearts" Valentines Day gazette here," and another fan answered: "What, you mean here, or on the Naughty List?" [6] The original fan responded: "Yeah here, why not? The best love stories do not get mired in sex. The best love stories focus on tragic love or unrequited love. And since there are no happy endings in Blakes 7, tragic love stories should flourish on this list. (The racy ones can go on Space City)" [7]

1995/1996 Changes

In late 1995 and 1996, there were changes in both tone and content on Lysator; slash was no longer much of a topic, nor was fanfiction and zines.

This was due to two reasons.

The first is that much of the discussion about slash migrated to Space City. A fan in January 1996 wrote in response to the question "where did all the slash fans go?":
Actually, quite a few of us are still here. We simply divide our discussions between two different lists. If I want to discuss something that is primarily concerned with character relationships, especially with a slash angle, then I'll put it on Space City. If I want to post explicit fiction, then I will definitely do it on Space City. Some things I feel are appropriate to both lists (which is why you'll sometimes see a posting of mine that says 'duplicate from Space City' - saves people reading it right through twice)... The split seems to work pretty well. Space City is relaxed and happy with a mixed bag of readers (not all slash readers and not all female). This list is much happier than it used to be, because arguments about slash don't erupt any longer. When the split originally occurred, I wondered if it would work, but it does. It took a while for Lysator to pick up mail volume again as some people ended up on just one list, and some people while on both lists, didn't have time to post to both. [8]
On Lysator in 1998, a fan explained slash and the Space City list to another fan:
There are a good many people in fandom who strongly dislike any kind of erotic fan fiction, and especially slash. There used to be fights about it on this list about every six months or so, as you see if you read the archives (I recommend them to your attention anyway-- there was lots of good stuff on this list back in the old days). Since 1995 there has been another list, the Space City list, where people who would like to talk about slash and related topics can do so in peace. [9]
SC isn't moderated. If anything, it seems less self-moderated than Lysator to me. People do still complain that Lysator is "meant" to allow non-explicit slash as well, but in practice everything slash-related tends to go to SC, just to be safe (and to avoid flame wars). Everything explicit - slash or het - should go to SC - hence the age declaration [10]

It's true that having everyone at Lysator made for a lot of conflict due to genre interest and "morals," but it meant for lively conversation. Now all that conversation was at Space City. The conversations at Space City were perhaps somewhat less lively because there weren't as many differing opinions regarding Blake's 7. In some ways, this Balkaniztion is a precursor to LiveJournal and other online journals.

There was also a very noticeable drop in discussion about zines and fanfiction. This was due to the fact that zine reviews were now mostly posted to hermit.org, Judith Proctor's newly-formed website. This switch in venue from Lysator to a private website meant that the back-and-forth comments about fanfiction no longer had an anchor on Lysator. Hermit.org was a more easily accessible anchor, but it was one that did not foster spontaneous chat. Despite the additional option and service of hermit.org, the culture of fiction discussion drifted away.

Also see Balkanization.

References

  1. Lysator, at Judith Proctor's Hermit Site
  2. Lysator.
  3. FAQ.
  4. Subject: Lurkers post by Micky D. on Lysator dated April 5, 1994.
  5. FAQ.
  6. Lysator, Pat P and Penny Dreadful, 1998
  7. Lysator, Pat P, 1998
  8. Lysator, Judith P., January 1996
  9. Lysator, 1998
  10. Lysator, 1998