The Amazing Speed of the NET!

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Title: The Amazing Speed of the NET! ('Netspeed)
Creator: Sandy Herrold
Date(s): 1998
Medium: online
External Links: The Amazing Speed of the NET!; Wayback link
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The Amazing Speed of the NET! is a 1998 essay by Sandy Herrold.

Posted originally at Confessions of a Fannish Butterfly, it is used here on Fanlore with Sandy's permission.

Topics Discussed

  • fanon
  • online fandom, the internet, and its speed of communication

The Essay

I've been thinking of fan canon (or fanon) recently. One of my all-time favorite panels was at Escapade, gee, 6 years ago now...

The moderators of the panel had spent some time coming up with a list of characteristics, and for each one, we had to decide whether they were show based or fanfic based. Some of them were easy, some were hard, and a lot of them sparked off their own conversations about which story we'd seen the idea in first, and why it was such a good idea that it was picked up by so many other writers, etc.

But, back then, it took years for new ideas to become fan canon -- i.e., to show up in so many stories that new fans could mistake them for 'real' canon.

Now... sheesh, I think it takes a couple of weeks. Now don't misunderstand me. I am NOT saying that net authors copy ideas any more than print writers did. It's just that now..., you wrote it today, posted it tonight, I read it tomorrow, thought one line really caught the character (or, I haven't watched all the episodes, and thought your line really described a show-based characteristic), and stuck it into my story (often without even noticing), which I publish to the net tomorrow or Wednesday, and by the end of the week it is everywhere!

Everytime I think I have grokked the power of the net, I realize how far behind I am.

With new (i.e., net) Pros fic, I haven't really noticed any change; there is already so much established for those characters, so much old fic for people to read, I don't think much is changing.

But in the newer shows... Geez, the week I first saw a Kronos-rapes-Methos-in-the-Bronze-age story, I also saw four more, and then still more the week after.

And Sentinel! The amount of repetition of very specific domestic behavior between the two guys (too small a water tank, etc., etc.) would lead anyone to think it must be from an ep. In fact, I think people who find Sentinel fic first, and then find the show are likely to be amazed at how slashy the show isn't compared the way it is written in fic over and over and over.

And HL and XF have it even worse than the others, in that a lot of the writers feel like they've done all the research necessary if they've watched the eps that their guy (Methos, Krycek or Skinner -- i.e., the surly pectoral god) was on -- 10 or 15 eps at most. I think those writers are more likely than others to assume that cool things in other people's stories are actual canon from the 80+ episodes that they've never seen.

I'm not even peeving about this -- I don't think (most) fan writers do this intentionally at all, and I think it's always been part of fan writing. In fact, I'll go out on a small limb and say that this sort of fan borrowing/extending/transmuting is frequently a good thing -- a cool way of referencing the shared universe of fandom.

But it's just so fast now!