OTW Fannews: Remembering the past

Banner by Bremo of a timeline showing different fannish platforms starting with Geocities and ending with AO3

  • At The Atlantic, Courtney Klauser discussed her education in social networks thanks to fandom. “Looking back, I most miss the personal anonymity; an online existence without photography or video, a time when it was normal not to use your real name, when people could interact without demographic data being harvested for advertisers or shuffling people into neat demographic categories in the name of improved user experience…Yet the online world where I first encountered the pleasures of fan culture no longer exists at all.”
  • Corinne Duyvis wrote at YA Highway about lessons learned while roleplaying. “My absolute biggest hobby as a teenager was online X-Men roleplaying…Roleplaying wasn’t fanfiction like most people know it, but it’s probably the most apt comparison—and that’s why it baffles me when people dismiss fandom as a waste of time for writers, or even call it actively damaging. It’s often the exact opposite. Without fandom, I wouldn’t be writing today. I wouldn’t have a shiny hardcover on shelves as of this month.”
  • Author Peter David re-posted a poem about fandom he’d published in 2001 about the spread of fandom online. “And the Grynch straight away fashioned ‘Fandom Dot Com/ By fans and for fans,’ said the Grynch with aplomb/ The fans, they just loved it, they flocked by the ton/ And they told all their friends, and they came on the run/ Created new websites and posted the things/ On Star Wars, Godzilla, and Lord of the Rings/ The theory, you see, was by acting as one/ The fans would not ever be put on the run/ By studio lawyers with frozen-fish faces/ Subpoenas and letters and leather briefcases.”
  • Elizabeth Minkel wrote in New Statesman about changing times. “It might be easy to forget that a little more than a decade ago, Warner Brothers was yanking down Harry Potter fan sites without warning, particularly those that ‘sent the wrong message’, like speculating that a character could be gay. Now media corporations are actively trying to create the kind of spaces for fan engagement that mimic the volume and enthusiasm of what’s historically been built from the bottom-up – organic celebrations of (and critical space to examine) a book or movie or television show or band. Now we’ve got ‘official fan fiction partners’ of a book or a movie, and even corporate-sponsored incentive – rewards, like access to special content, that sort of thing – to create more content in their spaces.”

What parts of fandom history do you remember? Write about it on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.