This Week in Fandom, Volume 40

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening. Before we start, did you know that International Fanworks Day is next week? There are all kinds of activities going on, including fandom-themed online games and a feedback fest. Plus, we recently posted some of your mini essays on what fanworks mean to you. Go check them out! (And please note that, due to this event, there will be no This Week in Fandom next week.)

On a similar note, Den of Geek is asking for your stories about how fandom changed your life for the better. They plan to compile them into an uplifting post on their site soon. Even if you’re not feeling up to sharing your own story, the stories already shared in the comments are heartwarming and worth a read.


This Week in Fandom Banner by James Baxter

This Week in Fandom, Volume 39

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening!

Remember Axanar, the Star Trek fan film that we talked about last year? Well, it’s back in the news this week since the lawsuit between the film’s production company and CBS/Paramount has been settled. As reported by Canadian Lawyer magazine, the lawsuit was going to go to a jury “to ultimately decide whether there is ‘subjective’ substantial similarity” between Axanar and the Star Trek property, in addition to the “objective substantial similarity” agreed upon by the court, which was unconvinced by a Fair Use defense. But, as SlashGear (not that kind of slash) reports, a settlement has been reached whereby Axanar may still be produced. The fan film will go ahead with significant changes in order to comply with CBS and Paramount’s “fan film guidelines” for the Star Trek franchise. This means that, among other things, Axanar will go from being a feature-length film to being two installments of no more than 15 minutes each. Details are still being finalized, but it looks like fans will still be able to see (this version of) the Four Years War.


OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Smitha Milli

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Smitha Milli is a 4th-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley whose research interests lie in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. Today, Smitha talks about her research using natural language processing to reveal patterns in fanfiction texts, the results of which is available online.

How did you come to work with fanfiction in your research?

At the time I started this project my main research focus was in natural language processing (NLP). Natural language processing is a subfield of artificial intelligence that is concerned with creating algorithms to process and understand language. If you’ve ever used Google Translate or Siri, you’ve used products that depend on NLP research!

In addition to having many commercial applications, NLP can also be used as a tool to explore literature. People have automatically tracked dynamic relationships between characters, created computational models of literary character, and analyzed the change in emotional content over the course of a story. However, a bottleneck to improving algorithms in the literary domain was the lack of a large-scale dataset of modern literature. I originally started looking into fanfiction as a source for this kind of data. As I looked further, I found that the structure of fanfiction also made it possible to define interesting, new problems for NLP and I became interested in computationally analyzing social science questions about fanfiction.