OTW Fannews: Fandom and Technology

  • Entertainment reporter Ken Baker has written a novel about a pop star dating a fan but in a twist it’s the star who stalks the fan. His inspiration was the intimacy provided by social networking in contemporary fandom. “Fans know so much about
    their idols. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t seem to have spoiled
    the fantasy or dampened their fanaticism. If anything, it seems to only
    fan the flames of their passion for the celebs. As they say, information
    is power, and I think fans feel empowered to know so much and become that much more interested in their favorite stars.”
  • Hypebot provides a different take on music fandom, but one which also looks at the role of technology. Several public relations specialists weigh in on how music fandom currently functions. “The older online music communities were ecosystems dedicated to either genres or geographic locations…Now that communities are forming around artists and personal tastes, these older characteristics of ecosystems are evolving, but some are stagnated based on the fact that complementary activities need to take place away from the community for it to evolve.” One concern? Over-reliance on a particular online platform. Another is how much the artist can offer. “The artists that have thriving fan communities are generally a result of their cult of personality, not their art. Most don’t have artistic output rate high enough to maintain engagement by the community, hence the need to be…more than the sum of their art.”
  • Tor.com recently proclaimed Babylon 5 set the bar for fandom in the 21st century. “[W]ay back at the end of the last century, one of the first sci-fi fandoms did have the internet, complete with online spoilers! That fandom was centered around Babylon 5, and though we don’t talk much about Babylon 5 now, the narrative structure of the show, in tandem with internet discussion, essentially created the model for TV fandom today.” Technology played an important role: “Babylon 5 was also one of the first TV shows to market itself through grassroots internet outreach, assuming (correctly) that science fiction fans were hanging out online. This was back in the days of Genie and Usenet, but a lot early internet jargon found its footing here. For example, those who didn’t post on the forums were called “lurkers” and at one point, [Babylon 5 creator] JMS, left the forums for a time because of too much “flaming.” He triumphantly returned, of course, after a basic moderation system was sussed out. At the time, all of this stuff was brand new.”
  • Speaking of fannish history, the MediaWest Con blog hosted a piece on fanzine archives citing several collections including “The University of Iowa Special Collections (aka the Fanzine Archives). This is the largest media fan collection currently in place. They have jointly partnered with the Organization For Transformative Works…which helps fans donate zines, flyers, convention program guides, fanvids, audio and video recordings etc. The OTW has an active outreach program called Open Doors with a volunteer assigned to facilitate donations. The University may be able to help pay for shipping. They can also handle large collections and, if needed, may be able to help arrange for someone to box and ship the zines.”

If you’re a music fan, a Babylon 5 fan, or have been a fanzine contributor, why not write about it in Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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