OTW Signal, May 2024

Every month in OTW Signal we’ll take a look at stories that connect to the OTW’s mission and projects, including legal, technology, academic, fannish history, and preservation issues that are important for fandom, fan culture or transformative works.

In the News

The academic journalism site The Conversation published a series of articles related to fandom. One of them focused on the fanfiction to commercial fiction pipeline.

The website Archive of Our Own, on which Manacled was originally published, is run and maintained by fan volunteers and donations from many such communities. The amateur, nonprofit and community-based nature of fan fiction had made fandom into what scholars of fandom such as Karen Hellekson call a gift economy.

In this culture, fans create and share their works without expecting pay – the stories are a gift to the community and a part of participating in communal life. The fandom gift economy creates an alternative space where monetary value is replaced by the value of social connection and interaction, and for the most popular writers, of high status within the community.

AO3 was founded primarily to preserve a non-commercial location for fanworks. You can find out more about its history, as well as about the gift economy and filing off the serial numbers on Fanlore.


Another article discussed how fans influence brands and how fandom shaped the development of the Internet.

In cases where existing platforms haven’t met the community’s needs, fans have created their own. Archive Of Our Own (AO3) is a repository for fans to share works inspired by the objects of their fandom, created in response to design and policy changes made on other fan-fiction sites.

Fans are known for their creative productivity, transforming and remixing their favourite cultural objects in fan-art, fan-fiction, videos, zines and music remixes.
Technological advancements made creative production easier to master, and the public and networked nature of platforms has allowed fan works to be circulated to a much wider audience.

The OTW’s own fan studies journal, Transformative Works and Cultures, has also contributed to the work on the internet, fandom, and historical developments, both in individual articles and published a special issue on History and Fandom.


OTW Tips

Many fans became more aware this year of the various platforms where the OTW and its projects share news with fans. Visitors to the Where to Find Us page on our website, however, may be overlooking one of the handiest options to find recent or past news.

Our Pinboard account makes scrolling through our news chronologically or by tag much easier than doing so on our website. It is also searchable by keyword, making it easier to locate the particular news story you’re trying to find. What’s more, it’s the only option if you are trying to find all the OTW and project news in one place. The account is updated regularly with our latest posts so give it a try!

We want your suggestions for the next OTW Signal post! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or news story you think we should know about, send us a link. We are looking for content in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in an OTW post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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