This Week in Fandom

This Week in Fandom, Volume 46

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening. Before we get started, what do you think of Harry Styles’ new single, Sign of the Times? Do any of these reactions seem fitting?

There has been upset in fandom recently over changes at Livejournal. As io9 reports, Livejournal’s servers have been moved to Russia–where the company is located–and therefore a new User Agreement has been devised that states that site content is now subject to Russian laws. According to the io9 article, this means that the site has “officially banned “political solicitation”— which can mean anything that criticizes the Russian government, as well as pro-LGBTQ discussions.” Privacy may also be an issue: “Critics have claimed the user agreement puts users at risk of having their data accessible to Russian intelligence, in accordance with anti-terrorism legislation.”

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“Educational and creative purposes?” or “Hacking and other threats?”

The OTW has been told that laptops in the UK distributed to lower income people by Comet through the Home Access scheme come with site-blocking software that adult users can’t turn off. Categories of blocked sites include: “Social Networking, Drug/Violant natured [sic] and Adult content websites”: in practice, this means no LiveJournal, Facebook, Twitter, or (you can still get to the AO3 though!); sites like the EFF (blocked as “hacking and other threats”) as well as many feminist and GLBTQ sites (“adult”) are also blocked.

Ironically, the UK government’s own Digital Inclusion report recommends public initiatives to encourage the use of social networking software among the poor and disadvantaged, including elderly and disabled persons. Home Access laptops are supposed to be used for educational and creative purposes: a knee-jerk ban on social networking ignores the degree to which these sites can keep isolated individuals–stay at home moms, the elderly and disabled–connected and informed. These sites are also important for political activism, coalition-building, and creativity.

Home Access should investigate the practices of distributors like Comet, who are getting government money and distributing a broken product. “Net nanny” software should be customizable by adult users, but moreover, the “threat” of social networking, open source, gender and sexuality, and fanfiction sites should be re-evaluated. Giving the public access to the internet should mean giving the public access to the internet without discriminating against or patronizing users.

Vidder Documentaries

Fans of vidding might be interested in the short documentaries about individual vidders being made over at the Vid Commentary LiveJournal community. The first of these, a profile of vidder kiki_miserychic is now available either as an embed or as a download.

The entire Vid Commentary community is devoted to encouraging fans to write or record commentary/analysis on vids they didn’t make. Vidding fans should go, read, and try sharing their own analyses of these complex and layered fanworks!