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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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livejournals and mailing lists, take one
bored
seperis
I--had some time to kill this afternoon. Don't laugh too hard. I will be the first to admit that most of this is speculative.

For the purposes of this entry, blog, diaryland, deadjournal, blurty, etc are going to be mishmashed or discarded. I participate most actively in LJ, so my focus has to be there to be accurate. Observations are specific to me and I'm perfectly willing to admit my view is biased toward the SV fandom and to the fact that it's my main source of fandom participation at the moment.

Background:

My perceptions are formed since the my most active participation *in* the LJ community began in September/October of 2002. Before that, my main focus was in diaryland, where I still have my diary, though currently inactive, though really, after this week? May need to rethink that. My less active participation but active observation occurred around April/May of 2002, though I'd commented here and there before, and I started reading there with basingstoke, liviapenn, and 3jane after joining the SV fandom in November 2001, around the same time I opened my diaryland account.

So, that's my background. Right, not terribly enlightening, but to clarify where I'm standing.



Those who have been online a while remember when usenet was the focus of fannish activities. As a Trek fannish writer, I started on the private mailing list ParisTorres, moving into the newsgroup alt.startrek.creative and alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated (and its mirror, ASCEML, the egroup list version). This was only about four years ago this July, keep in mind. My second fandom, movieverse, was list-based only.

Usenet was kind of like the ultimate unmoderated wilderness, as I've heard others call it and I've--observed similarities. No moderator, kind of the ultimate in egalitarianism, or, if you're cynical, anarchy at its purest, especially outside the .moderated groups. The term usenet bullies come to mind--domination achieved by sheer force, etc. Victoria P could probably explain this better, since she was ON usenet and in a better variety of groups than I was. ASC had that problem less--too many egos to allow domination by any one, but I played enough on other usenet groups to know that's not always the case. *grins* Writers are like that.

The shift to mailing lists, I understand from talking to people, came for a lot of reasons, but among the attractions was the email in the inbox aspect, the privacy aspect (though I'm unclear on that), the specialization within a given fandom (all ParisTorres! All the time! All ChakotayParis! All ClarkLex! You get the idea.), and the fact that the anarchy was replaced with some kind of authority, from the mildest, where the moderator was about as useful as straw in the breeze, to the ones that make you wonder if they took classes in Fascism 101: How to Use Jackboots on People's Necks to the Greatest Effect. The moderator can and could stop flamewars, OT threads, etc in their tracks, big plus. Limited control--with a good moderator, ideally, the list was a haven of good fiction/discussion/etc, trolls banished, OT threads destroyed, wine flowed like water down the streets and we all ate bread and honey from heaven. But drawbacks. This could lead, of course, to other forms of random fandom government, including the ever popular I Am Moderator And Your God So Worship Me Now, Fannish Swine. There's an essay about that. *g* If you have it? Find it. Seriously, I laughed myself sick.

The domination of the mailing list in fandom gave inordinate power to the moderator/listowner of a list--they could, can, and did delete entire lists without so much as a by your leave to the other members. No, I'm not bitter about that happening in one of my fandoms, why do you ask? That couldn't happen on usenet. Mailing lists condensed power into the hands of the few by their ownership of a popular list. This of course, might or might not have led to the proliferation of lists beyond simple specialization and into plain--to steal a term from Te--Balkinization of fandom. And there's a sort of democracy to it. You don't like the LionelMartha list you're on? Moderator this year's answer to Mussolini? Start your own list. In theory, it could work. In actual fact, huge numbers of lists with four to ten members, inactive as hell. Setting up your own government is a lot trickier than you think.

Okay, raise your hands--who guessed I'm a political science major? Yep.

This is REALLY simplified, so I'm leaving out tons of stuff. To get a really good image of how this worked, Buffy fandom would probably be a prime example, and possibly to a lesser extent, the X-Files fandom, which I'm less familiar with. And I know someone's covered the entirety of the Buffy fandom explosion, so that essay is out there if someone can find it..

Anyway. Moving on.

The rise of blogs, diary, and LJ in terms of fannish activity were about equal at some point, or so I assume--at least, when I got my diary up and running, LJ was yet to be a major influence in fandom. For SV, ClarkLex mailing list was still The Place To Be.

LJ has been coming into its own as the new hub of fannish discussion for a long time--I'm thinking, now that I'm paying serious attention, that it started more with the fannish fic snippets, not discussion--I'm thinking of Livia Penn, Thamiris and Basingstoke here, since they were my first reads in LJ, later adding LaT and others. However, discussion was there, eventually shifting into non-fanfic and into episode, though I cannot honestly say these two things didn't happen simutaneously. And yes, I'm sure someone was doing fannish/episode discussion in LJ back before the rise of mailing lists, but work with me here, I'm talking trends.

I'm not sure of the progression except as it relates personally--I think I was fannishly discussing in my diary as early as 2001, but at that time, the diary/blog/LJ thing wasn't a huge deal, so I doubt anyone was paying attention to me. I will say I was hitting LJ regularly as of May above and beyond the people I knew there, mentioned above. A definite source of all things meta as early as January, if my backtracking is correct, but evenly distributed still among LJ, blog, and diaryland, among other online journaling things. Thamiris has been doing this forever, or so I'm conditioned to think by now--Te was doing it in her blog at strangeplaces. Some people have been doing this far, far longer in other places, but I'm sticking to what I know, so all inaccuracies are the result of my focus.

By September of this year, the shift of fandom into LJ seemed to have become ingrained--I'm guessing the summer hiatus with its superproductivity helped, since dammit, SV was on *speed* for about three months or so in fannish output. More people moved permanently into LJ out of other areas--blogs, diaryland, etc, centralizing a lot of fans in one particular area.

LJ has some spectacular advantages, being a very, very weird hybrid of the personal journal, usenet, and mailinglists--the power structure per Livejournal belongs solely to the owner. The Owner is God. They can write what they want, kill comments, encourage comments, kill threads, and make all worship them, and all without leaving their LJ! Whoo-hoo! Comments can be delivered to your inbox, you are moderator of your world. The freedom of usenet, the power of a mailing list moderator, with the journaling aspects thrown in for good measure. Plus, the friends list. All your reading on one convenient page.

Manna and honey, people. Right from the sky.

However, fans are social creatures--hence the entirety of fandom existing. We don't work well alone. To run our LJ properly, we need an audience--or we want one--or guess what, we get one whether or not the first two are true. Welcome to the web. Being fans, we go looking for our own kind and read. Now we hit the drawbacks.

Usenet was anarchy. LJ comes far closer to resembling usenet in the social aspects than the mailing list structure. The LJ-community structures I'll leave out of this one--those come far closer to being basic non-email mailing lists in some ways.

The individual LJ user rules their own LJ but also contends with God knows how many other fans with their own kingdom of LJness. If you're cynical, you might say we're all competeing for attention. But I'm not that cynical today. There's no outer moderator to say don't do that, can't do that, be nice, you moron, and stay the hell on topic. Trolls are making a comeback with random anonymous and not-so anonymous LJ hit and runs or even long term LJ miniwars. Balkinization, right, but also the rise of more powerful/louder/frequent posters/etc LJers who can and do seem to have a stronger voice in the LJ fannish world. And get people who listen to them. And I am a proud minion of some of those louder voices, let me point this out right now, so it's not like I'm trampling on the concept or anything, but then again? I'm totally the kind of girl who needs someone to stalk. *wave to Te and Koi*

You're seeing the circle we just made, right? We're second generation usenet in some ways.

LJ's also contends with the problems of fragmentation of fandom--while mailing lists united discussion into one convenient place, LJ fragments it outside those few Very Loud Voices and whatever happens to be on your friendslist. I looked at my links for entries for the Fever Episode recaps. I read above fifty, and linked only ten, which were the only ones I could FIND at the time I was doing the entry. That is off my friendslist ONLY. That doesn't include the multitudes I don't read because I don't have the time. This doesn't include the ones I overlooked. Seriously, think about this one. SV fandom is a tiny, miniscule part of the LJ world, but in our corner? There's a LOT of us.

So. We're usenet with privatization of our kingdoms. Trolls are back. We have the added value of fragmentation of fandom discussion. Flame wars are making a serious bid for attention in some circles. Cross-LJ flamewars haven't become popular, but I'm waiting to see one.

And LJ has a memory as good as usenet. Better, sometimes, even with friendslocking, filters, etc, because really. You didn't really think those things worked flawlessly, did you? Eventually, it gets hard to see your fuck-ups in usenet given enough time. But LJ? Oh no. Someone WILL bring them up at some point in the future. Erase them from your LJ and pray if you want, but trust me, someone DID see it, someone WAS reading it, and someone out there will remember it. Someone commented and they have the entire thing saved on their hard drive just for the moment you forgot all about it. *grins* Someone out there will link to it to mock it. So maybe just like usenet.

Fragmentation comes in useful there, though. Unless we get a centralized place to broadcast our fuck-ups for an audience. No, wait. There's one of those already. Huh.

I have left so much out that this doesn't even cover the basics, but I have this hope someone who's been around fandom longer than I have, or notices more than I do (that would be anyone) will get the idea to attack this with actual cold facts and experience. I thought of surveying, but frankly, I can't even think of the right questions to ask to get the right answers, because I'm not sure of the right answers. As a purely social experiment, it's almost incomparable for someone who likes studying web based society.

But. Here's a thought, purely speculative and not backed by anything but me thinking about all of it.

LJ is forcing higher participation by those who might not participate normally in fannish activities.

I can't prove that. Lurkers have been around forever. LJ has them. But at least, from what I've seen, the proportion of lurkers are LESS than one finds on the average mailing list. What's the stats on participation on a mailing list? Anyone? I'd put it at twenty percent when you get past the five hundred mark, but honest to God, my numbers are working off of just watching and other people's comments. And domination by less than five percent, if that. Livia could probably tell us what it is on ClarkLex. LJ land simply isn't set up to do that. It encourages getting your own kingdom and yelling your opinons. The mailing list makes you send your opinion to one thousand or so different users. Usenet, public forum. LJ can keep the fantasy this is just for you.

To comment in some LJ's, you have to have an Lj username. To get to some fics, you need to be friended. Etc etc etc. Does that encourage? Hell yes. Not across the board, no, and not everyone, but I'm wondering now how many people who were professional lurkers have moved into LJ because of that kingdom thing. Those who would have been watchers in usenet and mailing lists finding their voice here.

I wonder how the hell that's something that could be found out, too.

Anyway. Feel free to correct me wherever I'm wrong--seriously, this is basically just thinking out loud and the inaccuracies are probably legion if not downright silly. But you know. My kingdom. I can. *grins*


(Deleted comment)

*snerking* I have nothing to say about Jenn's post, but I adore your icon.

*blink* I think my brain just curled into tiny little ball. *g*

For me, the breaking point wasn't lj. It was the boards. I still mostly lurk on lists (for the wonderful reasons lexluvsclark explained). But I came out of lurking on boards. LJ came in after we (a small group of naughty gals) were thrown off one board by a moderator for discussing naughty things. Reason I love lj? I can post whatever I want without broadcasting it to hundred of people who don't give a damn, as it would've happened on the list. Very few people read my lj and most of them either like what I have to say or stay quiet and mock me where I can't see it. My take is if you don't like it, no one is forcing you to read it. *g* Very simple.

Plus you know, pretty icons.

*laughs*

*agrees with everything*

And I totally FORGOT the joy of icons. The addictive quality of icons. The need for more icons.

Yep. I'm so becoming an icon slut. *g*

*hums*

My perceptions are formed since the my most active participation *in* the LJ community began in September/October of 2002

I could do my wide, shocked eyes thing here, but will settle for small satisfied smile instead.

Hokay.

So, personalising completely, since I'm in no way enough of a veteran to be making statments about fandom as a whole -- I really enjoy the buffet elements of livejournal. I fashion my entire fannish experience by surrounding myself with people whose opinions I enjoy. Every single time I drop a friend, I notice how my daily perspective shifts. Narrows, probably, but hell. It's my hobby, I'm aiming for that zen place.

*g*

This is how I can be utterly unaware of things like, hmm, RPS is the tool of the devil! Or Justin Timberlake Hate. I just don't receive any of those voices. Unless someone actually points me at something in chat, I kind of bop along in my blissful world.

Mailing lists, unfortunately aren't like that. And you know the biggest thing that irritates me about email? Messy headers.

I like to know what I'm clicking on. Also, that *effort* of clicking on an email to open it, making sure the threads are in the right order so I'm not starting at the ass-end of a debate, all that bother. Livejournal serves me up my fandom experience on a silver tray. With a rose tucked into a vase and the crust cut of my toast.

I like the way I can skim back to skip=120 in like, five minutes, and then go and read the stuff I want. I like that I can feedback in public, but not have it sent to the inboxes of 2000 other people. I like being able to read the *other* feedback left for an author, but I hate receiving it in my email. I like the formatting of livejournal, and the way italics actually work! *gasp*

I like having some measure of a person's history and involvement in fandom: there's a lot you can tell from the Full User Info page. I'm not keen on the instant popularity measure that is the friends-of list, but it's the second thing I look at when considering whether to friend someone back.

I *adore* friends locking. In so many, many ways.

And I really enjoy getting a sense of the *person* that no mailing list ever provides. It makes fandom experience *so* much rounder, deeper.

Because, truth be told, a lot of the time, I'm less interested in hearing about Rosetta than I am about Turkey Creek Bridge.

And nothing is ever off-topic, you know? I like being able to post without asking for permission. I like knowing that all the things I say, the smart things, the life things, the bits of fic, are all held together in a single place, as a pretty good representation of me.

A big phat WORD to that.

Plus: Yes I think it encourages participation - it is no random if I chose to get an LJ when Ide cide I wanted to be involved in the HP fandom when I'd been two years in the Buffy fandom without doing more than lurking. And I was actually coming in from an OLJ type person - journal AND fannish, the perfect combination for me. :D

Man, I so love LJ.

I've been using your friends list to follow SV fandom in LJ for several months. Today I finally broke down and not only got my own account but I even wrote something for the 100 word challenge. So, yes I agree that LJ definitely encourages participation by formerly dedicated lurkers.

Whoo hoo! Another convert!

*gets out balloons and hats*

Welcome to LJ! Be sucked in! Watch the obsession with icons take over your life!

Er, yees, I've had a LOT of coffee today. *grins*

I'm wondering now how many people who were professional lurkers have moved into LJ because of that kingdom thing. Those who would have been watchers in usenet and mailing lists finding their voice here.

::waves hand:: I would be one of those people. I've been involved in on-line fandom for about a year and a half, almost two years, now. My primary method of involvement is (or was) mailing lists on which I was basically a lurker. I've had my lj account for a little over a month now and I think I've been three times as active on lj in the last month than I was on all of my lists combined in the last couple of years. (I just checked my user stats - make that ten times as active - 350 posts and comments since I signed up *g*). LJ has encouraged me, at least, to become much more involved. Who knows...at the rate I'm going I might actually try a chat room someday. *g*

I also like lj because it exposes you to so much more than lists, which are, by their very nature, very clannish. You are exposed to much broader scope of interests and fandoms and people in lj than you are in groups devoted to a single subject. I'm exposed to new things that interest me every day and each new thing encourages my participation. LJ can be a bit more unruly than mailing lists (because of the no moderators thing) but it also strikes me as a much more open society and it's more inviting for new people.


I also like lj because it exposes you to so much more than lists, which are, by their very nature, very clannish. You are exposed to much broader scope of interests and fandoms and people in lj than you are in groups devoted to a single subject. I'm exposed to new things that interest me every day and each new thing encourages my participation. LJ can be a bit more unruly than mailing lists (because of the no moderators thing) but it also strikes me as a much more open society and it's more inviting for new people.

Yes and double yes. Oh damn yes.

My friendslist is chock full of the BIGGEST variety of subjects, comments, things....it's amazing. And it makes it so much fun to read--meta, SV, RPS, HP for goodness sake, it's all variety and it does expose the user to more than they'd normally look for on their own, so to speak.

*nodnodnod* Exacatly what you said.

Lurking

(Anonymous)
*Snicker*
I post once upon a blue moon. Of course, the lists I am on are all on digest, so by the time I get to posting, the stuff is usually said.
I have nothing agaist LJs as a medium, except for the following the thread thing that sucks you in.
Oh, and the icons are cool! :)

Thorn

*giggles*

Come to usss. We have iconnsssss.....

*pimping hat on*

Re: Lurking (Anonymous) Expand
Glad to hear you're feeling better!

Thanks for the great post! I agree with everything you've said! One thing I would like to mention, that I didn't see in your great analysis, is that, for me at least, LJ has made my fellow fans, "real", to me.

Not that I didn't think of fans are not being real, but it's very easy to de-personalize someone on a maillist. To dicount what is happening in their lives that might influence a rant they've sent to a maillist about something stupid. With LJ though, if I friend someone I get not only the great fics, but the silly stuff, the day to day grind, the hopes, fears, pros and cons of the LJ user (and I'm going with the assumption that what the person is posting is being honest, though I know there are probably people out their posting stuff that's not in any way shape or form close to being reality). I get to know the person, and while I'd never claim to be the best friend or even the expert on anyone on my friend's list, I am less hesitant about posting a reply to something a fellow fan has posted because of this. (am I the only who feels this way? I don't know but I'm thinking not.)

LJ has also enabled me to converse with certain fic authors I'd never have done more than send a feedback to when I was on a maillist. I read how they have writing blocks, their fears and hopes and goals as writers, and it not only makes the great fic they write that much more worth the read, but it gives me the courage to reply to them and not just in terms of feedback either. I'm not explaining this well, I think. But needless to say, this reply is a perfect example of what I mean and I hope it's not too incoherent.

Anyway, thanks for the post, I agree with you and once more I'm glad to know you're feeling better!


Re: LJ: making it real

LJ has made my fellow fans, "real", to me.

...

LJ has also enabled me to converse with certain fic authors I'd never have done more than send a feedback to when I was on a maillist. I read how they have writing blocks, their fears and hopes and goals as writers, and it not only makes the great fic they write that much more worth the read, but it gives me the courage to reply to them and not just in terms of feedback either. I'm not explaining this well, I think. But needless to say, this reply is a perfect example of what I mean and I hope it's not too incoherent.


Oh wow. I hadn't even thought of that, but it's true. LJ does allow a more personal interaction between fans as people. Wow. *blinks* I completely overlooked it, but that is a really big thing and is part of the attraction.

Really REALLY great post here, seriously so. I need to think about that part.

*hugs*

(Deleted comment)
*giggles*

Lurking in participatory terms, I think. I don't exactly mean becoming SuperSocialLJButterfly, but moving outside of the usual lurker mode, which is almost completely non participatory. Does that make sense?

And thanks! Glad you liked it.

Ahem.
Beyond the prettiness of the icons (big plus) there is the fact that if I'm posting to a LJ of someone I like, more often than not the other people posting will be people I enjoy reading. Its semi-cliquesh in a cozy way, cus' all are welcome to jump in.

Reason I started an account was because of you and Te moved this way, but I'm surprised by how much fun this all is.


*nodnodnod*

I honestly did not like LJ at ALL until I started really playing around in it actively, which is most of the fun.

And yes, the icons? Totally a huge selling point! *grin*

And if I haven't mentioned it before, SO glad you jumped into LJland. The convenience is just SO damn cool.

Outstanding essay! :)

I got online back in the days of usenet. The creative groups were wonderful. Pretty much all the fanfiction was located in one easy to access spot.

The discussion groups were anywhere from good to horrible, depending on the fandom and the moment. I ended up leaving the discussion usenet groups to join mailing lists because I got so sick of seeing posts by some people, (no kill file on my computer then), or seeing some people so totally dominate a group.

Unfortunately, I found lists to be even worse in this respect. They were *much* cliqueier than usenet ever was. If you were in the moderators inner circle great. Otherwise, forget it. I think this is why, with the exception of TWOP, I haven't gotten involved in the SV mailing lists. The SV ones may be great and not cliqueish at all, but my experiences with mailing lists in other fandoms have been bad, so I don't go to them any more to discuss things.

The one thing I would have liked to see added to your essay is more examination of TWOP. It's essentially a mailing list, but it doesn't have the cliqueish feel I've felt with mailing lists in other fandoms. I'm not sure why that is, though.

Unfortunately, I found lists to be even worse in this respect. They were *much* cliqueier than usenet ever was. If you were in the moderators inner circle great. Otherwise, forget it. I think this is why, with the exception of TWOP, I haven't gotten involved in the SV mailing lists. The SV ones may be great and not cliqueish at all, but my experiences with mailing lists in other fandoms have been bad, so I don't go to them any more to discuss things.

*nods* I've been on both kinds and moderated both kinds of lists--the really open, comfortable ones, and the ones where you feel like an outsider unless you know the mod. So yeah, I can totally see your point on that one.

The one thing I would have liked to see added to your essay is more examination of TWOP. It's essentially a mailing list, but it doesn't have the cliqueish feel I've felt with mailing lists in other fandoms. I'm not sure why that is, though.

TWoP is almost unique in some ways. I wish I had the experience to actually get into it, but what I got out of it is only superficial at best when it was at its heyday, which at this point, it doesn't seem to be. Could be wrong there. Hmm. You should do it. You posted there, didn't you, and participated?

*pokes* Come on. Meta and examination is FUN! *nodnodnod* Please? I'd like to see what you got out of it.

just now i posted the official end of my blog to let my lj speak for all of me, and that was before reading this. there's much truth to your theory that lj is delurking the lurkers. creating your persona feels safe here. and, dude, the icons. as always, brilliant, jenn.

there's much truth to your theory that lj is delurking the lurkers. creating your persona feels safe here. and, dude, the icons.

Seriously, the icons are a massive addiction. After awhile, resistance is completely futile.

*hugs Jess* Yay LJ! Dragged in! Kicking and screaming!

*thinks* Were you kicking and screaming or did I imagine that part?

Hmm. Interesting stuff. I can only add a newbie perspective here, and I'm pretty much a newbie in every respect. SV is my first fandom. And, until I got my LJ (right at New Years), I was mostly a lurker. I read voraciously (since a little over a year ago). I finally joined some mailing lists about six months ago (right around when you started doing LJ) and post on occasion, but mostly I lurk.

Here's what I find interesting. I always *wanted* to write, and in fact I did write a couple of things (which will likely never see the light of day! *g*) before LJ. But I didn't have any way of meeting people, really—mailing lists are pretty impersonal unless you're one of the really vocal people, and IRC was dying out by the time I found the "right" place. So I didn't have anyone to look at what I wrote and I sure wasn't going to just put it out there for the thousand people on the mailing list. Yikes.

Enter LiveJournal. As I said, I just got my LJ at New Years, so that's a little over two months of LJ time now. Since then I've written and posted 5 stories, two of which have been archived and sent to mailing lists. Two months, five stories vs. the eleven-ish months, zero stories pre-LJ. There are other things happening, too, that never would have come about without LJ (being involved with starting an Everwood fiction archive springs immediately to mind!).

So what's different about LJ? I think it must be in part the "my own kingdom" thing, because I just feel more comfortable here. My LJ is *my* place to say what I want to say, and maybe a few people will enjoy it. For some reason, I also find it a lot easier to interact with other people on LJ. I'm uncomfortable sending email to people I don't know (it took me a long time to get over that to send people feedback—now I feel bad about all the great stories I read that I never told the author I enjoyed! Um, like you, for instance. Heh). I'm *really* uncomfortable with IMing people I've never chatted with before. But I have no problem with leaving comments on people's posts, so finally I've found a place where I can interact with people with a level of comfort. And it's mostly as a result of the commenting/replying, posting/commenting, etc., that I now have a few people that I'm comfortable enough with that I can ask them to beta a story for me. Or whine to them when a story is giving me trouble. Or...whatever. Basically, I have support now that was completely lacking before. [And let me just pause for a moment to say that this is mostly due to one person, who befriended me instantaneously it seemed, and has become a constant for me. *hugs celli hard*]

And, oops. I just previewed this comment and it's *really* long. Sorry about that. Don't know if I even said anything enlightening. I don't think I have any conclusions for you, just my personal observations and feelings on the subject. Hope it was interesting at least. *grin*


always *wanted* to write, and in fact I did write a couple of things (which will likely never see the light of day! *g*) before LJ. But I didn't have any way of meeting people, really—mailing lists are pretty impersonal unless you're one of the really vocal people, and IRC was dying out by the time I found the "right" place. So I didn't have anyone to look at what I wrote and I sure wasn't going to just put it out there for the thousand people on the mailing list. Yikes.

You know, that part didn't really occur to me, but you're right in that. LJ is also a very safe place to post fic when you're not sure of reception/are new to it. Hmm.

But I have no problem with leaving comments on people's posts, so finally I've found a place where I can interact with people with a level of comfort. And it's mostly as a result of the commenting/replying, posting/commenting, etc., that I now have a few people that I'm comfortable enough with that I can ask them to beta a story for me. Or whine to them when a story is giving me trouble. Or...whatever. Basically, I have support now that was completely lacking before. [And let me just pause for a moment to say that this is mostly due to one person, who befriended me instantaneously it seemed, and has become a constant for me. *hugs celli hard*]

*grins* Vive la LJ. So to speak.

*nod* I agree completely with everything you said. LJ gives the personal without feeling like your'e being--intrusive I guess is the word, though I'm not sure that's right.

Thanks for commenting! Serious food for thought.

Lurking and de-lurking

LJ is forcing higher participation by those who might not participate normally in fannish activities.
I've been interested in fannish activities for <thinks> years, I suppose. But lists are a bit scary and exclusive-looking, so it didn't even occur to me to try to join in. With LJ, I've been able to lurk in an easy, non-committed, anonymous way, start to feel comfortable with knowing who's around, and what the current discussions are, and here I am, de-lurking. I'm not an author of fanfic, but I'm a fan, and a reader of fanfic, and interested in the cultural issues around online communities, and, here on LJ, I feel able to wander over and join the party, in a way I wouldn't have felt comfortable on any of the previous homes of the fannish community. Hooray for LJ!

Re: Lurking and de-lurking

*hee* Perfect expression of LJness. IT does lack the percieved feeling of exclusivity in mailing lists.

Thanks for commenting!

I'm not sure "forcing" is the right word here. I feel more encouraged, rather than forced to participate in fannish activities. (Reading on.) Ah. I see. You're using the word in the term of " if you want to see this, do this, then you have to join lj." Right?

But yeah, this is true for me. LJ has revitalized my fannish interest and activities. No, I haven't actually written any fanfic for a very long time ( or any other kind of fic, for that matter) but I am more interested and have read more than I have in a very long time. Especially in SV.


I'm not sure "forcing" is the right word here. I feel more encouraged, rather than forced to participate in fannish activities. (Reading on.) Ah. I see. You're using the word in the term of " if you want to see this, do this, then you have to join lj." Right?

Yes, exactly.

Force isn't quite teh right word, but it's more than encourage. To do some things, to get to some things, read some things, etc. heck, in some LJs just to comment, you have to have the LJ ID. Which in some ways does 'make' people who wouldn't normally be very participatory to participate more actively.

That still sounds off. Hmm. I'll have to think of a way to clarify it further.

But yeah, this is true for me. LJ has revitalized my fannish interest and activities. No, I haven't actually written any fanfic for a very long time ( or any other kind of fic, for that matter) but I am more interested and have read more than I have in a very long time. Especially in SV.

*nod* It does allow for an ease into fandom, I think.

Hmm. I'm not going to POKE you for fic or anything....

*pokes and runs away*

Or you know, I might....

*g*

(Deleted comment)

Re: Very interesting!

One thing that struck me as I was reading -- I wonder to what degree the "birthplace" (and birthtime) of various fandoms influences where their strength lies? That's probably better answered by people who've been in a fandom since usenet days, and are *still* in that fandom.

Oddly, that's the one area I would have loved to cover seriously but I don't have the experience or knowledge.

Continuing after this.

OTL (Outside the Lines) was the list that grew out of a now-defunct usenet group for comics fic, but because it was on Topica, not Yahoo groups, certainly it took me a while to find it (and I think others, too), and because it was "multi-fandom" I think it also interested some "pure" X-fans less. In any case, they'd also developed a community on Subreality (a board) in addition to the mailing list, and that was where most fannish discussion occurred.

You mentioned the X-Files fandom as one of the ones that started usenet and may have dominantly stayed in usenet despite the rise of mailing lists.

Trek, in the alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated had, in retrospect, a really unique transition. The usenet group itself passed through a couple of forms before it became ASCEM, but then, interestingly, was mirrored onto a mailing list at some point (before I joined Trek, but I have no idea how early), named ASCEM(L). Within a year of my joining, it reversed--the newsgroup became the mirror for the list, not the other way around, allowing a more mailing list atmosphere--chatty, etc--than the newsgroup had been. And also seemed--to me, I don't have numbers to back this one--that the hub of activity switched to those using the mailing list form for posting, not the newsgroup form.

Of course, it had the moderated status, so it wasn't that hard to achieve--alt.startrek.creative, for example, has a story-only mirror list, but the entirety of the newsgroup isn't mirrored, and I can't think how it WOULD be.

I do think--and this is tentative, just from observation and discussion--that the time period a fandom began has a lot to do with its dominant form of communication. Smallville, for instance, exploded around the same time LJ use came into common usage, so the cause-and-effect there is kind of blurred. Part of it, definitely, was more SV fen moving into a convenient communication route, but a proportion of it seems to be from simple exposure--and I sometimes wonder if part of the spread of relentless multifandomness comes from that very LJ exposure, where your friends list isn't single-fandom, single pairing, selective, but often covers a variety of different people, different fandoms, etc.

Hmm. That could be an entry all in itself. The thing is, I'm not sure about the cause and effect, or which led to what? Were multifandom people more likely to go to LJ to get that easy variety that mailing lists couldnt' quite provide, or did the LJ community encourage more fen to try out other things?

Wow, I have hit new highs of meta. *grins* Had no idea I had it in me.