I wrote this essay for the “future of fandom” issue of Transformative Works and Cultures. It is written as a design fiction, which is a cousin to fanfiction in the same way that speculative fiction is – it imagines a possible future.
It traces fandom’s past, through its present, and finally what the future might hold for a fandom community that continues to “own the servers.”
“As Henry Jenkins said many years ago, ‘Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk’ (Harmon 1997). We may not own the myths, but owning the servers is also a form of damage repair, where we’ve reasserted the values of our community. The future of fandom is particularly bright because of how far we’ve come, the path we’ve taken to get here, and the amazing things we’ve built along the way.”
I’m reblogging this in the wake of the announcement about Tumblr’s banning of adult content because the piece linked here was basically a fanfiction about the best outcome for fandom in this exact circumstance:
“What I hope this thought exercise emphasizes is that fandom is not helpless to external forces—to platforms, industries, or even policies. Though of course the realization of the optimistic legal and cultural changes I described here would make our work much easier, part of the story as well is that we can help drive them. The success of AO3 already suggests that we can do the impossible. And though we might only have influence and not control over the law or the media industry, there are some things that we can think about, like organizing around technical education for interested fans.”
In other words: All is not lost. The result of this happening ten years ago with LiveJournal was OTW and AO3.
Maybe we need a Social Platform Of Our Own. Maybe we can do that.
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relies on the point of view that we are the stories we tell about ourselves, and about our world.