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The Virtual Alternative to the “Where Is Our Fandom Going – and How Do We Get There?” Panel - Corflu

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April 26th, 2008


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ceemage
10:22 pm - The Virtual Alternative to the “Where Is Our Fandom Going – and How Do We Get There?” Panel
OK, so I kept a transcript of what was said in the Virtual Corflu chat room during the “Where Is Our Fandom Going – and How Do We Get There?” Panel, and a suitably summarised version is behind the cut. Since I'm not sure that everyone knew I was transcribing, I've left people's screenames "as is," even when I know the person behind them. (Some, to be fair, are the same as their livejournal usernames anyway.) Feel free to de-cloak yourselves in the comments if you want.


Picture the scene. On the left hand side of the web page, a somewhat flaky webcam feed of Las Vegas's finest. On the right, a chat room window, featuring fans from across the world so desperate to be at Corflu that they are typing at each other a real-time commentary on the panel they are observing.

As the panel started, eFanzines noted that "Arnie is thanking all the helpers." There were various requests to move the webcam to get a better view - CorfluSilver said that the position was "because it's the only place in the room with a power outlet" Absaka suggested a extension cord. BohemianCoast noted "Goodness, normally I have to go to the pub to get such a clear view of Mark Plummer's backside..."

Warming to her topic, BohemianCoast said "There's nothing like the feeling of having an actual fanzine in your hand, where you have chosen the printing technology and paper and so on -- And the right colour of staples..." GeriSullivan agreed, "but I do like what you can do with links in a PDF, and I have a kazillion things to learn about html and its relatives." BohemianCoast said she'd personally "rather have four issues of Banana Wings than 164 issues of the Drink Tank." GeriSullivan and ceemage would rather have both! BohemianCoast was afraid that "Electronic fanac allows people to randomly spurt content all over the internet..."

IanSorensen asked "I'm trying to listen to the panel, watch Dr Who Confidential and type. Am I a woman?" There was some egoboo for the British fanhistory fanzine, Prolapse, although eFanzines noted that "Lilian Edward made a scathing denouncement of Prolapse!" at Eastercon. Absarka had "heard about Lilian's tirade. It sounded to me as if she was mostly trying to yank fandom's chain again." eFanzines agreed - "She said as much afterwards." ReplyHazy complained"Lilian? Tirade? I miss all the entertaining stuff." BohemianCoast felt that "Lilian only cares about fan history when she's in it."

BohemianCoast said "Well, personally I use the internet, especially LJ, to provide daily connectivity. Paper fanzines provide context and reflection." ceemage suggested "fanzines are for reading in the bath - efanzines are for reading on the ipod" BohemianCoast didn't "have a lot of time for the 'instant fanzine' where the editor writes whatever they're thinking about and sticks it on the web. That's a blog." ceemage felt that the only efanzine that really counted as "a blog in disguise" was Richard Geis' Taboo Opinions. eFanzines said "I'm pleased to see anything from Dick Geis these days."

BohemianCoast explained "I think what I'm saying is that the articles in some of the frequent e-fanzines feel as if the writer just shoved some stuff down." GeriSullivan added "The mistress may provide quality egoboo, but she (or he) can't provide the full spectrum of egoboo you can get from pubbing your ish." ReplyHazy felt that "those super frequent zines are high on natter and low on content. I have lots of things to skim already." BohemianCoast agreed - "I get tons of stuff in my RSS reader; I don't really need to go elsewhere for it." ceemage said he "wouldn't claim (and nor would Chris) that things like The Drink Tank are comparable to fully-fledged paper zines" like Banana Wings and Prolapse - "but they do fill a niche in between the blog immediacy of 'this is what I though of today' and the fully fledged fanzine that appears quarterly because thats how long it takes to pull together."

GeriSullivan noted that the chatroom was filling up - "if we get enough more people joining, we may outnumber the audience. That's more of a challenge than it was for the Corflu LJ community in Toronto." It was noted that several people in the chat room were actually at Corflu anyway - either in the audience or up in their rooms. Various people requested a wave via the webcam.

eFanzines noted that, on the real panel, "Arnie is making some good points - he's talking about sex with Mr Spock." ceemage didn't "know Arnie had had sex with Mr. Spock - You learn something new every day." Listening to the panel, BohemianCoast felt that "Some of these arguments are just insane" - ReplyHazy added "And some are awfully familiar." BohemianCoast paraphrased the arguments she was hearing as "People who watch SF on TV don't think or engage" - "only we are like us and out there are the Great Unwashed" ustreamer-6223 felt "That's imputing a value judgment the size of a house."

BohemianCoast felt media SF was at least as worthy as books - "I mean, Heroes was a triff bit of SF which would hold up very well against a lot of stuff I read as a child." jmstine-1 agreed - "i know several young who and torchwood and next generation fans in their twenties who are brilliant grad students and are fully engaged and talk about the ideas in the shows." ustreamer-6223 asked "It is actually possible to say "only we are like us" without also saying "this means everyone else is worthless"?"

Talking about the quality of the webcam feed, jmstine-1 said "the buffering is bad but this is a historic cast and the tec will improve" Absarka agreed - "THIS is fanhistory." He wished "Arnie would say, "well, let's find out what the fans on the Virtural Corflu website think about this..."" eFanzines volunteered "If you can come up with a consensus I'll present it from the audience." ceemage thought this was unlikely with fans. but said "I think the consensus is that the people in the chatroom think that paper fanzines are best - which is suitably ironic to be fannish."

There was some discussion about when fandom was best. ustreamer-6223 noted that "Terry Carr said the golden age of SF is 13. Maybe the golden age of fandom is whenever you discovered it." BohemianCoast said "I like right now, actually. I think being able to hear a Corflu panel from my study is just cool." ceemage felt that "the best time in fandom is just before you joined - because everyone says it;s not as good as it used to be."

Absarka felt that "e-fanzinning is still in it's infancy. 5 years from now none of us will even recognize what's happing now." nabuok felt that "electronic fanzines are easier to file!" Absarka added "It's going to be a Wild New World then... and I say bring it on." BohemianCoast noted "Though actually, Absarka, things have moved rather more slowly than I might have expected." ceemage felt "We need an alternate paradigm." GeriSullivan loved "both formats. I want to see online fanzines do more with animated art, color (that's coming along) and all sorts of things that you simply CAN'T do in print." nabuok felt "that's just turning fanzines into a multimedia format." GeriSullivan said "At their best, the fannish conversation flows between different fanzines. With electronic 'zines, we can link that." ustreamer-25992 added "Whatever the format the key thing is *audience* (you know what I mean)."

BohemianCoast said "Hey, I ran a fan lounge at a Worldcon and it was perfectly sound, both in terms of 'core fandom' (whatever the that is) and as a place where fans of all stripes could relax and have a nice time." ustreamer-6223 asked "If you don't know what core fandom is how can you know whether the fan lounge catered to it?"

Absarka said "Modern fandom as a whole really doesn't understand that *we* see Fandom as a community rather than as just a hobby. Thus, I think it's largely lost on most con attendees that Fandom is a family as much as it is anything. - If we want to evangalize *our* fandom, that's the point we have to sell."

ustreamer-6223 asked "Do we want to evangelise our fandom?" IanSorensen said "People find fannish fandom, fannish fandom doesn't find them."ReplyHazy agreed - "Considering how I react to anybody evangelizing about anything, I'm glad fandom didn't evangelize to me in 1983."

BohemianCoast felt that core fandom as a "group gets special treatment, partly because it demands it, and partly because of the thread of history running through it." ustreamer-25992 felt that "Demanding is a good tactic (done well) - But a high risk strategy (done badly)." ceemage didn't think that "core fandom is as demanding as other fandoms - all we want is a fan room near the real ale bar." By contrast, "how much tech do the costumers consume?" ReplyHazy noted "Serious costumers are terrifyingly knowledgeable about technology." BohemianCoast pointed out "The costumers get away with it because, even now, hundreds of people who aren't costumers like to go and watch the masquerade. - Similarly, film fans got away with it right up to the point where con committees noticed it was a lot of effort for very few people and ditched it." She added "Filk fans get their demands met because their demands are so reasonable.. "We'd like a room after you're done with it for the night and some water"." - "So the trick is to be reasonable in the context of the convention but quite specific about what you want and why."

ReplyHazy said "Years from now I'll be trying to figure out whether or not I was at this con, because I'll remember bits of it." As the panel broke up, various attendees came over to the webcam to see what we were up to. ustreamer-41143 noted "So the fans attending the con, ignore the *actual* con to chat with the virtual folk..."

And if you think that comes over as disjointed, you should have seen the original transcript...
Current Location: not corflu ;-(
Current Mood: faanish
Current Music: Corflu Silver Virtual Con live feed

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:gerisullivan
Date:April 27th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
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Well done!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 27th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)

Good summary of a weird Corflu experience

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Very good summary, Peter. The only important thing you didn't really convey was how fast-paced and "happening right now" it all felt. There was an amazing flash-crowd feeling to the panal and it continued throughout the rest of the chat room discussion that followed. Thanks for posting this. And Absarka was - and is - Curt Phillips.

Curt Phillips
[User Picture]
From:profgeek
Date:April 27th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
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Nice summation. Thank you for taking the time to do this, Peter, since I wasn't able to be on at the time.
[User Picture]
From:the_maenad
Date:April 27th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
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Let the record show that ustreamer-6223 was I, Sandra Bond. And the cryptic comment at the end refers to the fact that I was actually present at the con, yet stayed in my hotel room participating in the above discussion rather than going down to the panel.

I didn't plan it that way; I was running late when I got out of the bathroom and thought I'd turn the channel back on while I dried and dressed myself. Then I got sucked into the debate, and lo, the rest was history.

No, bohemiancoast, I do not make a habit of going to US cons just to sit in my hotel room. Who do you think I am, Greg Pickersgill?
[User Picture]
From:spikeiowa
Date:April 27th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
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I dearly wish to be at Corflu this weekend. Are you having fun? I have been a couple of different ustreamers this weekend, but have said nothing definitive. THANK YOU for participating.
[User Picture]
From:the_maenad
Date:April 27th, 2008 07:09 am (UTC)
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It's an absolute blast, I'm afraid. (Well, not afraid for me, but sad to have to tell you when you're missing the fun.)

Next year in (I understand) Seattle! Or mmmmmaybe Brighton; we'll know tomorrow I guess.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 27th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)

Laptops in the program room

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Hi Sandra. If you have a laptop with you, bring it on down to the program room today and participate in both the live convention and the virtural consuite at the same time. Bill Burns did that yesterday and it was great! He gave us in the "on-line Corflu" an extra set of ears and eyes during the proceedings. This whole "virtural consuite" idea is a blast, isn't it. Hardly takes the place of being there, but I've been having a great time with it.

Curt Phillips
[User Picture]
From:ceemage
Date:April 27th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Laptops in the program room

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Sounds good. My only concern is that too many laptops in the program room may make the video feed even more flakey, given that they are all sharing the same wifi space as the webcam. But what do I know?

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