Presenters confirmed for FanLIS: Building Bridges, online symposium hosted by CityLIS to be held on 20th May 2021. Speaker details are subject to change.
Abigail De Kosnik
Archiving, Librarianship, and Futurity Among Pirates and Fans
What do media pirates and fans have to do with contemporary practices, discourses, and conflicts of and around librarianship and archiving? In this talk, I will continue the lines of thinking begun in my book Rogue Archives (MIT Press, 2016) and my article “Piracy Is the Future of Culture” (Third Text, 2019) about how fandom and piracy are not extraneous or ancillary, but central to, issues of digital preservation and access. I will examine phenomena such as: the tensions between streaming media services and personal downloading; accusations of piracy leveled at the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library; the failures of universities and corporations to sustain content libraries; and fans’ uses of social media platforms to perform archival and access functions. I will argue that the pirates (including librarians tagged as pirates), and fans are pioneers in the realm of digital cultural memory, but face numerous challenges, including escalating copyright wars, disinformation campaigns, and the obsolescence of waves of digital technologies.
Abigail De Kosnik is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM) and the Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies. She is also the Director of BCNM, and the 2020-2025 craigslist Distinguished Chair in New Media. She is the author of Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom (MIT Press, 2016) and co-editor, with Keith Feldman, of #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation (University of Michigan Press, 2019). She has published articles on media fandom, popular digital culture, social media, and performance studies in Third Text, Cinema Journal (now Journal of Cinema and Media Studies), The International Journal of Communication, Modern Drama, Transformative Works and Cultures, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Performance Research, and elsewhere. She co-organizes The Color of New Media, a working group focusing on technology and intersectionality. De Kosnik is Filipina American.
Twitch (Still) Plays Pokémon: When Spectators Become Archivists
In 2014, an anonymous user changed the way game streaming worked. Through the channel of ‘Twitch Plays Pokémon’ on Twitch, the viewers were able to control and play the classic Pokémon Red game in real time, by sending inputs through the comments section, in what was hailed as a ‘social experiment’. Soon enough, apart from just focusing on finishing the game, the fans had developed communities, which sprouted artefacts such as memes and fanfiction, and even a joke religion. In addition, multiple fans, without any prompt from the stream’s management, started documenting the stream’s history and records.
At the moment, the stream’s participation has declined, although there still remains a niche audience bent on maintaining the community and its ideals. More remarkable is the fact that despite significant changes to the scope and orientation of the community, those archives of the past fame are still talked about and respected by its members. Moreover, during the lockdown period of 2020, an initiative to revisit the stream’s past days took place, sparking the interest about it again.
I examine how this case transcends the regular case of user-generated fan art, and becomes one of the first examples of pure fan-generated narrative. In this presentation, I also reflect on its current status of declined popularity and the tools used by the remaining members to keep the community alive, often through references to archived material.
Aris Emmanouloudis is a PhD candidate on Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Having finished his MA degree on Media Studies, he began his research on tactics of resistance in on-line cultures of video game fandom. He has also worked as a teaching assistant for a course on games and game studies, and has been curating and organising lectures on various issues around video games and popular culture.
Senan Kiryakos & Magnus Pfeffer
Japanese Visual Media Graph: Providing researchers with data from enthusiast communities
Though there is an increasing interest by researchers from various domains in studying many aspects of Japanese popular culture, their efforts are often met with challenges due to the scale and complexity of content being produced. Additionally, mediums in this domain like anime, manga, and video games, have been largely ignored by memory institutions, such as libraries and archives, that traditionally create descriptive bibliographic data. This has resulted in a level of description of these resources which is often inadequate for both researchers and fans alike.
These factors have led to the development of numerous enthusiast communities on the web, which create and curate their own online databases, and do so according to their own unique interests, needs, and regional contexts. These fansites have diverse focuses, such as Japanese visual media generally, single mediums such as anime or visual novels, and individual franchises. In doing so, these fans often and unknowingly solve problems similar to those faced by researchers, such as recording a large amount of very granular data for the content of Japanese visual media, establishing and describing connections between related resources, and creating semi-formal data structures and vocabularies for descriptions.
The Japanese Visual Media Graph (JVMG) project, funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), seeks to address the needs of researchers by utilizing both the experiences of and
content produced by these various communities. In doing so, the goal of the JVMG is to develop a queryable database, primarily aimed at academic researchers interested in Japanese visual media, with data sourced and aggregated from several online fan communities.
Central to the achievement of this goal is a data harvesting and modeling workflow that involves creating distinct class structures and vocabularies for each community, enabling the querying of individual datasets. As these ontologies must represent the data as it exists on each fansite, a thorough understanding of each dataset is required, which involves discussions with community representatives, as well as our own analysis of the data. This has resulted in a deeper insight into the unique descriptive characteristics of each dataset, e.g. what aspect of a creative work is being described, how connections between related objects are made and represented, and the level of data granularity. Because we also wish to establish connections between related resources present in the community data and enable the querying of a unified dataset, we also create a unified ontology. Using the knowledge gained from studying each community, this unified ontology is being created in a way that accurately represents the way fan communities view and understand data surrounding Japanese visual media, while also being additive and extensible enough to enable researchers to explore the data in ways that facilitate their needs.
Our presentation will focus primarily on the knowledge obtained from the analysis of the community data. We will discuss the different community providers, the data they provide, and their differences and similarities. We will also illustrate how this knowledge has informed the ontology creation for each dataset, as well as our own unified ontology. In doing so, we hope to show the strengths and diversity in community created content, and why and how this content can be of use to a variety of researchers interested in Japanese visual media.
Senan Kiryakos completed his masters in Library and Information Studies, and doctoral degree in Informatics from Tsukuba University. He is a project member in the Japanese Visual Media Graph project, Institute for Applied Artificial Intelligence, Stuttgart Media University. His research focus is metadata, knowledge organization, and ontologies, primarily for works of popular culture.
Magnus Pfeffer is a professor for information management at Stuttgart Media University, Germany. His research interests include linked data, metadata integration, information retrieval in heterogeneous datasets and machine learning.
Alice M. Kelly
Affect and Author-Gods: Digital Archives, Queer Pleasures and Fannish Feeling in Literary Scholarship
In this paper, I will reflect on how fan studies has shaped my approach to literary scholarship and provided me with the vocabulary for queering the digital archive. From anti-canonicity to embodiment, theories about how transformative fan works circulate in digital archives like the Archive of Our Own (AO3) have redefined my own thinking about traditional literary scholarship and digital humanities in profound ways. Queer readings of homoerotic subtext are an expected component of fannish responses to media texts, regardless of that media property’s sexual economy, canon relationships or the identification of its characters. Fannish literacies and the critical lexicon of fan studies has thus been shaped how I engage with Conrad First, the digital periodical archive which houses the magazines and newspapers in which Conrad’s work was first published. Though the female characters to which I was drawn have never been read as lesbian in Conrad scholarship, the methodologies – of interpretation, investment, and imagination – that fanfiction as a cultural practice inspires allowed me to conceptualise queering these archival bodies. I propose to bring together the renumerated, canonical literature that occupied my PhD and the transformative fan-authored works I have been focusing on more recently, to provide a personal account of how fan studies as a discipline has revitalized the instincts and methods of my own previous research. I anticipate this presentation to be an exploration of how certain scholarly discourses can illuminate the networks of power, status and capital that stratify and signify authorship.
Alice M. Kelly is a literary and media scholar focusing on femslash fanfiction and its connection to queer cultural memory. She held a digital scholarship postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities 2019-2020, where she worked on the project ‘Winking Back: Femslash Fanfiction as Literature of Queer Survival in the Digital Age’. Her first book, Decolonising the Conrad Canon, is based on the doctoral thesis she completed at the University of Edinburgh in 2018, on Joseph Conrad’s female characters and the colonial literary canon, and is under contract with Liverpool University Press.
J. Nicole Miller
“I Know What I’m About”: Fanfiction and the Information-Seeking Behaviors of Young Adult Readers
Young people in fandom today have more platforms than ever to choose from when it comes to reading fanfiction. These platforms often differ in terms of how a user can search and browse for stories to read, and as such, young adult readers may have to develop higher-than-average search literacy skills in order to find fanfiction that they are interested in reading. By investigating the information-seeking behaviors that young people exhibit when searching and browsing in fanfiction communities, we can potentially leverage these behaviors to help young people develop search literacy, including the development of tools to help young adults improve their search literacy skills. This presentation will share findings discovered from semi-structured interviews with young adult readers reflecting on their search experiences in fandom communities and other platforms, and the various search methods they used to find both fiction and fanfiction to read. The presenter will make recommendations on ways search literacy instruction for young adults can be enhanced based on the findings of this study.
J. Nicole Miller (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in the Information Studies program at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, where she first became aware of fan studies as a field of research and its overlap with library and information science. Her areas of interest are teens, media, and fan studies. Her current work examines the information-seeking behaviors of young adults in fandom.
What if academics published on AO3 and fans on Zenodo?
There is considerable overlap between some fannish and academic communities in terms of motivations, values, and practices. The tools that communities use to exchange works can both reflect and shape those practices. In this session, I want to reflect on the overlap between fans and scholars by imagining how they might use each other’s infrastructure. What would the system of scholarly communication, much-questioned and much-reimagined in these days of open scholarship, look like if it academics used AO3? How would fans adjust their publication practices if their platform was a state-of-the-art system for sharing various kinds of academic materials, like the data repository Zenodo? The session will consist of a group discussion and collaborative editing of the results.
Nele Noppe is a data librarian at the University of Leuven, Belgium, where she helps develop good data management practices for research projects. In a previous life, she studied how tools, interfaces, and regulations influence the publication systems of English- and Japanese-speaking fans.
Filling the Gap: An Exploration into the Theories and Methods Used in Fan Studies
Interdisciplinarity involves the interaction, combination and integration of theories, concepts and methods across different disciplines – and fan studies are commonly seen as an interdisciplinary field of research. This contribution wants to shed light on the question of interdisciplinarity by investigating contemporary notions of theory and methods used in discipline-related scholarly journals. Particularly with regard to the methods used in research, on the one hand there is a lack of a “distinct” body of methodological approaches, while on the other hand there is a wide variety of methods that include quantitative, qualitative, archival, legal, textual, and community-centered methods with more or less rigor – which poses a challenge when it comes to questions of compatibility and interdisciplinarity. To fill this gap, the contribution looks at two of the most internationally acknowledged journals dedicated to fan studies – Transformative Works and Culture and the Journal of Fandom Studies – and presents the findings of a metadata analysis of the article keywords as well as of a content analysis of 50 randomly selected abstracts in order to investigate the dominant theoretical approaches and methods used in the published articles.
Dr Colin Porlezza is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Journalism with City, University of London and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Media and Journalism at the University of Lugano in Switzerland. His research focuses mostly on the hybridization and datafication of digital journalism as well as media accountability and ethics. He has also been looking specifically into the interrelations between journalism and fan studies. He is currently a Board member of the Swiss Association of Communications and Media Research.
Paul A. Thomas
How Adventure Time Fans Understand the ‘True’ Producer: A Close Analysis of Two Encyclopedic Fan Texts
Ever since the show’s debut in 2010, fans of the Cartoon Network (CN) animated series Adventure Time—following the fantastical exploits of “Finn the Human” and “Jake the Dog”— have produced myriad fanworks, of which one category is the encyclopedic fan texts. These works document (rather than expand upon) the source material, and for Adventure Time fans, the two main “archives” for these texts are Wikipedia and the Adventure Time Wiki. While different, these sites both encourage editors to document the series in a way that directly aligns with how the show’s producers understand it. This was long a laborious but nonetheless straightforward task for Adventure Time fan editors, given that the show’s production crew and CN itself were usually on the same page regarding how they understood their series. But then in 2017, CN began re-arranging the show’s seasons in a way that conflicted with the understanding of the show’s production crew, and confusion followed.
To better understand this issue, let us briefly comment on the show’s production schedule. CN had initially ordered nine seasons from the production crew. However, when CN released the seventh season on DVD in 2017, the network began to reconfigure how the was divided, and when all was said and done, CN had reorganized Adventure Time into ten discrete seasons. This contrasted with the vision of the production crew, who had produced the series with the understanding that its episodes would be released across nine seasons. Fan editors were suddenly faced with a problem: Which delineation of the show should they follow? Some editors recognized CN’s new ten-season delineation as the “official” one, given that the network legally owned the series. Other editors argued that the original nine-season delineation was correct, because it reflected the true “vision” of the production crew. In the end, the former interpretation was considered by fan editors on both fansites to be the “correct” understanding of the show.
In this presentation, I will consider this online debate and its outcome through the lens of information studies. I will first employ Ludi Price’s 2018 model of fan information behavior to briefly describe how fan editors take a raw source text and convert it into an encyclopedic fan text. Then I will show that conflicts like this occur when editors recognize more than one official “producer,” and these conflicts end only when a majority of editors recognize a single, “true” producer. I contend that this final recognition is usually grounded in the epistemology of the fan archive(s) in question; in this case, for instance, both Wikipedia and the Adventure Time Wiki place an emphasis on “reliable [that is, ‘company-approved’] sources,” which lent epistemological support to the idea that Cartoon Network was the one “true” producer. In doing so, I aim to expand the Price model of fan information behavior by showing that the category of “producer” is more complex than many might initially assume.
Paul Thomas is a library specialist at the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS, USA) and a PhD student at Emporia State University (Emporia, KS, USA). He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology & Classics from the University of Kansas (2015), and a Master of Arts degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago (2016). His research focuses on the intersection of LIS, fandom studies, and Wikipedia research.