May 22nd, 2013

rivka as ww

The fandom is the political

What Flourish Klink says about Amazon’s new fan fiction monetization project is all worth taking seriously, especially the parts about incremental change and bringing in people who weren’t traditionally “fan fiction writers.” I think that’s actually the riskiest part (and I don’t think she argues otherwise); the internet grew to its present point in a context in which it was much easier to go from inventing fan fiction in your own bedroom to finding a community of people who’d made the same invention than it had been when you had to find a convention or a round robin or the like. I’m skeptical of Golden Age thinking, but at the same time I do want to make sure that people who find fandom through places like Amazon can also easily find some non-walled gardens to play in. I also don’t think this is going to be a model for many franchises/works other than those created using the Alloy Entertainment model of monetizing a concept for teen audiences, though I’ve been wrong before!

(Flourish also points out that it’s standard white folk cluelessness to ban “racism” in Vampire Diaries fan fiction given its canonical basis in chattel slavery, though I’m pretty sure Amazon’s enforcers will be defining that term differently than many who might be reading her work; others have noted the ironies in banning excessive brand placement in Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars fic. I guess the official versions have that covered?)

Letters from Titan has a great post too, raising what seem to me to be exactly the key questions. Sure wish I had answers:
Question 1: To what degree does Kindle Worlds suggest that the fanfiction can only be legitimized through the eradication of fan culture’s gift economy?
Question 2: Fanfiction has significantly changed our media culture. Kindle Worlds isn’t just capitalizing on it, but arguably represents an attempt to shape it. Is this a feedback loop in action or an attempt to stop the catalyst that is fan work?
Questions 3: The contractual terms of Kindle Worlds are the sort traditional professional writers would be strongly advised against signing on to. Is fannish work worth less? Should it be?
Question 4: Fanfiction has, arguably, always been about the option to use use all the tools, particularly those often discouraged by corporate content production (e.g., sexuality), to tell story. If the toolbox is limited, whether a given writer would choose to use all the tools or not, is it fanfiction or is it some other form of derivative (vs. transformative) work?
Question 5: How will fan readers view/treat fan writers who use a tool like Kindle Worlds? And how does that impact our communities, hierarchies, and barriers to entry?
I also said some stuff on tumblr. Hi tumblr, I’m trying you out.  And wow are you terrible for conversations!

Relatedly: like vids? Vote in the US? Call your representatives and tell them to support DMCA reform so that vidding stays lawful. There are a variety of proposals, but only one bill that is any good and that fixes anything but cellphone unlocking.

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