Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fanfiction (explosion of literacy on the web)

Fanfiction is not a new subject for me. I don't recall exactly when I got into it, but I've read my fair share of fanfiction anywhere from novel length "fics" of books such as Harry Potter, to short parody fics of NBC Heroes. Since the website doesn't seem to actually be up, I'll discuss one of my favorite fanfiction online archives, is probably one of the most well known fanfiction archives on the web. It's gigantic, has almost every series/novel/etc in every sort of scenario imaginable, and like all large archives on the internet, a good portion of it sucks. While I've come to find that most fanfiction online are greatly sub par than what you would expect to find in a published article or novel, there are the occasional gems or diamonds in the rough that can be found with enough seeking. These are (in my opinion) prime examples of literary creativity published in an environment which is open to all forms of expression (the internet). Like Jenkins said a few readings back, literacy rates in our nation (and all around the world) are going up, and the net probably has something to do with it.
I found the article "Private Uses of Cyberspace: Women, Desire, and Fan Culture " because this is indeed what I have noticed online. While there is certainly a sizable male population online, we are the minority. This is increasingly evident depending on the genres you begin to delve into. One example that is readily apparent to me, concerns a Japanese animated series "鋼の錬金術師". The original canon revolves around the lives of two alchemist brothers who seek the philosopher's stone of alchemy. During their early alchemist days, the two young brothers attempted to revive their mother (who had recently died from a mysterious sickness) using alchemy, and as a result they were heavily injured. The series is dedicated towards a young adult audience due to strong philosophical and moral/ethical themes. What I don't understand is why this series, which is not at all by definition a "girl's series" has such a devoted female fanbase. Additionally, the 22,757 stories currently published under this series (on house an increasingly large population of erotic material. I don't really have anything against erotic fanfiction-- but it does frustrate me when I'm seeking serious novel length fanfictions that explore the finer details of the author's personal takes on alchemy / the moral conundrums of the world, and I have to keep filtering through search result after search result of fics where the protagonist "does it" with another main character (a fellow alchemist, who is a colonel in the army). That's just my personal take. Other avid fanfiction readers might want to comment and add their own experiences.
Tying this in with the Davos article, "A Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace" fanfiction is one of the "niches" that could be referenced with its own set of rules, "nettiquette", community, and freedom of creation. I'm sure that those who are newly entering the fanfiction world may experience some feelings of confusion, shock, amusement, etc, and may not understand many of the minute details / jargon found in some of the posts or story summaries. Or possibly even fathom how so many pages of literature could be published FOR FREE for public use, viewable by hundreds of thousands if not millions of people scattered across the world in a variety of different languages. As the Davos article expresses, "In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost." One would be hard pressed to find words more true than these.

An interesting article related to our readings...

An author is threatened with a lawsuit by a fanfiction writer for "stealing ideas" from the fanfiction...

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