[identity profile] stewardess.livejournal.com
A week after Henry Jenkins interviewed Chris Williams, FanLib CEO, he began a series called "Gender and Fan Studies."

As you may recall [see the henry jenkins interview tag if you need a reminder], Chris Williams's refusal to talk to [livejournal.com profile] telesilla and other women in fandom sparked well-deserved charges of sexism.

Edit: The series was planned by others, with Jenkins as host, long before FanLib appeared on the scene, so FanLib is not a topic.

The series is mirrored in LJ at [livejournal.com profile] fandebate!
ext_108: Jules from Psych saying "You guys are thinking about cupcakes, aren't you?" (who: said the lioness)
[identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com
This article, reprinted at Wired magazine, uses the term "crowdwriting" to describe various projects that solicited the public to participate in writing a book, and the different models used-- one project used a wiki, another author asked readers to annotate his text, etc.

The relevant bit is this:

Avon Books' "These Wicked Games," a crowd-written Regency romance novella, was the plum of a six-week writing competition that ended late October 2006. Avon outlined the competition rules and structured community interaction right down to supplying each chapter's basic plot line. These prompts guided community members to write and to work towards crafting a single primary narrative. After writers submitted their completed chapter drafts each week, fellow crowd members voted on the "best." Contestants submitted 1,705 chapters, and more than 147,000 votes were cast to determine the best efforts. "These Wicked Games" is currently available as a downloadable e-book for a fee; the e-book also includes sections featuring the daily blog and writing tips by Avon editors and authors.

Avon, of course, is a subset of HarperCollins, and the "Wicked Games" contest was put on by FanLib's predecessor, FanLit. I link this article here mostly because it's interesting to see the different POV on a FanLib project. They seem to like "Wicked Games" because it's "open source" and because it's (at least theoretically, as indicated by the quote marks around "best,") merit-based. However, I feel it's a bit of a blind spot that the writer of the article in question doesn't mention anything about whether the 6 authors were paid for their work or whether they retain any rights. The only reference to credit or renumeration in the article is as follows, discussing Penguin's wiki-novel:

Most impressive of all was that people were willing to contribute with no guarantee of credit.

"The enthusiasm that people showed for it, for a project where there was no personal recognition," mused Penguin's Ettinghausen. "The amount of work and time some people put into it was really surprising and really encouraging. We didn't want this to be about people writing in the hopes that Penguin would notice them and sign them up for a book deal." Author Margaret Atwood participated, said Ettinghausen, and "said that it was a lot of fun, but that it was writing without responsibility. So I think it allowed people to be quite free in how they wrote, and that was the whole idea...that it was anonymous and crowd-led, rather than ego-led."

(Again, just to clarify, Margaret Atwood participated in the wiki novel project, not the FanLit romance novel contest.)

Something about the paragraph about people being willing to write without getting credit for it rubs me the wrong way, though. I mean, going back to "Wicked Games" for a second-- from what I've read elsewhere on romance-novel blogs and such, it appears that "Wicked Games" seemed like a good deal because the winning authors now have their names "out there," and this might translate into actually getting one's own book published at some point. If you were an author who'd tried for a while to get published but couldn't, and felt like what you needed was a little more "name recognition" in your field, then yeah, participating in the FanLit contest would be "worth it" for that reason.

Take the credit out of the equation, though, and I get a little iffy. It's not that I think any group project where the participants don't get specifically credited for their contributions is bad. Hey, I edit Wikipedia sometimes and I don't "get credit" for it in any meaningful way, and I'd probably do it even if all edits were absolutely anonymous. (Of course, anonymous Wikipedia editing wouldn't work for a lot of logistical reasons, but I'm just saying; I *would,* anyway, and probably so would a lot of people.)

So I'm not saying it's *wrong* to be like, "Here's a project, come participate; you won't get credit for it, but it'll be fun, so come play." I mean, most writers don't write to get rich and famous anyway, do they? Even the pros who write for a living-- if you told them "hey, I'll pay you X amount a year *not to write*, they probably wouldn't do it." People write because they love it, and it's not always about money, as fanfic authors know. It's not even about credit in any real-world sense; most of us don't even write under our "real names," meaning that even the BNF-iest BNF is only "internet famous," and that plus $3.25 will get you a medium soy mocha latte at my favorite cafe.

And speaking of money-- oh, but nobody was. The article only mentions *credit*, not money. As I said, there's no reference to licensing, royalties, or anything like that in the article at all-- except of course when referring to the "fee" for downloading "Wicked Games."

I dunno about you guys, but that seems like a pretty large omission to me. When writing an article mostly about large corporations (and one individual author) harnessing the "crowdpower" of masses of individuals to create artworks-- to then not even ask who owns the artwork afterwards, and follow through on the implications of that question? Isn't it a little hinky to take something created by the public, and have it owned by a corporation who then sells it *back* to the public? Where does this leave the individual author, who now has to compete with "crowdsourced" books? C'mon, y'all, "follow the money."

Of course, it's only to be expected that this writer's angle is mostly positive, as the article itself is part of the "Assignment Zero" project, featuring "citizen and professional journalists in collaboration," where anyone can join and work in collaboration with others to produce articles and news stories-- for instance, here's an Assignment Zero contributor's project page for a review of Wicked Games. They're excited about crowdsourcing because to them it represents a new kind of opportunity for the "average Jane" to participate in fields like journalism and publishing.

Here's a conclusion that the article didn't come to, but that seems pretty obvious to me, given the examples stated. There's two models to this "crowdsourcing" thing-- the one where you give people as much creative freedom as they want to have, and the one where you don't. Both have pros and cons, both for the corporations and the individual writers.

If you're going to tightly lock down your storyline and give writers an outline to fill in, like Avon did, then you're more likely to get something that you can actually profit from afterwards-- a book with a beginning, middle and end. However, if you restrict the writers' creative freedom like that, then you're only going to get people to participate in your project if you offer them something in return, and it had better be something that they really, really want, like name recognition in a competitive field.

On the other hand, if you're like Penguin and you let people have more freedom to be creative in their own ways and come up with their own wild, crazy ideas, they're more likely to come in and play without demanding anything in return, not even credit. But you're a bit less likely to create something that actually holds together-- as a story *or* as a salable product. ("The wiki novel" may do well as a novelty, but I think it's a one-hit wonder.)

This is, I think, where FanLib's business model falls down; they think of fandom as a massive "crowdsourcing" product-producing machine, but they don't really understand that the vast majority of fanfic is created on the second model, the model of *complete* creative freedom-- where no style or form is off-limits, no topic is taboo, and no editing of any sort is necessary before one publishes. And yet they still imagine they're going to get a profitable product with mainstream appeal out of it, somehow.
[identity profile] scarah2.livejournal.com
So the ruckus forum thread got bumped again, and the newer posts in it represents one of the more irritating fallacies about anyone who has a problem with FanLib.

I too am puzzled by all the venom and brouhaha. TPTB know that in all except the most egregious cases (few and far between) fanfic actually boosts interest in their "product" be it films, tv series, etc and even extends the life of those that are no longer in production. Fanfic writers buy dvd's, novelizations, and attend cons and all of those support fandoms and of course benefit TPTB. High/low profile is a myth anyway... if you can Google for fan fic communities so can Sony and CBS, and Paramount etc.

Of course they can. I don't think anyone believes otherwise. So far, most IP holders have been pretty cool about their stuff getting ficced. They can afford this luxury, since no one's really been you know, throwing investor dollars at promoting the fic and/or shoving it in the creators' faces, which are pretty much the stated goals of FanLib. No one thinks other archives are somehow invisible from TPTB. What concerns many of us is the possible upset of this delicate symbiosis that's worked so well for so long.

I'm not sure how the cooperation between Fanlib and CBS came about but it was kind of like inviting the neighbors to your party to avoid complaints, win/win.

To take this analogy a step further, what if the neighbors get to your party and discover you have naked posters of them hanging in your bathroom? Remember folks, FanLib allows adult stories. And the biggest body of stories there are based on the work of a creator who's said publicly she doesn't appreciate the hard stuff all too much.

I just don't understand the uproar. Fanlib would be shut down already if TPTB had generic fanfic-oriented copyright concerns. I say relax and enjoy!

One more time: FanLib is trying to invent itself as something that is not just another archive. It's not "generic fanfic-oriented copyright concerns" that I think is worrying anyone, except as they may or may not be wielded as leverage once the ball of our very specific FanLib based concerns has dropped.

Next a mod post from the ever-logical bryson:
I have a kind of opinion about this. Seeing the uproar from many fanfiction communities, such as LiveJournal, has given me the impression that they have literally been under a rock for the past decade. Everyone is aware of what goes on here - writing stories based upon literary properties - and yet those who have been doing it for this long seem to believe they have a special place in the internet that is untouchable and unseen.

Kinda silly.

Yes, that's totally it. We believe that TPTB all have magical Net Nanny on their computers which protects us on every site but FanLib. I don't even know what to say about this.

Anything on the web can be found if someone knows where to look. But you're right, given the overwhelming majority of women writing it, TPTB may not have done their homework, or perhaps they're trying to encourage more guys to write

TPTB at FanLib itself? I hope that's what he means.

Blah blah, more bryson having to point out he's male, then another sexist comment to, I guess... punish the others for making him point that out? I just don't know.
ext_108: Jules from Psych saying "You guys are thinking about cupcakes, aren't you?" (atlantis: let's be bad guys)
[identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com
Ah, man. So, this post of jdsampson's was linked in the comments of scarah's latest post. Although it is way too easy to point out the flaws in her arguments-- kind of like kickboxing a hamster-- I am compelled to take a couple of shots. (Warning: this got very, very, very lengthy.)

eta 1: OK, so I was typing on VERY low blood sugar this afternoon & attributed jdsampson's post to Naomi. Naomi didn't write it; jdsampson did. I can't even blame anyone else, because the comment on scarah's post clearly cites jdsampson as the author, and I must have just read some other comment along the way and gotten jdsampson and Naomi mixed up. I have edited the post to replace all occurrences "Naomi" with "jdsampson," but some of the comments may still say "Naomi." Sorry about this.

eta 2: It appears that jdsampson has deleted the post I responded to. It was originally the very first post in the thread. The thread is still there, but her post has disappeared. However, I did quote 90% of it in my own post, so simply by reading the statements in italics, you can piece it together yourself.

Tearing apart arguments behind the cut  )
[identity profile] pfeffermuse.livejournal.com
One issue I haven't seen raised concerning FanLib -- though I haven't read all the meta, and it's doubtful I could -- is that it offers nothing for fans of classic media.

I can understand its attraction for fans of series/franchises like CSI, House, Stargate, Harry Potter, even Star Trek and Star Wars. But what does it offer for fans of series/franchises that are no longer exploitable, and will likely never have a feature film, television movie or novelization made?

The list of fandoms currently "supported" by FanLib appears to be a direct lift from all of FF.net's categories. (I'm basing that on looking at how In the Heat of the Night appears on both FF.net and FanLib: In the heat of the night -- lowercase "h" and lowercase "n" for both. Also, FanLib appears to have the same problem as FF.net, where a series is alphabetized under "a" or "t" if its title begins with "A" or "The".)

So, while not all fans of older series have ported their fic over, the following series have been: Alias Smith & Jones, Bible, Crossing Jordan, Darkwing Duck, Diagnosis: Murder, Dukes of Hazzard, Dungeons and Dragons, Early Edition, Emergency!, Forever Night, Goonies, Greatest American Hero, Happy Days, He-Man, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Judging Amy, Lois & Clark, M*A*S*H, Night Court, Quantum Leap, Operation Petticoat, SeaQuest, Sledge Hammer, Sue Thomas: FBeye, Third Watch, Titanic, UFO, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Voyagers!

The above isn't a complete list, but these were franchises that, at present, looked likely not to be resurrected in film, novelizations (Lee Goldberg apparently has finished the Diagnosis: Murder books) or any other type of media adaptation. Obviously, unless God is coming from on-high, we're not going to see any new sections added to the Bible.

So, what do fans -- and obviously they exist -- of these older commodities hope to gain by posting their fic there? And how would/could FanLib hope to profit from them? Some of these franchises are between 30-40 years old, and both the creators and (some of) the actors have passed on; so, short of a séance or offering a channelling session with Sylvia Browne, the likelihood of getting these fans in touch with the "talent" is slim to none.

In its current form, FanLib can't fulfill its current fannish PR mission of being all things to all fans. In order to provide its corporate sponsors with what they're seeking, FanLib would surely have to narrow its focus. They'd likely have to limit their window of fandoms accepted to within a certain time frame. And/or, they would be the marketing arm of creating buzz and fandomonium for a new series/franchise that fans have presently not been willing to embrace.

Just a Note

Jun. 1st, 2007 12:23 am
ext_21906: (nocturnal)
[identity profile] chasingtides.livejournal.com
In my journal, here, I have an entry about published fanfiction and RPS by respected author, touching on the FanLib and Strikethrough debates.
ext_5502: (Default)
[identity profile] aricadavidson.livejournal.com
There's too much coincidence going on. Now I know that Fanlib has nothing directly to do with the deletions, but think about the following...

1. Fanlib mess happens. [link]

2. Fandom throws a fit.

3. Mass deletion of 500 ljs [including fandom ljs] reportedly caused by an "unknown" agency [Warriors for Innocence - site with spyware, recommend you don't look it up], while a known agency [Perverted Justice] reported the same concerns over very real pedophiles and lj rebuffed them. [link]

4. "One of the FanLib founders is associated with SixApart, which just so happens to own LJ." [link]

5. Fanlib wants a monopoly on fanfiction to make a profit.

6. LJ deletions have made Fanlib look GOOD according to some people [as someone said, not a threat but an actual attack].

I KNOW that WFI has been after LJ for months, but why now? Why this week? And why did LJ listen NOW? They are backing off, but still everyone is nervous, which again, makes Fanlib somewhat forgotten.

Does it seem farfetched that this is the case? Maybe. Conspiracy Theory-esque? Yeah, sure. But like I said, too much coincidence that this all came down in one week and in the time frame that it did. Remember than Fanlib also asserted that LJ and FFN were also "for-profit" and everyone started jumping in defending Livejournal.

Like I said, I know there's no direct A to B connection, but still... It very easily could be indirectly connected.


May. 30th, 2007 12:53 pm
[identity profile] icarusancalion.livejournal.com
By request, I've added the following to my article summing up FanLib:

"On May 28th, in a move that left the fans breathless, dozens of fanfiction and literary journals were deleted for having controversial interests listed, including a Spanish-language Lolita discussion journal, an incest survivors' support group, and a Harry Potter fanfiction group with over 4,000 readers. It's unclear whether the sweep had anything to do with FanLib, though fans point to vigilante groups that have been dogging LiveJournal for over a month."

As an FYI, yes, yes, I know about WFI. We're still learning the details (there's another group that's targeted LJ, too) so it doesn't make sense to post what's caused the problem until we know more.

ETA: Barak Berkowitz, Chairman and CEO Six Apart has responded: Well we really screwed this one up.
zellieh: kitten looking shocked, openmouthed, text: WTF? (What the fuck?) (Fanfic Outside the lines)
[personal profile] zellieh
I've made two posts about the kerfuffle so far.

The guys were originally film producers, and had pages on their other site (before they took it down) with listings of films in development. I collected some of those summaries and lightly mocked them in this post here.

And I have some actual meta in this post here.
[identity profile] freifraufischer.livejournal.com
A Small post over in my own LJ discussing the psychology of FanLib's behavior, and what I think they are missing in the motives behind fanficcers. The first few paragraphs can be skipped, they are introduction for anyone on my friends list who doesn't know about Fanlib.

Note: References to particular fics are intended to illustrate a narrowness of audience and interest for many authors, not as recs.
[identity profile] quietus-x.livejournal.com
I'm forcing this to be brief, because I really have to finish my essay, damnit.

But something I haven't seen mentioned yet, in regards to fanlib trying to drag FF.N and Livejournal's names through the mud for being for-profit (which FF.N isn't, though LiveJournal is).

FF.N and Livejournal genuinely care about their members (well, it's not Xing's fault that his site's full of shitty fic). So, even if we think the site is horrible (as in the case of FF.N) and never go on it ever again, we still respect it and defend it when it's wronged.

And Livejournal, which definitely is for-profit, clearly treats us as intelligent individuals, cares about us, etc, so much that they've earned our loyalty. Even when a big block of accounts gets suspended (fandom_wank's down so I don't have the links, but there've been some posts on it over the internets) on Livejournal, no one's bitching at them about it, because we tried to see it from their perspective and understand what's going on, we know they didn't have much of a choice, etc, etc.

FanLib, on the other hand, is going so far in the opposite direction that everyone's baffled at how badly they're shooting themselves in the feet. And the legs. And the knees.

[identity profile] lilithilien.livejournal.com
I've been watching the FanLib debacle roll out (and roll over its own toes) since the beginning, commenting a bit but mainly watching you guys go to town. And can I just say, when y'all go to town you really go to town!

I haven't joined in the dialogue yet because so many people have said what I think in much more eloquent ways. But tonight while chatting with [livejournal.com profile] sarcasticchick and reading [livejournal.com profile] anqualupin's insightful analysis on the irreconcilable differences between fandom and FanLib, we realized something: This is old school Marxist thought in action.

See a simple comment explode! )
[identity profile] paradox-dragon.livejournal.com
Thought some people here might be interested in my meta post on sexism and Fanlib here.
[identity profile] angualupin.livejournal.com
The Real Communications Divide: Goal-Oriented vs. Network-Based

DISCLAIMER: Sweeping generalizations about fandom follow. Also, the "fandom" I am talking about belongs solely to LJ, not because LJ is the be-all and end-all of fandom, but because it is LJ's social network that is rising against FanLib. There are plenty of people who fit into fandom but not this particular analysis of "fandom", but they're not the ones banging on drums and calling for FanLib's heads, so I'm not talking about them.

Read at your own risk.

I have been watching the whole FanLib debacle with a certain amount of glee, not the least of which because I find it thrilling to watch people shoot themselves in the foot, as FanLib has been doing in a particularly spectacular, annihilatory way. And I have reached certain conclusions: namely, that FanLib has fallen down not because they are rapacious, greedy, and not terribly bright, but because their view of the world is fundamentally opposed to the view which fanfiction writers have of their community.

Social interactions for the sake of social interactions: What FanLib doesn't get. )

Some of this has been reworked due to insightful points raised in the comments.
[identity profile] joiedumonde.livejournal.com
So, I tried posting this yesterday, but LJ was waaaay too wonky to let it through.

I was searching LJ for things about fanlib, and came across something interesting. They have not only an LJ, but also a community created back in Feb.

[livejournal.com profile] fanlib is not directly linked with [livejournal.com profile] mimbo or [livejournal.com profile] jdsampson, but because of the date and the user icon, I'd say it's genuine. Like CW's lj it is a plus account, but has no posts, or at least none that are visible to others. It also has only one place friended (that is not related to lj specifically).

This 'friend' is a community called [livejournal.com profile] charworldnews which also has no posts, but is also a plus account. The only owner/maintainer is [livejournal.com profile] fanlib. There are no user pics for the site, but given the info above, I'd say it is also legit.

Now this in and of itself wouldn't be that remarkable, they were doing market research/wanted to set up something for future use/wanted to cybersquat/are just weird...etc.

But if you look at the comment by [livejournal.com profile] almostnever over at Henry Jenkins blog where she writes:

Why is the gender question "a bit unfair"? Fans invited Mr. Williams to comment freely as part of existing discussions. We also encouraged him to create a Livejournal community where he and/or his representatives could take questions and answer them in his own words, unedited, in his own time.

He backed away from those proposals. But he agreed readily to this interview. I'm grateful to Henry Jenkins for representing fannish questions so well here. But what was the problem with dealing with us directly? If he wanted to deal with fewer people, Mr. Williams could have asked us to designate two or three representatives. I would have voted Stewardess and Telesilla for that in a heartbeat.

It seems to make plainer the, if not contempt then the utter disregard CW has for the lj community/fandom in general. I mean he had a ready made outlet where he could have even controled the debate via moding. But he chose to take it to so-called neutral territory. Did he think that we wouldn't follow to Jenkins' blog?


x-posted to my journal
[identity profile] stewardess.livejournal.com
The 2004 FanLib marketing brochure has been widely cited by FanLib critics, and for good reason. It flatly contradicts FanLib’s current posture as the fanfiction writer’s new best friend. The brochure makes it clear that fan writers and their fanfiction are the meal to be served up to FanLib's real clients, corporate advertisers.

When Chris Williams, FanLib CEO, responded to the questions posed by fans at Henry Jenkins’s blog, he distanced FanLib from that marketing brochure, claiming it is irrelevant to what FanLib is doing now.

But it is relevant, and Williams says so himself.

Is Williams promising us sex with starlets? )

[identity profile] bookshop.livejournal.com
This is what I'm about to post in response to Henry Jenkins's blog, but it's not letting me post it (probably because I'm a moron who hit Preview Post too many times? *scratches head*) so I'm going to repost it here.

I feel compelled to respond to what I think is at the heart of the previous comments. E.M. Pink wrote:
I think back to how you proclaim our questioning your not answering us and choosing instead to answer to a man you perceive as having authority (over us?

Ultimately, the fannish anxiety about what FanLib is trying to do is not something that an improved and modified FAQ and TOS can assuage.  )
elf: Twitchy alligator from Die Anstalt (Twitchy)
[personal profile] elf
Commenting on the Chris Williams Interview. Long; approx. 2,000 words. (A substantial part of that is quotes.) I'd put it at my journal, but right now, I'm keeping most of my journal locked, so instead, I'm doing the main post here & sending my friendslist a link.

Commentary inside )
[identity profile] thingswithwings.livejournal.com
I wrote this before reading the interview with Williams in Henry Jenkins' blog, and from the looks of that text we've got a lot more work ahead of us in understanding what fanlib means, how it means, and how we can/ought to react to it. Especially, I think, in terms of issues of gender and sexuality, which were topics that Williams responded to remarkably poorly and unsatisfyingly.

But before we do that, I want to take a moment to talk, in a meta (or meta-meta) fashion about the particular tools that we used to react to this entire issue, and to tell you all this:

I love you. )


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