The convention began at dinner on Thursday night, which was appropriate enough, as meals were something of a theme for me this year. I had many, and they were always with excellent company. I got to talk to old friends as well as people I'd not really met before.
On Thursday, I met Sushi1, a Tassie fan who is doing a fascinating quantitative analysis of Stargate: SG1 fanfiction. Needless to say, bardiegrub, black_samvara, maharetr and I grilled her mercilessly over her Thai curry noodles, and learned that it is Jack, not Daniel, who can be empirically proven to be the little black dress of SG1 fandom! The hard data do not lie!
I think we all drew the same conclusion from this finding: a) Jack is just as easy as we always suspected, and b) that Sushi1 was going to be a researcher to watch!
I had just about recovered from this shocking revelation, when it was time for my first panel: "Sharing the Love: Online Fanfic Fandom."
This was a general introduction to fanfiction culture, and covered acronyms and LOLspeak, feminism and fanfiction, and issues such as how to find resources. In particular, I promised to link to resouces for Beta-reading:
- Reference Sources for Betas and Writers (Updated March 20, 2008) by periwinkle27
- Writing Meta Table of Contents (scroll down to "vi. The process of editing") by synecdochic
- The Things We Never Talk About (scroll down to "How do you edit effectively?") by cupidsbow, and you can find other essays on writing by me here.
- You can find a whole heap of stuff on the community metafandom which is the main newsblog for online fandom. The most relevant tags are: betaing, writing, concrit.
That should get you started, and you are always welcome to leave a comment if you have questions.
I had an odd Friday. I spent part of it in a feminist rage for reasons which don't need exploring at this juncture, and then I went to several really awesome panels.
First up was "Post No Bills: SF and Graffiti" which made me want to go out and increase my countercultural cred immediately, because the art Kate had collected was amazing. I can't do this justice, so I'm not even going to attempt a summary. Does anyone have good links to photos of graffiti and street art?
Next, I went to "Applied SF: Using SF in the Real World" by Karl Schroeder, which was about the role of foresight analysts. I took notes on this paper, so will probably write them up when I'm not so tired.
Finally, I went to "Fan Ownership" at which Rob Shearman wrapped the audience around his eloquent fingers like some kind of exotic snake charmer. If you ever get a chance to hear Rob speak, take advantage. He's the epitome of eccentric British charm, and I could easily have listened to his tall tales for hours and hours.
And that was Friday. Well, I also ate and drank and ate and drank and had several wonderful conversations with the other women at the con. They were a highlight for me this year. The women at Swancon are so smart, qualified and experienced, they could staff a small, liberal, but very elite university. I don't understand why they aren't stuck on every conceivable panel. They are just so awesome. At one Gynaecon panel on Sunday (Gynaecon = the underground feminist stream of programming), I think there were more PhDs per square metre than in the academic stream!
Anyway, that was Friday.
I attended the academic stream. It was awesome. I think I will blog it separately as it was too awesome to fit into a neat summary.
My paper was on: Web 2.0, Henry Jenkins' book Convergence Culture and fandom. Until I've re-written and submitted it for the proceedings, I won't know which parts I can post; but I was very happy with how it turned out and it seemed to be received well.
The day was capped off with poor Ken Macleod watching Nico and I having a bunfight on a panel about the future of fandom. The funniest part was when Nico said (to radically summarise) "reading culture is dead," and I said "fanfiction is a written form," and he said "it's not paid" as though that should definitively end the argument, and I agreed it wasn't paid and gave him the hairy eyeball. :) It was like we were reading from two scripts: Nico's was Literary Fandom 101, and mine was Web 2.0, and never the twain shall meet! Although Ken Macleod did his best to meld the old and new waves of fandom with an awesome venn diagram that had us intersecting like a wandering asteroid and a gas giant, both drifting along in the vastness of space.
I love clever venn diagrams. If I get keen, I shall try to recreate this one as it was cool.
After that I pretty much flaked off. I didn't go to the ball -- I'm such a slacker when it comes to costumes. Next year, I think I will make an effort.
I went to more of the awesome academic stream, which surprisingly surpassed the previous day's awesomeness level, which I would not have thought possible. This was largely due to Andrew Milner's paper on the history of sf criticism, which was fascinating in a way that was... let's say not in keeping with my previous experiences of such topics. I have notes on this too, which I plan to write up while things are fresh.
Other highlights included: Rob Shearman's commentary on the Dr Who episode "Dalek," in which he once again had his wicked way with the audience thanks to his charm level being stuck on 11; the photo exhibition of 70 Years of BBC Science Fiction (so many memories -- oh, Servelan, how are you so wonderful?); and the Awards Ceremony, which ran on rails. Mumfan made me cry, as usual. I love the Mumfan award so much. We have the best fandom traditions!
The day ended with a long discussion in the foyer about... um, I'm completely blank actually, but it was very interesting. Maths, perhaps? Or weddings? Maybe both at the same time! *nods seriously*
Monday was all about fanworks! Well, it was for me. I'd been looking forward to this panel all con: black_samvara, transcendancing and I hosted "Transformation and Fanworks". I kicked things off by talking a bit about the Organization for Transformative Works, and what its goals are. People asked really thoughtful questions -- some of the best questions about fanworks I've received so far.
After the intro, we moved on to the main topic of the panel: what transformative works actually are. We showed some different examples to give people an idea of the range and different types of transformation possible, and the audience gave some examples too, including some really interestingly borderline ones.
For those interested, here are the texts we chose to illustrate different types of transformation:
Example of a CreativeCommons licence compared to a typical fanwork disclaimer.
- My Own Kind of Freedom, by Steven Brust (Firefly fanfiction novel -- click through to the pdf for the copyright page)
- Jayne Eyre, by bookishwench (fanfic crossover Firefly/Bronte)
Different types of transformation: "What if?", motivational posters, and an AU.
- First Officer T'Pura, by buggery (Star Trek: TOS AU)
- Motivational Posters, by techno4tomcats (Dr Who, classic and new)
- Cyberwoman vs Pterodactyl!, by ace_girl (Torchwood AU)
A rough idea of the size of fanfiction fandom:
"Fanfiction" on Google: 14,400,000 hits (20 March 2008)
Number of stories in fandoms over 10k on Fanfiction.net (20 March 2008)
1. Harry Potter (347,813)
2. Inuyasha (78,535)
3. Yu-Gi-Oh (43,811)
4. Lord of the Rings (40,870)
5. Gundam Wing/AC (38,869)
35. Sonic the Hedgehog (10,535)
Some of the more complex examples of transformative work, which transform the source on several levels at once:
- Missed the Saturday Dance, by zoetrope (SGA AU multi-media story)
- Written by the Victors, by cesperanza and others (SGA multi/meta-verse)
- The Corruption of Canon, by virtualinsomnia (Anthropomorfic meta-fiction)
- Piece of Me, by obsessive24 (RPF, Britney Spears)
That was pretty much where my convention ended, bar the thank yous, a debriefing on Eastern States gossip (very important SMOFing, omg ;) and easter egg munching in the foyer.
In short: it was awesome. Now I sleep.