Maciej Cegłowski: Fan is a Tool-Using Animal

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Maciej Cegłowski (@BaconMeteor) was talking about fandom at dConstruct these are my notes from his talk.

1967 Star Trek created a cultural phenomenon.  Not popular but those who liked it really liked it.  Kirk - Spock relationship was the motor of Star Trek although a subtext.  Fans are smart and wanted to read about Man going where Vulcan has never gone before.  Became "the premise" or K/S (Kirk / Spock) which became "slash".  With the internet it got closer to the surface because people dug it.

I used to hate fandom but had a road to Damascus moment. was a social book marking site with tags - a search engine in reverse.  Tags were self organising between users with no instructions on how to do this.  Bought by Yahoo! for the capacity to organise content.  Fan fic people came up with conventions to use to act as a very detailed search engine.  Using the same conventions so everyone could find things.

Started Pinboard because I didn't like the way looked. purchase was bungled and destroyed the features the fans loved.  Most important: you couldn't search for /.  Asked what the fanfic people wanted from pintrest - 52 page Google Doc - broke the sharing functionality of Docs at times there were so many people trying to edit.  Someone even wrote a fic about the writing about the document.  These are wonderful people - the exact opposite of YouTube comments.

  • Fans are SO NICE
  • Fans fight censorship - they are often the first victims
  • Fans fight for privacy - an alterego gives freedom
  • Fans never sold out
  • Fans transgress
  • Fans improve our culture - our TV shows have improved because of fans

Social is not a syrup - it's not even a noun!  You can't engineer a website and sprinkle social on top and it's a success.

Don't make it too easy.  The difficulty of the tools and the norms of the community protect it.  The terrible UI protects from drive by comments.

Lurkers are watching you and they outnumber everyone else. 

Stop futzing with it - if it's good then leave it as it is. 

Shut up and listen - people are using your site in ways you don't know - listen to them. 

Breakups are hard - communities leave in one go.

We are all fans.  Just becuase you're not into fan fic doesn't mean your not a fan, empathise with them.

Fandom changes lives.  It can open people's eyes to other ways of being.

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