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Where are all the fans? Thoughts on LJ, yahoo lists, zines and usegroups

It was recently brought home to me how utterly retro I am. I have been, up until a few weeks ago, accessing the internet through dialup. OK, there are extenuating circumstances – i.e., there aren’t any DSL providers in my area – but the truth is, I wasn’t all that bothered about using dialup. This might be because the DSL service at work is unreliable (we’re at the tail end of the DSL service in that area). My home dialup, OTOH, has always been rock steady. I’ve been able to download many megs of music vids with no problems whatsoever.

Recently, the local cable TV company began mailing me flyers about their cable modem service, so I finally decided to join the 21st century and get broadband. (Downloading is sure a pleasure now...! Zip zip zip! Instead of “walk away from the computer for hours”...)

(Pausing for a moment to contemplate that, up until my father passed away in the mid-80s, he still had a rotary telephone and was on a party line.) Cue the Monty Python skit!*

So I start to feel I’m totally oldfashioned. Until I contemplate a small group of friends who get together every once in awhile. All of us are fannish, most of us are still actively involved in fandom, and all of us got into fandom in the 1970s or 1980s.

I’m the only person in that group with broadband, and I’m the only person in that group on LJ.

It’s not that all these people are into pre-net fandoms. Two of them are very much “fannish butterflies”, always trying out the latest fandoms. And they’re aware of LJ. Even though they don’t have LJ identities they do visit LJ to read fic, via various reclists.

So, my question - where are all the fans? Everywhere!

Comments in panel discussions at recent slash conventions (Escapade 2006, BASCon 2006) have ranged from:

- Yahoo lists are dead; all the action is on LJ, and nobody posts to lists anymore.

- But wait! One woman commented in a panel discussion that there was just *too* much traffic on the yahoo lists in her preferred fandom; she found her fandom smaller and easier to manage in LJ. (Her fandom is contemporary; one of those forensic detective shows.) So much for yahoo lists being dead.

- Recently – very recently - on a yahoo group, a new member commented that she guessed much of the action in her particularly fandom had migrated from usegroups to yahoo lists, so she had just signed up to this particular list. I hadn’t known there was still *any* fannish participation at all in usegroups; which just shows what I know.

- And then there’s the zine world, in which I’m very much an active participant.

Of course there are some people like me, who dabble in a bit of everything. Including, finally broadband.

Do I have a point with all of this? Not really. It’s just that I’m amazed at the sheer number of venues people can participate fannishly these days.

And I still can’t figure out why there aren’t any DSL providers in my area (I called *everyone*). I live in the middle of Los Angeles County…! How can there possibly be a DSL black hole in the middle of Los Angeles County???

*** Cue the Monty Python “We were poor” skit...



http://bau2.uibk.ac.at/sg/python/Scripts/HollywoodBowl/TheWeAreSoPoorSketch

Comments

I'm starting to think that the further you are from civilization, the more advanced your Internet connection. Most communities in Canada's Northwest Territories have city-wide wireless Internet.

Perhaps it's because it costs exponentially more to set up connections for 1 million people than for 10,000, so once it's set up there's less incentive to upgrade since it takes longer to earn back an investment.
That makes a lot of sense to me. Look at all those parts of the world which never had land line telephone service, but now have cell phones.

When I called AT&T (which is the phone company which serves my area) and asked the rep what were the chance of getting DSL in my area within the next year... He didn't *quite* laugh, but he very definitely said "zero".
this is why several fans tried cable broadband- they can reach where DSL cannot (it piggy backs off of your cable). No guarantees but they do have price wars (DSL vs. broadband).
I'm very pleased with the cable broadband. It's at a decent price, too. Of course, the price goes up after 12 months. Maybe by that time DSL will arrive in my area and they'll have price wars...
or you can switch back and forth each year taking advantage of the 'new customer' offers.
Exactly! If there's any competition by then, I'll definitely see what they have to offer.
I don't know about DSL availability in your area (except that my brother in Burbank has had it for years), but cable modem is quite a bit faster, from what I understand.

We've had Roadrunner for some years now, and it is superfast. (It carries our TV and phone service as well, and the phone portion of that is one low flat fee for all calls in the contiguous 48 US states and Canada--a HUGE improvement over the phone company.)
I remember you'd highly recommended Roadrunner, and I checked them out first, but their service ends a few miles to the west of where I live. (And Earthlink's service ends a few miles to the north, and AT&T's service ends 15,000 feet away...)

I got the bundled package - cable modem, phone service and TV. The cable company is supposed to be sending me a booklet explaining all the phone features. I *believe* the phone service is flat fee, just like yours. I'll find out soon.

So how's by you? {{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}
I remember you'd highly recommended Roadrunner, and I checked them out first, but their service ends a few miles to the west of where I live. (And Earthlink's service ends a few miles to the north, and AT&T's service ends 15,000 feet away...)

Sheesh...that is weird! What, did they decide your city was to be a dead spot? That makes NO sense. It's not like you're in the middle of the desert or something.

I got the bundled package - cable modem, phone service and TV. The cable company is supposed to be sending me a booklet explaining all the phone features. I *believe* the phone service is flat fee, just like yours. I'll find out soon.

Sounds great, though! I wish we had more than one cable company to choose from! How come there's no competition? That sucks.

So how's by you? {{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}

Good! Just had some busy days after we got back from vacation. Will answer that email, I promise. Hoping to get my almost-done F/K story done first. You know how it is.... :) {{{{{{hugs}}}}} back!!!
>>>Sheesh...that is weird! What, did they decide your city was to be a dead spot? That makes NO sense. It's not like you're in the middle of the desert or something.

I am completely baffled by this...! Like you said, it's not like I'm in the middle of the desert. Now, a friend of mine, living out in Riverside, can only get dialup, and only 28K. But she's in *Riverside* and I'm in Los Angeles county.

>>>Sounds great, though! I wish we had more than one cable company to choose from! How come there's no competition? That sucks.

Aren't all cable companies monopolies in their area? It sure works that way in California. Their only competition are the "dish network" people.

>>>So how's by you? {{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}

Good! Just had some busy days after we got back from vacation. Will answer that email, I promise. Hoping to get my almost-done F/K story done first. You know how it is.... :) {{{{{{hugs}}}}} back!!!

Good luck with the story, and tell me all about your vacation in your email...!
Isn't it amazing how people view things from their corner of the world? :-)

Now you'll never go back to dial-up!
It's so cool to be able to go to Youtube and watch vids without having to wait for half an hour for them to load up. And I just discovered AOL has whole UNCLE episodes for viewing!
each fandom seems to have its own preferred hangout zone, some more expected than others. The Chicago slash fandom, last I heard, was stuck on Ff.Net, of all places. My attempts to get them to move to LJ fell flat on the face.

The weird part is that the lack of K/S on LJ has nothing to do with K/S FANS not being on LJ, because most of the time when I post a story to my LJ and yahoo lists at the same time, I get way more responses to the LJ post than to the yahoo one.
Of all places, indeed! FF.net can be useful for some things though. A friend of mine spends most of her fannish time there because she tends to get into movie fandoms. A movie comes out, people get fannishly passionate for about six months, write lots of fic, and move on. It's the perfect venue for her stories. She usually writes a couple of stories per movie fandom, and then the next fandom comes along, and she's right there with it.

>>>The weird part is that the lack of K/S on LJ has nothing to do with K/S FANS not being on LJ, because most of the time when I post a story to my LJ and yahoo lists at the same time, I get way more responses to the LJ post than to the yahoo one.

I gotta get to work on that kirkspock community! I still have no idea how to pretty it up. People gave me advice, but I must be stupid, because when I tried to follow the advice it didn't work. All I want to do is have a nice CGA top banner of some kind, and pretty gold and blue colors for the theme. Any idea how I can do this? Do I have to have a paid account?
Oh, it gets worse. I have Yahoogroups (most very active ... in fact just yesterday, a friend and I were educating someone about "having to pay for fan fic" ... groan), the LJ and a MySpace page. I thought I was quite up-to-date until my niece looked at me askance and said, "Yahoogroups, My Space? ... Aunt Mel, that's so Y2K."

Apparently, there's some real-time posting phenomenon that isn't chat but is still immediate. I don't know any more -- I'm too terrified to ask.
>>>Oh, it gets worse. I have Yahoogroups (most very active ... in fact just yesterday, a friend and I were educating someone about "having to pay for fan fic" ... groan)

Back in the old days...

There was a huge kerfuffle in metafandom awhile back because someone got hysterical about the very concept of fanzines. Some people posted some great replies.

>>>the LJ and a MySpace page. I thought I was quite up-to-date until my niece looked at me askance and said, "Yahoogroups, My Space? ... Aunt Mel, that's so Y2K."

Oi! Now, I do believe that MySpace didn't exist in the 20th century, so I think her pejorative was inaccurate. How about, "That's so *this morning*"...?!

>>>Apparently, there's some real-time posting phenomenon that isn't chat but is still immediate. I don't know any more -- I'm too terrified to ask.

Hmm. Well, there's a scheduled panel at Escapade about some tech I've never heard of, so maybe that's it? I'll probably catch up with whatever it is in another year or three...

Yahoo groups versus LJ

In the year 2000, when I was extremely active in the Doyle/Glenn Quinn fandom (Angel), most of the action was at Yahoo! groups and at independent websites. At one time I was subscribed to literally hundreds of Yahoo! groups, using several Yahoo! IDs. By 2003 or so, LJ was the place "where the action is," and I am down to just a few Yahoo! groups now.

I've never heard the phrase "that's so Y2K" before. I love it!

Re: Ramble:

>>>I'm going to link to this post at sv_ledger, if that's alright with you?

Sure thing!

>>>It's really interesting, the different fannish spaces, and how ignorant/unaware some of us of the spaces we don't inhabit.

And it keeps getting more complex all the time....

>>>I think when I first found fandom (fall 2003), a lot of fen had already made their home at lj.

I think that's when a lot of people began making their migration over to LJ.

I got into fandom in 1975, and I guess one of the things about getting older - or, perhaps, having been involved in fandom for three decades - is that the year 2003 and the whole LJ phenomenon still seems so incredibly *new* to me.

>>>I found both yahoo groups and lj confusing to begin with, but while I learnt my way around lj, yahoo groups never really clicked with me, and I stopped joining them.

I still do prefer yahoo groups for fannish conversation. YG always seemed to me to be the internet equivalent of going to a fan party or a slash convention, where lots of people are having all sorts of interesting conversations, but on YG you don't miss out on anything. LJ seems more personal, more the equivalent of a one-on-one conversation. But I get those in private email, so it's been hard for me to truly find my way in LJ.

On YG, I used to get it all - fic, fan conversations, story discussions, etc. I felt that I was a part of a community. It was relatively easy in YG - if time consuming - to keep up with what was going on, to have a good overview of what was going on in my particular fandoms.

LJ, at least when I joined, seemed very diffuse, hard to navigate, and all-over-the-map. Instead of 50 authors posting URLS to their new fic on various YGs, suddenly the only way to keep up with their work was to friend 50 different people, and read their LJs in the hopes that they'd occasionally post fic. That was exponentially more time-consuming; there was no way I could keep up, and as a consequence, I've felt somewhat distanced from fandom.

One thing I absolutely hated about usegroups was the thread structure. YG seemed such a huge improvement over that. So when I saw LJ used the oldfashioned thread structure, I went gaaah! I thought we were past that...!

I'm flirting with some new fandoms, and I understand the LJ fannish experience is much more organized these days - communities, newsletters, etc.

>>>I dunno, it's kind of a little bit sad to me that there are all these fen out there in separated fannish spaces that I will never interact with.

It just amazes me to think that, more and more, there will be whole fannish communities who have never even heard of each other...
I joined YG and LJ at the same time but YG never clicked with me because it was too... disorganized. That makes sense to me. >.>

Eljay however, I love and am addicted to.

Haven't gotten a MySpace. Mainly because my fandom involvements haven't extended to MySpace/haven't heard about it etc. Eljay is great cos I can access majority of my fandom stuff on it.
>>>I joined YG and LJ at the same time but YG never clicked with me because it was too... disorganized. That makes sense to me.

Fascinating! I've had the opposite experience. When fandoms were concentrated on Yahoo (or in the zine world), I felt that I was a part of a community. It was relatively easy in YG - if time consuming - to keep up with what was going on, to have a good overview of what was going on in my particular fandoms.

LJ, at least when I joined, seemed very diffuse, hard to navigate, and all-over-the-map. Instead of 50 authors posting URLS to their new fic on various YGs, suddenly the only way to keep up with their work was to friend 50 different people, and read their LJs in the hopes that they'd occasionally post fic. That was exponentially more time-consuming; there was no way I could keep up, and as a consequence, I've felt somewhat distanced from fandom.

I'm flirting with some new fandoms, and I understand the LJ fannish experience is much more organized these days - communities, newsletters, etc. I did join a couple of fic communities, but they remind me of the YG "fic lists" - i.e., lists only for posting fic, and not for general conversation. I want it all - the fic, the feedback, and the general conversation. But LJ's thread structure is offputting. I do read comments on posts, but it's frustrating not to know how the conversation progresses from that point on*, and conversations do seem to peter out fairly quickly.

* I had heard you could "tag" conversations you were interested in and have subsequent posts emailed directly to you. I tried this, but for some reason it didn't work. So clearly I didn't understand the directions.

I expect if my new fannish flirtations progress beyond one night stands, I'll learn a lot more about how LJ is currently organized.
Interesting post! (here from metafandom) On one hand, I like decentralization; it helps make sure fandom stays available if (heavens forfend!) LJ or Yahoo Groups or fanfic.net were to shut down. So keeping all our fannish eggs in one basket is bad.

On the other hand, I like the way I can use Firefox and Start Tabs to access everything on a daily basis. So aggregation is good! And so is decentralization, because it lets people tailor their fannish access.
>>>Interesting post! (here from metafandom) On one hand, I like decentralization; it helps make sure fandom stays available if (heavens forfend!) LJ or Yahoo Groups or fanfic.net were to shut down. So keeping all our fannish eggs in one basket is bad.

Very good point. You could say we're like the grass that grows through the cracks in the pavement; we'll find a way through, no matter what.

>>>On the other hand, I like the way I can use Firefox and Start Tabs to access everything on a daily basis.

I think it's clear from my post I'm a bit behind on tech. :-) On the one hand, I've been online since 1995, and have been participating in online fandom from that point on. OTOH, I tend to stick with what works for me and rarely make changes unless there's a clear advantage to doing so.

What is Start Tabs? Firefox is a browser, right? Or an email program?

I get all my yahoo group mail emailed to me, some on individual email, some in digest form, so I don't have to bother accessing YG through their website. I don't care for the YG website interface at all; too slow. I don't have the patience for it.
Firefox is a browser program, one that lets you open many tabs in a single window vs lots of windows. So, for instance, you can browse LJ and when you see an interesting cut tag, you just "right-click open new tab", and said tab opens. But you stay in your own window and don't lose your place on your flist.

I tend to do everything via web these days, mostly because it allows me to work from any computer. I never have to worry about not having a file I need or an email I need whether I'm at work, at home, on R's computer, or in an internet cafe.

I agree on YG's web interface -- it's really kludgy and I rarely go there. But I do use their mail interface (in one of the many tabs I have open ....)

There's a <lj user="fandom_tech" lj that was intended to help fans use tech "better", but it hasn't really caught on. Probably because most fans are like you -- they have something that works and they don't see a huge benefit in making a change that might not work.
>>>Firefox is a browser program . . .But you stay in your own window and don't lose your place on your flist.

Ah! Now that is a very useful feature! I get so annoyed when I lose my place on my flist and have to go drilling down to find it again.

>>>I tend to do everything via web these days, mostly because it allows me to work from any computer. I never have to worry about not having a file I need or an email I need whether I'm at work, at home, on R's computer, or in an internet cafe.

I mostly access the net from home. Aside from occasionally needing to check email while I'm travelling, I haven't needed web access to anything else. And I'm still in the habit - a habit I started in 1995, when I had to pay for net access by the minute - of saving fic to my hard drive and reading offline. I'm sure glad I've carried on with that, as so much fic disappears off the net these days, like so many soap bubbles.

>>>I agree on YG's web interface -- it's really kludgy

Truer words...!

>>>There's a <lj user="fandom_tech" lj that was intended to help fans use tech "better", but it hasn't really caught on. Probably because most fans are like you -- they have something that works and they don't see a huge benefit in making a change that might not work. Makes sense to me. I always like finding out what people are doing and what's out there, but there's a lot that doesn't apply to the way I access fandom on the net. But if it's a feature I like, I jump right in.
Thanks very much for the Firefox recommendations. I haven't had the chance to try it yet - it's the busy season at work - but Firefox sounds like it has a ton of features I'll really enjoy using. I've saved all of this information "for later".