catalenamara (catalenamara) wrote,

Escapade: Is Flocked the new black? Or, “hide everything” versus “be out there"

I recently attended the slash convention Escapade, and plan to post a few random thoughts on the panels I attended over the next few days. And I’m all excited about “Supernatural” and “Torchwood”; now to find some extra hours to immerse myself in canon...!

Here’s the program book description of “Is flocked the new black?” Is the flocked post the future of fan communication? Are we returning to the dark ages of closed lists, zines under the table, and “have to know someone”? More and more LJ posts are locked, communities are closed, and groups are invitation only. Is there a way to protect our RL selves (and our fannish selves), yet share our fannish commentary and fic? Where is our new comfort zone? And how do we keep track of all of this?”

The trends just keep rolling along, don’t they? Just a few years ago, there were panels at Escapade promoting making slash as public as possible. The producers of a Canadian television documentary about slash fandom attended Escapade and interviewed several fans. (Everyone attending the convention was informed about the filming in advance, and people could choose whether or not they wished to participate.) After the convention, there was a followup article about Escapade and slash fandom in the Los Angeles Times.

Judging from this particular panel at this year’s Escapade, the trend seems to be going in the other direction, with people Flocking their fic.

I’d heard of this trend, but wasn’t sure of the reason – or reasons. I’m used to people actively pimping their fandoms and reccing stories. So it baffled me to hear about people flocking fic, which has the result, intended or not, of hiding parts of their fandom from newbies.

I’m glad this panel was included on the Escapade schedule, as it was quite informative. I don’t know if it’s consensus or not, but what I took from the panel is that many people are doing this in an attempt to make slash fandom less accessible to the general public.

Quite the whipsaw reversal.

I wonder if the people who were promoting “be out there” with slash a few years ago have changed their minds? Or do they still feel the same way? Is this an entirely different set of fans with different concerns? And do opinions vary, depending on the fandom(s)? (It seemed to me many of the people attending this particular panel are in HP fandom. In that case, it certainly makes sense to keep certain aspects of HP fandom as far out of the public view as possible.)

There have always been many reasons to use pseudonyms and build layers of privacy between the mundane world and the fannish world; there has always been this tension between people who want to “go public” and people who want to stay very private. I’m occupying a somewhat middle ground. I’d like to see slash as accessible as possible to newbies, while still finding some way to keep out troublemakers.

Not an easy proposition, when technology can change in a nanosecond.

One question I wanted to ask, but was a bit tangential to the panel topic, is this:

People expressed a lot of fear that employers will find out about their LJs, or potential employers will review LJ (or MySpace) and be able to access personal information about them. I know there have been some well-publicized incidents of just this sort of thing happening. Example, that flight attendant who was posting info in her blog on behind-the-scenes stuff at her airline, and got fired because of it. But in every example I’ve heard about, the blogger revealed enough personal information in their blog to make it easy for them to track down.

But what about people who have *no* personal info in their LJ? Is it technically possible for “outsiders” to track them down, and, if so, is this something that would be quick and easy, or damned difficult?

I don’t understand the tech involved. For example:

Mary Jane Smith applies for a job. How does her employer connect Mary Jane Smith to her LJ identify of ILuvGuysBonking, if MJ has no personal identification whatsoever in her LJ?

Is there a means where a potential employer can do some kind of global background search of LJ that would reveal the RL names of people? Wouldn’t this require access to the credit card information for LJ users, and if so, can they do this without the permission of LJ? Would this mean they would have access to the personal info of *everyone* on LJ, not just their potential employee? Wouldn’t they need a subpoena for this?

If an employer is sophisticated enough to be vetting employees by checking them out in LJ, won’t they also realize many people flock posts? And if they have the means to track down someone’s identity on LJ, would they also have the means to disable flocking?

How does this all work? If anyone knows, could you enlighten me?

Just musing here and stepping away from fandom into the mundane world. Will the prevalence of blogging change the corporate mentality in a few years? When the current generation of kids who have posted pics of themselves in their underwear at drunken parties on MySpace join the work world, will it be common for everyone to have done exactly the same thing? Will all these potentially embarrassing posts and pictures be no big deal after all?

Now I’m flashing back to the late 90s, when a number of print fen were very paranoid about posting fic to the net at all. Zines seemed so much *safer*. Net fen, of course, felt the opposite. Back then, every slash convention had one or more “net vs. print” panels. Many net fen were convinced there were no dangers or concerns to posting slash to the net, and some of them were using their RL names. I remember wondering at the time how long it would take before something got invented that would shift the conversation in an entirely different direction.

And I’m thinking with amusement about the woman who, in the late 90s, berated me for leaving most of my Yahoo profile blank. She claimed that by not filling in all the requested, personal, RL information, I was “missing out on the whole internet experience.” Uh- no. I was quite happy with the internet experience I was already having, thank you very much. I’d already made the mistake, back in 1995, of including my city in my AOL profile. All that got me was some creepy guys IMing me, trying to pick me up. So I deleted that information right away…!

If anyone can answer my tech questions, that’d be great!
Tags: conventions

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