Sixteen minutes of awesome

  • May. 24th, 2010 at 10:44 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
In [personal profile] rivkat 's most recent set of book reviews, she talks about a book about videotapes and copyright which discusses an awesome women's video chain letter project called Joanie 4 Jackie. You can find some selections from the video chain letters via Google search; and definitely check out Miranda July's video describing the project. Then draw sparkly hearts all over your screen.


crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
I was trapped in an office building with a couple dozen other people, all strangers. One of them took control of the group, who was willing to follow him, but he was reckless, didn't have a strategy, and endangered everybody. I think he ended up getting trapped in a stairwell and eaten by the zombies.

Someone else stepped up to lead, but focused on making decisions by consensus through interminable processes which kept breaking down as people turned on each other. I think they ended up getting thrown out of a window into the waiting arms of hungry zombies.

Somehow I ended up appointed the third leader. I came up with a plan to get us to safety, but everybody was still squabbling, so I bullied them all into following me. I used anything that worked -- insults, yelling, verbal abuse, physical threats -- until they went along with my plan, cowering all the way.

That was the worst part of the dream (the zombies weren't really that scary; they were mostly preoccupied with scavenging for Wiis and iPads). I was completely horrified at myself. Is that really my subconscious leadership style? 


Just a Video

  • May. 4th, 2010 at 9:03 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
I'm in the middle of reading Ethan Zuckerman's excellent ROFLcon talk, which introduced me to Kenya's Just a Band -- here's a fantastic video (directed by Jim Chuchu) of their song Usinibore (Don't Bore Me), which samples Daft Punk's Revolution 909:


2 multiplied by 10, plus 1 -- Romeo done

  • Apr. 9th, 2010 at 8:12 AM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
The following brought to you by a sudden rush of nostalgia for c. late 2001/early 2002 when I was constantly listening to So Solid Crew:

not an SPN commentary )


Mysteries of the OT3

  • Apr. 7th, 2010 at 1:12 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
This isn't a rant or even an opinion either way, just curiosity:

Is it just me, or have OT3s gotten much more popular & prominent in media fandom over the last couple of years? I'm thinking especially of White Collar and Leverage, but my vague impression is that they've become more mainstream across the board.

The ones that I'm most used to seeing mentioned are mainly of the "Two Men & a Woman" variety (with Legend of the Seeker's Richard/Kahlan/Cara being the only major exception that springs to mind). So I'm inclined to wonder whether the rise of OT3s partly represents a move within slash fandom to explore alternative approaches to canonical female love interests. Is that too simplistic? Are there other explanations of the OT3 boom (assuming I'm not just imagining it)? Or am I just not seeing the major "Three Men" or "Three Woman" or "Two Women & a Man" variants that are out there?

Just wondering!


Starbats? Scapebucks?

  • Mar. 24th, 2010 at 12:57 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
I hardly ever read fanfic these days, but skimming the comments to this post by [personal profile] hradzka gave me a sudden longing for an Aeryn Sun/Bruce Wayne barista AU that can never be.

That's almost as sad as when I realized that the staff at the Starbucks near my office, no matter how friendly and funny they were, would never quite live up to the standards set by Coffee Prince and so I shouldn't start inventing elaborate backstories and love triangles for them.


Zedd's Angels

  • Mar. 23rd, 2010 at 10:29 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
I've, um, accidentally started sampling a few episodes of Legend of the Seeker (call it a misplaced bout of Xena nostalgia, or just desperation for some genre entertainment until the new episodes of Doctor Who [!!!] start up).

And, okay, the show has its crack charms, but what it really makes me long for is a splashy film version starring Lucy Liu as Kahlan, Cameron Diaz as Cara, and of course Drew Barrymore as Richard.

Come on, just try to tell me that wouldn't be awesome, I dare you!


crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
Flow reprints a provocative essay by Michael Kackman. A few excerpts:

By saying that we need to reinvoke melodrama as the constitutive force behind much of what we call quality television, it’s not just to remind critics of the culturally low form that embodies much of what they like about current tv. That is not, in itself, much of a point – and I suspect that most of the scholars embracing the narrative complexity of quality tv would be quick to point out that its antecedents lie in soaps and other “low” serial forms (Mittell certainly does). More importantly, though, I’d like to suggest that our ability even to identify narrative complexity and see it as a marker of quality television is itself an act not of aesthetic, but cultural, recognition. Complexity isn’t just something we find in a text; it’s something we bring to a text – and our recognition of certain characters as meaningfully conflicted, their narrative and moral dilemmas agonizingly or beguilingly puzzling, is a cultural identification. I’d like to see us talk more about melodrama and contemporary quality television not just as an ameliorative, cathartic symbolic resolution of social anxieties, but as a mechanism for the registering of political dreams....

Lost has become an idealized ur-text of television’s aesthetic possibilities, with a complex mythology interwoven with a serialized character drama, all embraced by a knowing, literate fan community. We might productively read the gendered politics of television scholarship against the show’s central narrative preoccupation with paternity, patriarchy, and masculinity....

While much recent television scholarship has seemingly moved beyond the field’s roots in feminist media criticism, it often does so by re-embracing the gendered hierarchies that made the medium an object of critical and popular scorn. And while “quality television” is a complicated aggregation of industry discourses, aesthetic norms, audience practices and politics, it’s also, at least historically, a political demand – a kind of Jamesonian hermeneutic dream of being… different. I’d like to urge some skepticism about celebrating television’s new golden age of aesthetic quality. By becoming “legitimate,” we risk eliding our field’s history of politically and culturally invested scholarship. And as the characters of Lost might yet one day learn, the search for legitimacy entails great cost, while illegitimacy has intriguing rewards.

There's a lot of interesting stuff in here. I was thinking about how LJ/DW-based media fandom is one arena which seems to have largely resisted the last decade's embrace of the new "quality television" canon of complex serialized narratives, with the exception of Battlestar Galactica (at least, for U.S. media/television studies). Of course, part of that is due to less overlap with SFF (unlike the '90s, where The X-Files and Buffy had feet firmly planted in both the quality tv & genre camps).

But I'm still surprised how few posts I've seen about the last season of LOST, and wonder about how the gendering of LJ/DW media fandom intersects with Kackman's argument about the risk that the aesthetic turn pushes television studies away from its feminist foundations.


#Fallow Friday

  • Feb. 12th, 2010 at 1:46 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
Eric Goldman, Catching up with Wikipedia -- a round up of links w/commentary about the state of Wikipedia as an institution (and, by proxy, poster child for au courant buzzwords like 'collective intelligence'): "I remain baffled by the folks who are so enraptured by Wikipedia's mystique that they believe the site will defy gravity. Whatever you take away from the data points I cite in this post, I think it's undeniable that Wikipedia is changing in material ways. Bright minds might disagree about whether those changes are good or bad."

Keith Hart, The social meaning of the power law -- an anthropologist's take on the au courant statistical pattern (e.g. think "the Long Tail" etc.) anchoring a lot of 'the new science of networks'-type arguments: "Does the recent rise to prominence of the power-law distribution, with its premise of extreme inequality, tell us something about our collective experience of society today?"

Fred Stutzman, Google Buzz as Experience Pattern: "Google’s has had to walk a very fine line with how they 'reveal' what they know about your social circle. Realistically, Google sits on behavioral social network data that is of equal value to what is created in Facebook or Myspace. Mining our web search patterns, our chat and email logs, and our travels across the web with analytics, Google knows who we connect with. The challenge Google has always faced is putting this information into play in a way that doesn’t freak everyone out."


Google Toolbar, you're creeping me out

  • Feb. 5th, 2010 at 12:13 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
Spontaneously appearing at the top of the browser window during a Google search:

Google would like to have access to your location. The Google Toolbar will periodically use the network to keep your location up to date. Learn more

Buttons on the side invited me to Share my location (in bold) or Don't share (unbolded), with a check box to Remember for this site.

According to RWW, location is hot, but also murky and contested.

I think I'll trust myself to keep my location up to date (at least until I start regularly passing out and waking up in strange beds or foreign cities). And I'll seriously consider Lifehacker's tips for getting Google Toolbar's features without the toolbar.


Sounds familiar

  • Jan. 25th, 2010 at 4:25 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
danah boyd, Public by Default, Private when Necessary:

What teens care about is the ability to control information as it flows and to have the information necessary to adjust to a situation when information flows too far or in unexpected ways.  When teens argue that they produce content that is "public by default, private when necessary," they aren't arguing that privacy is disappearing.  Instead, they are highlighting that both privacy AND publicity have value.  Privacy is important in certain situations - to not offend, to share something intimate, or to exclude certain people. Yet, publicity can also be super useful. It's about being present in social situations, about chance encounters, about obtaining social status.

I keep my pseudonymous journal mostly public with the occasional private entry, and searchable by Google et al. I'm not looking for a lot of traffic -- I like the sense of writing for a small audience, since it means I can be pretty informal and assume that people reading generally acquire some context of where I'm coming from, so I don't need to spell everything out or get bogged down in qualifications.

I also like to keep enough of an open house that I occasionally meet new people, and sometimes get a comment back from someone who's post I've linked to. But not so open that I use my real name or disclose potentially identifying details about myself in public posts -- I use Facebook differently than LiveJournal/Dreamwidth.

So, yeah -- for teens, and fandom, and all kinds of groups, full participation requires a foundation of granular options for both privacy and publicity.


James Cameron's Rorschach test

  • Jan. 7th, 2010 at 12:32 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
I haven't seen the movie, but I've gotten hooked on reading responses to Avatar. Some recent ones:

Erik Davis sounding very Erik Davis (Aya Avatar: Drink the Jungle Juice):

With its floating Roger Deanscapes and hallucinogenic flora, the manifest world of Avatar instead spoke another truth: that the jungle pantheism that now pervades the psychoactive counterculture has gone thoroughly mainstream. Of course, noble savage narratives of ecological balance and shamanic wisdom have been haunting the Rousseau-mapped outback of the western mind for centuries.

k-punk sounding very k-punk ("They Killed Their Mother": Avatar as Ideological Symptom):

What is foreclosed in the opposition between a predatory technologised capitalism and a primitive organicism, evidently, is the possibility of a modern, technologised anti-capitalism. It is in presenting this pseudo-opposition that Avatar functions as an ideological symptom.

Bob Rehak sounding very Bob Rehak (Watching Avatar):

Cameron’s nifty trick, though, has always been to frame his visual and practical effects in ways that lend them a crucial layer of believability. I’m not talking about photorealism, that unreachable horizon (unreachable precisely because it’s a moving target, a fantasized attribute we hallucinate within the imaginary body of cinema: as Lacan would put it, in you more than you).

Maybe that's the true genius of the movie -- it's a magic mirror which reflects back what so many different people bring to it, an enchanted well that so many different people can drink from.


I get email

  • Dec. 28th, 2009 at 1:31 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
Recently, you heard from me about our 2009 accomplishments and plans for the year ahead. 
This is a critically important moment!

No, I'm not joking. Yes, there's a long, hard road still ahead.
That’s why I’m challenging you today—by offering to double your gift—to be
as generous as possible.

In a tough economy, deciding where to give is more difficult than ever.
Here's a year-end, tax-deductible opportunity to
support an effective organization with a proven track record.
Please help us to continue saving lives.

Your participation at this point in history is very important, and I'd like to send you some
free gifts to show our appreciation.
Please send in your gift today!

Thank you!
We owe the deepest debt of gratitude
Thank you very much,
Thank you so much for all that you do.


Wait -- 'Skadoosh'?

  • Oct. 2nd, 2009 at 3:39 PM
crypto: actor glynn turman (glynn turman)
Thought for the day:

But key to the rhetorical strategy of such “reality” programming is to take you beyond surfaces by cultivating a formal literacy and technical proficiency, so you can perform as “critic”/commentator alongside those in the show.

(Matthew Ferrari, Pow! Ooomph! Skadoosh!: Combat Aesthetics and Intermediality*, FlowTV)

He's writing specifically about Mixed Martial Arts, but he might as well be talking about professional wrestling -- or, perhaps, television sports in general? And what about judged reality TV competitions, like So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol and Project Runway**? Or for that matter, The Hills....

* No, I don't know what 'intermediality' means, and couldn't work it out from context in the essay.

** I've been casually watching Project Runway and I have to confess, I have yet to absorb the "formal literacy and technical proficiency" stuff. At least, I usually have trouble distinguishing the best dresses from the worst ones. I often feel like a bad student -- sorry, Heidi Klum! Don't give up on disciplining my taste!


T. Rex, meet Olivia Benson

  • Sep. 16th, 2009 at 4:17 PM
crypto: (sarah looks left)
I'm only halfway through "Sex detectives: Law & Order: SVU's fans, critics, and characters investigate lesbian desire", in the latest issue of Transformative Works & Cultures, by girlslash guru Julie Levin Russo (aka media studies' answer to Nancy Drew).

Still I feel confident in reccing it (along with Suzanne Scott's article that I linked to yesterday), with one caveat -- it reads even better in conjunction with today's Dinosaur Comics.


Your friendship means the most to me

  • Sep. 16th, 2009 at 11:31 AM
crypto: actor glynn turman (glynn turman)
I've been crossposting to LiveJournal and Dreamwidth for a few months now, and haven't figured out what, if anything, to do with the comments.

Dreamwidth now allows you to insert a link in the LJ post to its DW version, complete with number of comments posted on DW, but unfortunately it's not reciprocal. Alternately I could disable comments on one site and steer them to the other, to centralize discussion.

This isn't an issue with most of my posts, so I've put off doing anything about it, but occasionally I'll post something where a discussion emerges on one or both sites. I've found myself in replies referring people to a comment thread on the other site a few times recently.

Looking through my last few months of posts, and counting only those which have at least 10 comments on at least one site (though usually about half of them would be my replies), comments on Dreamwidth version edged out comments on LiveJournal by about a 5 to 4 margin (454 to 369). Though I'd guess that if I went through those same posts and tallied up number of commenters (anyone who's commented at least once), LiveJournal would come out ahead.

So should I do anything differently?

Poll #1274 Comment preferences
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 22

Should I centralize comments on DW and disable them on LJ?

View Answers

Sure, works for me
15 (68.2%)

No, please don't - I prefer to comment on LJ
1 (4.5%)

But why? Two discussions are better than one!
2 (9.1%)

Text - such a primitive interface! I do my commenting via telepathy.
0 (0.0%)

I care more about convenient links to the crossposted entry -- can you get on that?
4 (18.2%)

If you're crossposting, what's your experience been with comments?

View Answers

I centralize on one site, and have no regrets
9 (47.4%)

I centralize on one site, and I'm paying the price in less discussions
0 (0.0%)

I cross-link the DW post in the LJ entry, and it's been a positive experience
1 (5.3%)

I cross-link, but mainly for my own convenience - I'm not sure anyone else cares
4 (21.1%)

I don't cross-link or centralize. I do however recycle and watch my cholesterol.
5 (26.3%)


Who's afraid of ancillary content models?

  • Sep. 15th, 2009 at 5:58 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
A new issue of Transformative Works and Cultures is up. I've only read/skimmed a few of the articles so far, but the one I was most drawn to is Suzanne Scott's "Repackaging fan culture: the regifting of ancillary content models." In her definition:

Ancillary content models, which are typically constructed around television series with cult or fannish appeal and located on the show's official (network-sponsored) Web site, offer audiences a glut of "free" narrative and behind-the-scenes content in the form of Webisodes, Web comics, blogs, video blogs, episodic podcasts, and so on (note 1). Positioned precariously between official/commercial transmedia storytelling systems (Jenkins 2006:93–130) and the unofficial/gifted exchange of texts within fandom, ancillary content models downplay their commercial infrastructure by adopting the guise of a gift economy, vocally claiming that their goal is simply to give fans more—more "free" content, more access to the show's creative team. The rhetoric of gifting that accompanies ancillary content models, and the accompanying drive to create a community founded on this "gifted" content, is arguably more concerned with creating alternative revenue streams for the failing commercial model of television than it is with fostering a fan community or encouraging fan practices. Grappling with the growing problem of time-shifting, ancillary content models create a "digital enclosure" (Andrejevic 2007:2–3) within which they can carefully cultivate and monitor an alternative, "official" fan community whose participatory value is measured by its consumption of advertisement-laced ancillary content.

Sounds grim, right? And let's face it, some of these sites are pretty grim. Last spring, I stumbled across an "official fan site" for The Sarah Connor Chronicles, hosted on Fox Television's website but outsourced to some specialized "official fan site in a box" web company whose name I've forgotten. It was all very modular -- here's your episode recaps, here's your character guide, here's your discussion boards, here's your wiki, here's where you can post your fan fiction and fan videos. The whole thing looked pretty ugly, and felt like something of a fannish ghost town. There were people there, but it didn't seem particularly thriving or vibrant, as communities go.

return of the cultural dupe )

But outside of these "ancillary content models" there are tons of fans who seek out some kind of interaction or engagement or common space with the corporate and creative powers that be -- through cons, and the blogs of showrunners and producers and writers, and Twitter, and other proliferating means. That's certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but it's not exactly false consciousness either, and it's common in types of fandom where there's less of a gulf and more of a continuum between "fan" and "pro/PTB" like comics and science fiction books.

So I'd rather complicate the "threat or menace?" approach to official fan sites and related corporate close encounters of the fannish kind, or at least restore an account of fans' myriad agency, pleasures, and investments in those spaces and interactions.


What's the Matter With Cultural Studies?

  • Sep. 14th, 2009 at 4:34 PM
crypto: (sarah looks ahead)
A really interesting essay by Michael Bérubé in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I don't know enough to evaluate his arguments, but I'd love to hear how it reads from a fan studies and/or media studies perspective. A few excerpts:

...In the 1960s, Williams and E.P. Thompson redrew the map of British labor history, and in the 1970s, the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies issued a series of brilliant papers on mass media and popular culture that culminated in the prediction of the rise of Thatcherism—a year before Margaret Thatcher took office. Since its importation to the United States, however, cultural studies has basically turned into a branch of pop-culture criticism.

Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (1978), the Birmingham collection that predicted the British Labour Party's epochal demise, is now more than 30 years old. In that time, has cultural studies transformed the disciplines of the human sciences? Has cultural studies changed the means of transmission of knowledge? Has cultural studies made the American university a more egalitarian or progressive institution? Those seem to me to be useful questions to ask, and one useful way of answering them is to say, sadly, no. Cultural studies hasn't had much of an impact at all....

The result is that cultural studies now means everything and nothing; it has effectively been conflated with "cultural criticism" in general, and associated with a cheery "Pop culture is fun! " approach. Anybody writing about The Bachelor or American Idol is generally understood to be "doing" cultural studies, especially by his or her colleagues elsewhere in the university. In a recent interview, Stuart Hall, a former director of the Birmingham Centre and still the most influential figure in cultural studies, gave a weary response to this development, one that speaks for itself: "I really cannot read another cultural-studies analysis of Madonna or The Sopranos."...


Questions, I've got questions

  • Sep. 10th, 2009 at 1:10 PM
crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
So whose idea was it to chat up the Supernatural season premiere on Twitter by making #luciferiscoming a trending topic? Was that some kind of consensus alternative when nothing on the first slate of #deaniscrying, #samisshirtless, #brothersarehugging, #castielismycopilot, and #ofcoursebobbyisstillgrumpy got a majority of votes? Or is there some kind of fan campaign to market the show to Satanists?

And hey, while I'm asking -- you know that thing where someone makes an LJ post, and then one or more people comment, "This."? Is that just an LJ/fandom/et al. thing, or does it happen on other kinds of blogs? When did it start -- and more importantly, where will it end?

And another thing! The whole "Signal Boost" in subject lines when you're linking to something -- where did that come from? Is it a Firefly thing? Just how many of my pet peeves can I blame on Joss Whedon?


crypto: Amy Pond (Default)
TorrentFreak: isoHunt Launches 'Social' BitTorrent Site

It's called -- from isoHunt's announcement:

How is Hexagon different? The biggest conceptual change is everything is shared within groups you can join and create yourself. These groups can be public, based on interests or made by independent bands, film makers, game studios, etc. for promotional purposes. They can also be made private, so you can very easily and comfortably invite your friends to a private group for sharing your private videos and such. You can do this on Youtube and similar sites, but with BitTorrent, you can share any type of file and not only video, and there's no restriction on file format or size (as much as you can seed). In Hexagon groups, you can also share both torrents as well as flash videos so you get the best of both worlds. This blend of BT and flash video sharing is an unique first.

Sounds perfect, right? Stream or download, complete with privacy options. Check out how they've worded their copyright policies viz. DMCA compliance too.


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