owlmoose: (Default)
KJ ([personal profile] owlmoose) wrote2019-01-14 11:55 pm

Snowflake Challenge Day 14: Crystal Ball

Day 14: Talk about what you think the future holds for fandom.

That's not a small question, is it? Certainly not one with an easy answer. But it's one that's often on my mind, and especially now, given how it feels like fandom is at a crossroads of sorts. Not just because of the changes at Tumblr; although certainly a factor, I feel as though people have drifting away from Tumblr for awhile now, and different sites have been attempting to supplant Tumblr as a fannish platform for awhile now -- there was the Imzy experiment, and now Pillowfort seems to be giving it a go, although I don't have much confidence in them. The resurgence of Dreamwidth continues, and so far has seemed more successful than past efforts to lure folks here from Tumblr. But there are reasons to think that might not work out long term -- in this post, [personal profile] muccamukk suggests that the lack of active fannish communities makes it too hard for new fans to meet each other, and that's a legit concern. (h/t to [personal profile] snickfic for the link! I still need to read through the discussion, which at first glance looks really interesting.) I also think people are going to miss the ease of sharing, and the multimedia options that Tumblr provided. So while I imagine that there will still be some fandom activity on DW in five years, I don't know that it will become the one true fandom platform.

Inasmuch as fandom ever had one true platform. I suspect that LJ is the closest we ever came, but even LJ wasn't a good home for artists, vidders, and other multimedia folks. There's a reason Tumblr took off the way it did. If Tumblr had ever embraced fandom -- allowing friends lock, better blocking and filtering tools, follow lists, and other better ways to personalize the experience -- I don't think we'd have ever left. But Tumblr was alway hostile to the way that many fans prefer to interact, and disallowing adult content was the last straw. (Has any fannish platform ever truly survived an adult content ban to remain a primary hub for fandom? FF.net, LJ, Tumblr... I seem to recall that was also one reason for the exodus from Yahoo! Groups.) Meanwhile, AO3 and DW were built by fans, for fans, and although their backend models are quite different, the end result is similar. Neither platform will ever serve every fan's needs, but I doubt that's possible anyway.

If I have an in-five-years prediction, it's this: AO3 will remain a significant platform for fanfiction, and DW an important hub for personal journals and conversation, but at least one shiny new site will rise to take their place, at least for a little while. (Probably a platform we can't even imagine yet.) Meanwhile, fans will continue their retreat into "walled gardens" like Discord and Slack -- private spaces for private conversations. Part of me hates this trend, but I also entirely understand the appeal. Public spaces have grown more treacherous to navigate in recent years, and it can be nice to have a place to escape from it all.

For me, it comes down to this: when choosing a social media platform, the social is more important than the media. Different media platforms attract different types of community, to be sure, but if the community I want to be part of is on a particular platform, that's where I'll be. That's why I stuck with Tumblr as long as I did, and that's why I hang out on a private Slack, and that's why I'll be on DW and Twitter and even Facebook as long as people I care about are also there. And I don't think that's about to change any time soon.
zooey_glass: (OTW: Server party transform)

[personal profile] zooey_glass 2019-01-15 01:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Here via my network. Your comment on the 'walled garden' model of fandom makes me think that in some ways fandom might return to some early internet models. It's before my time, but I know quite a few people who got into fandom at a time when it was Usenet groups and IRC chats, where you needed to know the thing existed to even find it. And people did manage to find each other and to thrive and create communities. So that connection makes me feel optimistic that with the new low tech-savvy platforms like Slack, communities will find ways to stay strong and connected even if they are more private and underground than the recent years of the internet have accustomed us to.

I agree with your point about AO3. I wish it could find a way to host art and vids, though! I am achingly familiar with all the barriers there but it would be so wonderful to have the same preservation for them as for fic.
lassarina: (Far From Home)

[personal profile] lassarina 2019-01-17 02:48 am (UTC)(link)
This is a really good comment.

I'm seeing a lot of discussion around the wider internet (not just fandom) about getting off platforms like FB/Twitter/IG and returning to hosting one's own web space; maybe it's the circles I hang around at outside of DW, but I see a lot of people abruptly engaging in a way I haven't seen before with the idea that "if you aren't paying you are being sold" that underpins the big social networks.

So I wonder if the Discord/Slack thing is in fact the revival of IRC/Usenet and the rebuilding of web rings; I am old enough to remember those! (Let's not return to the days of "click on the apostrophe to get to the porn" though; those were awful from an accessibility standpoint and also from the "I'm impatient and you are constructing barriers to things I want, I will find them somewhere else" standpoint.)