cesperanza reblogged your post:

I’ll go even further – who ever said that…

I like this addition, because you’re right, and I think historically fan scholarship has itself used ‘community’ as a specific political move (and ‘subculture’ as well); that said, it’s also – rightly or wrongly – lent itself to a kind of sense of warm-and-fuzzy togetherness that I’m questioning the usefulness of at this juncture. When the only tangible thing throwing us together is love of a common thing, I’m not sure that ‘community’ holds as the glue that binds us together – I’m not convinced we’re bound in any meaningful way at that point, I guess – particularly when we consider the very different places from which we all arrive at this one point of loving the thing. There’s room, I’m sure, for community to remain as a viable way of thinking about fandom(s), but my own scholarly interests lie in pushing what we do in different directions to see what else happens, particularly in the context of the really global scale of media fandom today.

OT perhaps but this makes me wonder if the medium doesn’t influence the formation, or at least the concept, of community. Was “community” a more tangible entity in yahoo groups than on tumblr? As a text technologist my interest is in the cross section of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” but on the some token, the technology in question has a real affect on human communication — less so, I’ve found, than generally assumed but a real phenomenon regardless.

More subjectively, I felt that community was more cohesive in regards to shared experiences on livejournal; one aspect I don’t experience as much on tumblr is “stumbling over”  and building up relationships with people in my fandom who have more in common with me than just the media we love. Is that just me? Or a result of the medium of tumblr, which is built upon the principle of contact points vs. “deep community” (I’m sure there is a more accurate term but I don’t know it).


YES. I think that this idea really only really starts to become viable in a meaningful sense in the context of fandom as experienced on social media platforms such as Twitter/Tumblr, and even FB (to a lesser extent, but a number Japanese Sherlock fans – to cite an exceedingly small example – are pretty active, fannishly, there; they also tend to be far more active on Twitter than Tumblr, yet still interact across language and geographical borders). You could probably push the idea of LJ as… but, no, as you say, there really seems to be something that’s pretty specific to this more widely disseminated kind of social media-centered (ha! centered) fandom; my experience on LJ, too, was more of ‘community’ than here…

Thanks so much for this!! More food for thought. 😀

The platform absolutely has an influence.  Information managers and user experience designers are very aware of and familiar with this.  For example, a Yahoo usergroup is a group that people specifically seek out to join.  It’s contained within a bounded area—the flow of information into and out of a Yahoo group happens only with a conscious choice and an effort on the part of members.  It has threaded conversations, so that people can easily, visibly carry on extended dialogues.  It is a community in every sense, as the people who belong to it keep returning to this area and get to know one another, talk to each other, share ideas, decide whether they like each other or not.  

Tumblr, on the other hand, does not foster community at all.  There are not groups to join.  You can have many people following a single blog, but that’s akin to having many people watching CNN, and you wouldn’t call that a community.  Tumblr is specificallly designed so that posts and information do not stay contained.  In fact, we have no capacity to keep them contained even if we’d like to.  Pretty much by definition, a post that gets reblogged enough crosses boundaries and ends up before audiences it was never meant for—often losing context and some of its meaning and impact as it does so.

Communities form due to Tumblr, but mostly the communities form outside Tumblr, as people who wish to associate more get together on chats and things.  Tumblr’s role in community building is more or less coincidental, as people make laborious use of private messaging features and go to the effort of reblogging in a way that preserves a conversational thread in order to have two-way communication.

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