November 12, 2007
Looking back at FoE: Fan Cultures

Last year's panel on fan cultures was one of the greatest precursors to the direction this year's conference has taken. Our discussions on fan labor, cult media, and even the audience measurement panel will deal with issues that were first raised in last year's fan cultures panel, which we live-blogged here.

The audio from last year's panel is available here, and the video is available here.

Last year's panel featured Diane Nelson, president of Warner Premiere who has worked directly with franchises like Harry Potter; danah boyd, who is now a fellow at the Berkman Center at nearby Harvard University and a doctoral candidate at the School of Information at Berkeley; and Molly Chase, Executive Producer of Cartoon Network New Media.

The discussion touched on issues such as understanding who fans are, legal distinctions involving fair use and intellectual property, and understanding fandom. Below is an excerpt from our blogging of the event:

Molly said that fans often communicate and support things with grassroots movement because they want to encourage good behavior on the producer's behalf. "Fans have said that they want to reward Cartoon Network for what they've done," she said. "They are making a conscious effort to say thank you." And she says fans are motivated to this behavior because they want to encourage more good behavior from the producers. "Usually when fans contact you, either it is to say, 'I want more' or 'Here's all the reasons why you have destroyed what I love,'" she said. "To get unabashed, highly positive feedback, we understand that fans are saying they want more."

danah speaks to the idea of a misguided separate but equal policy, dividing adult users from child users, for instance. She also talked about viciousness within fandom and how to handle these situations when certain fans don not have the best of intentions at heart. Finding that balance between a collective environment and an anarchistic environment is not always easy.