From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Blog for a Beer! How Has The Internet Changed Fandom?

First, congratulations to last week’s winner, Clint Harris, for his contributions to the Science vs. Fantasy discussion. Sorry for the delay in picking–along with this new Blog for a Beer comes some new stuff behind the scenes. The kinks, as they say, need working out. But we think we’ve got it now 🙂

Welcome to the newest installment of Blog for a Beer on this lovely Fantasy Friday. Every week we offer up a bloggy prompt and invite you to discuss and debate the topic. The comments will close at 11:59PM Pacific time Saturday and we’ll award $10 in beer (or sundae, if you’re a minor) money to the most interesting or entertaining contributor after that. Close out the weekend in style!

This week’s blogger is Jeremiah Tolbert, the creator of Dr. Roundbottom and frequent commenter around these parts.

How Has The Internet Changed Fandom?

I believe that the Internet has changed the way science fiction and fantasy fans meet and interact. But I can’t prove this, because I have never known a fandom outside of the Internet. I have read that in the olden days, fans traveled to things called conventions to meet and share interests (yes, I know some still do this today). They argued and debated not in online forums but in the pages of fanzines and the letters columns of various magazines. The glacial pace of such conversations! I shudder to think of it.

Today, we see almost weekly flare-ups and controversies in this thing called the blogosphere. New movements among writers appear almost as regularly, sometimes lingering (such as the Mundane SF manifesto). They burn bright, fast, and die down, it seems, just in time for the next major brouhaha. I think that’s the downside to this ease of communication. The Internet makes everything personal. Enemies are made quickly–but friends too. Perhaps not a unique trait of the medium, but a trait nonetheless.

I’d like to invite you to talk about the ways in which the internet has helped you connect with others and what communities you have formed or joined because of it. How does your corner of SF/F fandom use the tool? If you’re an elder statesperson, tell us what it was like before we could all jump in on a comment thread and hash out an issue in the course of a couple of days, instead of months. Tell us about the friends you have made but never seen in person. Or, if you prefer, tell us how the Internet has ruined everything.

What do you think is the future of genre fandom online? What else has changed? What could change? What are the problems that face us as a community? Are we even a community at all, or an amalgam of loosely connected groups, held together by the common readership of a handful of magazines and blogs? Where do we go from here?

Discussion is open until 11:59PM Pacific May 17th.

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