Survey Results: Fan Platform Use over Time
We also asked participants what their primary fandom was for each platform they used. Based on a pretty simple analysis (most popular words!), here are the top five fandoms from each platform:

Usenet: Star Trek, Buffy, X-Files, Star Wars, Sailor Moon

Email Lists: Harry Potter, Star Trek, Buffy, X-Files, Gundam Wing

Messageboards: Harry Potter, Buffy, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Sailor Moon

Fandom-Specific Archives: Harry Potter, Buffy, Stargate, X-Files, Doctor Who

Fanfiction.net: Harry Potter, Naruto, Buffy, Star Wars, Gundam Wing

Livejournal: Harry Potter, Supernatural, Stargate, Doctor Who, Merlin

DeviantArt: Harry Potter, Naruto, Kingdom Hearts, Supernatural, Final Fantasy

Dreamwidth: Harry Potter, Supernatural, Marvel, Stargate, RPF

Archive of Our Own: Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Teen Wolf

Tumblr: Marvel, Star Wars, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Teen Wolf

Twitter: Star Wars, Supernatural, Marvel, RPF, Yuri on Ice
2 days ago
Drug binding (The Last Psychiatrist)
Let's review the idea of sequential binding. A drug with affinity for multiple receptors doesn't bind to all of them simultaneously, but rather sequentially, starting with the system for which it has the greatest affinity. Eventually, this maxes out, and it goes and adds the receptor system for which it has the second greatest affinity.

Once it has maxed out a receptor system, pushing the dose doesn't get you any more of that effect (or side effects.) You don't get less, but you don't get any more.
health  science  * 
9 days ago
"Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer
I don’t want to be evil. I want to be helpful.
21 days ago
Good and Bad Procrastination
So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well. There are three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, I'd argue, is good procrastination.

That's the "absent-minded professor," who forgets to shave, or eat, or even perhaps look where he's going while he's thinking about some interesting question. His mind is absent from the everyday world because it's hard at work in another.

That's the sense in which the most impressive people I know are all procrastinators. They're type-C procrastinators: they put off working on small stuff to work on big stuff.

What's "small stuff?" Roughly, work that has zero chance of being mentioned in your obituary. It's hard to say at the time what will turn out to be your best work (will it be your magnum opus on Sumerian temple architecture, or the detective thriller you wrote under a pseudonym?), but there's a whole class of tasks you can safely rule out: shaving, doing your laundry, cleaning the house, writing thank-you notes—anything that might be called an errand.

Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.

Good in a sense, at least. The people who want you to do the errands won't think it's good. But you probably have to annoy them if you want to get anything done. The mildest seeming people, if they want to do real work, all have a certain degree of ruthlessness when it comes to avoiding errands.

Some errands, like replying to letters, go away if you ignore them (perhaps taking friends with them). Others, like mowing the lawn, or filing tax returns, only get worse if you put them off. In principle it shouldn't work to put off the second kind of errand. You're going to have to do whatever it is eventually. Why not (as past-due notices are always saying) do it now?

The reason it pays to put off even those errands is that real work needs two things errands don't: big chunks of time, and the right mood. If you get inspired by some project, it can be a net win to blow off everything you were supposed to do for the next few days to work on it. Yes, those errands may cost you more time when you finally get around to them. But if you get a lot done during those few days, you will be net more productive.

In fact, it may not be a difference in degree, but a difference in kind. There may be types of work that can only be done in long, uninterrupted stretches, when inspiration hits, rather than dutifully in scheduled little slices. Empirically it seems to be so. When I think of the people I know who've done great things, I don't imagine them dutifully crossing items off to-do lists. I imagine them sneaking off to work on some new idea.

Conversely, forcing someone to perform errands synchronously is bound to limit their productivity. The cost of an interruption is not just the time it takes, but that it breaks the time on either side in half. You probably only have to interrupt someone a couple times a day before they're unable to work on hard problems at all.
*  personal 
27 days ago
"Four-Point Affective Calibration" by Bogi Takacs
I’m sure the people in the lab next door chose me for this assignment because they have these ridiculous stereotypes that being neuroatypical makes me better at understanding aliens. But you know, one tiny part of that is true: I want to talk to aliens, because I’m fed up with humans sometimes. When I was compared to space aliens as a kid, I probably internalized the wrong message—I decided that aliens must be really cool.
4 weeks ago
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
Which brings us to the basic concept, beloved of linguistic professors and cultural studies mavens, of the marked and the unmarked. The unmarked is that which is recognized without the need for any identifying tag. The marked requires identifiers. Thus we have people (unmarked males) and women (people, yes, but in need of an extra identifier); people and black people; people and Muslims; people and LGBTQ people. In all of my centuries of teaching freshman composition and, occasionally, creative writing, I have (almost) never had a straight white male student writer who has felt the need to identify a straight white male character in his essay or story as anything more than a guy, whereas a gay, black, or female person, will always be identified as such.

When we read fantasy (by which I mean straight white male readers like myself and probably, I'm guessing, a number of people who don't exactly fit my own list of marking modifiers, but who read unmarked characters similarly simply because they're used to it), we tend to assume that any character we meet, and particularly the protagonist, is like "us" and thus not in need of identifying tags. We might need to be told that a given character is royalty or monstrous or ten feet tall or is short with hairy feet, but we simply assume his straight white maleness, unless some sort of gender, race, or sexual orientation marker is included. In a medieval fantasy it is unlikely to occur to you that a warrior named Ustgug is black or a lesbian and you'll probably only notice her femaleness (minus specific body descriptions) because our language is so relentlessly gendered.

And all of this goes for language as well, particularly dialogue. The majority of modern fantasy characters, Master Suresh, for example, sound like either more or less middle-class white Americans or more or less middle-class white Britons, but with slightly archaic accents. When the writer adds an accent or, more extreme, a different dialect to show otherwise, it's usually to denote that the character is either working class (Samwise Gamgee) or nobility (Aragorn). There's nothing wrong with this sort of short-hand characterization, but the point is that the white middle-class dialect is unmarked. Characters so constructed (like Frodo) are thus seen as lacking an accent rather than as having white middle-class accents. So, how does this rant tie back to Wilson's story?

Wilson is hardly the first writer of fantasy to include characters with distinctive, even occasionally opaque, dialects or accents, but by endowing his poor, uneducated, vulgar, and individually characterized caravan guards with distinct and differing dialects (for Wilson introduces more than one) that aren't just working class but that specifically shout "working class, African American," he's forcing his readers to stretch their expectations of what is possible when they read secondary-world fantasy (or science fiction, or whatever it is). And the phrases in Spanish and French that the black characters occasionally throw in, which somehow seem even more inappropriate in this world, just add to the, well, not exactly confusion, but certainly the novel's refusal to settle down and merely meet our expectations.
books  writing 
4 weeks ago
Hyouka and Mystery
I’m surprised at the number of people who don’t like Hyouka when the primary complaint about it is exactly what makes it special. The first few episodes make it clear that it’s an unconventional mystery series–a light mystery, you might say, aimed towards the light novel audience. But what struck me about the show right away, and what a lot of people seem to hate about it, is that it deliberately ignores mystery’s partner: suspense.

Mystery Without Murder

The mystery genre is, for lack of a better word, grimdark. Murder and mystery go hand in hand; the most mysterious of all mysteries are the ones that involve crime, fear, a genuine threat to the cast and to society as a whole. Of course, this is only one of many possible settings, as Umineko demonstrated. I won’t spoil it here, but for those who aren’t familiar with the story, Umineko no Naku Koro ni begins as an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery and ends with mystery acting as a metaphor to illustrate the game’s broader themes.

Mysteries in Hyouka are logic puzzles. They’re abstract in the sense that they’re meaningless–solving the mystery does not result in the capture of a criminal. Chitanda’s catchphrase summarizes it succinctly: these mysteries are about curiosity! Hyouka rephrases the oddities we observe in day-to-day life as mysteries to be solved with the same kind of deductive logic we’ve come to expect from mystery fiction. It’s like observing the neighbours from the living room window and inventing motives for their actions–the reasoning might not be correct, but as long as it flows logically, it serves its purpose (which, usually, is to kill time). Remember how Umineko‘s battles are fought, by searching for possible (not plausible) explanations for crimes? It’s the same idea.

My point is that, rather than inventing new logic traps or adding layers of meta, Hyouka diverges from baseline mysteries by focusing on the heart of what a mystery is. Mysteries are logic puzzles at their core; suspense and drama are only common traits that tend to accompany them. The identity of a culture festival prankster can be a more elaborate mystery than the identity of a murderer.

Truth is Irrelevant

Yet people always say: why should I care about mysteries if nothing is at stake? My answer is that the beauty of mysteries is in the puzzle forming and solving, the use of logic to reason through a sea of possibilities and find one that, in true Schrödinger’s Cat fashion, might or might not be true. Truth is less important than the process of writing and reading, building the labyrinth and having someone else navigate it. That’s part of why–Chitanda’s neck aside–episode 20 was so beautiful: it had Oreki play the role of the writer rather than the reader. He constructed a simple mystery for Satoshi and Mayaka to solve, and he counted on them deducing the solution the same way he would.

That said, a more compelling example lies in Chitanda’s refusal to accept solutions that turn a “character” into a criminal or villain. Truth, again, is unimportant–this curiosity and the mysteries it creates is about the desire to stop and smell the roses, to learn what strangers think and feel, even when you’re not forced to. There is no room for negativity in her worldview. So long as it’s possible–unlikely, perhaps, but possible–for a mystery to be explained without there being a criminal, Chitanda’s curiosity will choose that explanation as the only one. I could cite Umineko again if you’re wondering where you’ve heard this before.

Watashi, Kininarimasu!

Chitanda’s catchphrase is self-explanatory but I want to talk a bit about it because it ties nicely into the rest of the show. If Hyouka views mysteries as puzzles rather a suspense tool, it makes sense that curiosity lies at its heart. Oreki, of course, is the opposite of curious–his character is defined by his refusal to stop and smell the roses and his belief that extraneous things like everyday mysteries aren’t worth thinking about. If you take a few steps back from Hyouka‘s setting in the context of mystery and look at its themes and characters, you essentially have a story about an incurious person who learns to appreciate the little things in life through his knack for solving puzzles.

Chitanda wonders why a stranger who always takes one path to school suddenly takes another, but she can’t explain it; Oreki doesn’t care, but if he thinks about it, he can probably figure it out. Gradually, Oreki starts to care about details like this that his brain normally would have filtered out, resulting in a less “gray” life, to use the show’s terminology. Hyouka stresses curiosity and the desire to solve mysteries rather than the ability to do so. Having a brain like Holmes is a wonderful thing, but as the show’s second OP video eloquently reminds us, Oreki’s life is bland until it is given life by the colour of Chitanda’s worldview that slowly but surely rubs off on him.

So no, Hyouka‘s defiance of suspense-based mystery is not a gimmick. It serves a thematic purpose and it provides context for one of this year’s most endearing almost-romances. It’s a good show.
anime  fannish 
4 weeks ago
How much can I write in a day? (Hook & Eye)
There is a big tra-la-la on Twitter currently, about profs working 60 hour weeks and other profs not working 60 hour weeks and people talking about power and performance-of-busyness and overwork and systems and ranks and all of it.

This post is not about that. This post is about how much I can write in one day: for how long, what kind of writing, and how.

I’ve been on sabbatical for just over a month. So, I’m not doing much, work wise, except writing. My email is minimal; I have no department or administrative meetings; I’m not teaching. I am still working with my grad students and their writing, and I did go to a conference for three days.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

• How much I can write? Between 300-4000 words per day, depending on what kind of writing I’m doing
• For how long? Between 4 and 6 thirty-minute poms, which, with breaks, means a workday that begins about 9am and runs to 1 or 2pm. (Total writing time is between 2 and 3 hours; total workday is 4 or 5 hours long)
• What kind of writing? I have been free-writing (easy and fun); note-taking and bookmarking (easy and boring); birds-eye overview of main ideas and the main point of the chapter (intense and exciting); crafting outlines and trying to carve out a structure (hard and slow)
• How? I write in 30 minute bursts, according to a task list and schedule my coach and I set up once a week, for the coming week.

I had this idea that being on sabbatical would mean that I would be Working On My Research for 8 hours a day. I know writing is taxing, so I figured I would only do that for three or four hours a day (I didn’t seem to plan any breaks in there), and then after lunch, I would read books and article and take notes or do library searches or some such.

That was way too much. That was just not possible for me.

In the 2-3 hours of total writing time, spread over 4 or 5 hours of the day, over the past three weeks, I have got an incredible amount of work done: I have made huge progress on the book chapter I’m working on, including: finding and bookmarking and taking notes (about 7000 words) on all my primary sources, and the popular sources that engage them; adding 4500 words to the chapter draft; creating a solid and workable outline of the structure and arguments of the chapter from scratch; creating a research task list, organized and referenced, for my RA; creating section outlines and cutting and pasting the whole chapter draft into the correct sections of the new outline; and starting to fill the holes that I now see in the draft.

In three weeks, writing for not more than 3 hours per day, I’ve brought a book chapter from 10% done to about 65% done. I’m on track to finish it by the end of the month, which is to say, I will have written a solid draft of a whole book chapter in about 6 weeks. In a work week that usually has between 12-15 hours of writing in it and not the 40 I thought were going to be necessary.

I keep thinking I must not be working hard enough. That I’m slacking off. But I’ll tell you, first, that what I am doing is exhausting: by the end of my writing time each day, I just climb into bed with the cat and a Magic Bag and pass out hard for 45 minutes. I am spent; I have nothing left in me to write or think anymore by the time my last pom is done. Second, by the time I get up the next morning, I am excited and full of energy, and eager to sit back down and start writing. That has been a revelation. Third, I’m able to take care of myself and that makes a huge difference: I am trying new recipes in my Instant Pot; running five times a week, three of those with a running group; going to bed on time; spending quality time with my husband and daughter; taking the weekends to just … live my life. I am feeling really, really good. It’s nice.

So sabbatical for me looks like 16-20 hours of work during the week, and none during the weekend. I expect that the burst of frenetic thinking and writing and editing that comes from finishing a piece will mean the occasional week where I work more than that, and weeks where I travel for talks or conferences will look a little different, too.

But I wanted you to know: in the ideal circumstance of the sabbatical, where writing is my only job, I still can’t do it for more than 6 poms in a day, and that 6 poms a day is proving to be remarkably productive. I would say it’s okay to have limits, but we actually don’t have a choice about our limits. They are what they are. By respecting what my limits are, I am able, paradoxically, to do much better work than when I push myself harder, and am able to be happy, and balanced, and healthy. We don’t hear a lot of stories about doing less. So I wanted to tell you mine.
*  personal  academia  ! 
5 weeks ago
What we know about mind-wandering — self-modelling, subjectivity "free will" (Aeon)
But don’t lose sight of the fact that all this modelling is just a convenient trick our organism plays on itself to enhance its chances of survival. We must not forget that the phenomenal realm (how we subjectively experience ourselves) is only a small part of the neurobiological one (the reality of the creatures we actually are). There’s no little person in our head, only a set of dynamical, self-organising processes at play behind the scenes. Yet it seems like these processes often function by creating self-fulfilling prophecies; in other words, we have an identity because we convince ourselves we have one. Humans have evolved to be a bit like method actors, who need to really imagine and believe they are a particular character in order to perform effectively on stage. But just as there is no ‘real’ character, there’s also no such thing as ‘a self’, and probably nothing like an immortal soul either.

Rather, one of the main functions of the self-model is how it lets our biological organism predict, and thereby control, the sensory consequences of our actions. That produces what’s called our sense of agency. When we move an arm to grasp a glass or throw a ball, we need to anticipate how these movements will feel ahead of time in order for them to be successful. To come up with this prediction, and to minimise ugly surprises that could kill or harm us, we must develop a good explanation of the underlying cause of whatever we’re experiencing. But since the real cause – unconscious, sub-personal processes, such as synapses firing – can’t be represented within the workspace of our consciousness, the brain tells itself something else: there must be a self acting so as to make all these thoughts and actions occur! The conscious experience of volition and agency are simple and elegant inferences to the best explanation. So when I close my fingers around the stem of a wineglass or feel the rough surface of a tennis ball in my hand, I infer that I must be an agent who is capable of originating, controlling and owning all these events.

The sense of agency involves three major components: a subjective, inner experience that you are the initiator or cause of your thoughts and bodily actions (what is called ‘ultimate origination’); the sustained impression of control or carrying through an action over a certain period of time; and a sense of ownership, the robust feeling that those thoughts and bodily actions belong to you. By contrast, a person suffering from schizophrenia might lack any or all of these things, because she is not able to integrate representations of her thoughts or actions into her self-model properly. Some patients report feeling like alien ideas are being implanted in their mind, or like mechanical puppets or robots, as if their body movements were controlled by an alien force.

However, even if you do experience yourself as an agent, that doesn’t mean you fundamentally are one. In the physical world, there is no such thing as ultimate origination. Science is what explains why you think and behave the way you do, not some pre-existing agential self. But just like a method actor can’t focus on the fact that she’s acting, our biological organism is usually unable to experience our self-model as a model. Instead, we tend to identify with its content, just as the actor identifies with the character. The more we achieve a high degree of predictability over our behaviour, the more tempting it is to say: this is me, and I did this. We tell ourselves a brilliant and parsimonious causal story, even if it’s false from the third-person perspective of science. Empirically speaking, the self-as-agent is just a useful fiction or hypothesis, a neurocomputational artefact of our evolved self-model.

On the level of the brain, this process is a truly amazing affair, and a major achievement of evolution. But if we look at the resulting conscious experience from the outside, and on the level of the whole person, the brain’s mini-narrative also appears as a misrepresentation, slightly complacent, a bit grandiose, and ultimately delusional. Agency on the level of thought is really a ‘surface’ phenomenon, produced by the fact that the underwater, unconscious causal precursors are simply unknown to us. Even if we sometimes reach what resembles the rationalist ideal, we probably do so only sporadically, and the notion of controlled, effortful thinking is probably a very bad model of conscious thought in general. Our conscious mental activity is usually an unbidden, unintentional form of behaviour. Yet somehow the tourist on the prow begins to experience herself as an omnipotent magician, making dolphins come into existence out of the blue, and jump at her command.
*  psychology  personal  monism 
6 weeks ago
Doing the Work
My first novel was published in 1993 but I didn’t really understand what it meant to be a writer until the summer of 1998. My third novel, The Blue Place, was a couple of months from publication and I had no idea what I wanted to write next. Or should I say I had many ideas but I couldn’t settle to anything. I’d prepared a collection of short stories and essays, started research for a historical novel, started editing an original anthology series. I bought a couple of books about screenwriting. I began to study aikido. I considered learning to draw or to speak Spanish. And every now and again I’d think about Aud. There was a great deal still to write about her, if I chose, but the idea sent me into a kind of panic. One summer evening I was sitting on the porch in the sun, drinking beer, nodding at passersby in the neighbourhood, mind on nothing in particular, when I found myself imagining not writing anymore. I was picturing going back to school to study ancient history, or going back to teaching self defense, even going back to England. I remember one minute wondering idly how much we could put the house on the market for, and the next blinking at my beer, thinking: Put the house on the market? Move? Why? Well, because we’d bought it three years ago and I’d never lived anywhere longer than three years, so it was time to move. QED. After all, if I stayed, I’d have to make some choices like…like, oh, what color to paint the walls, and what sort of furniture to put in my office, and what to plant in the garden. I’d have to stop living in the house we’d bought and start living in the home we’d made. That would mean making some choices. The house would lose the potential to be perfect because I would have to start dealing with specific, real, practical limitations. I realised that what I was contemplating was running away: from writing, from doing the work.

I don’t like work. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding it, picking up singing or karate or a course of academic study, finding it easy, and then walking away the minute friends or teachers or fellow students began expecting things and dropping unsubtle hints about practice schedules and rehearsal times and future intentions. Now, staring at my empty beer bottle on the porch, I began to understand. It wasn’t the effort I was afraid of but what making that effort meant. I always walked away when I reached the stage where I would graduate from being a beginner to a serious student. This is the point where the speed with which I learned something would mean less than how deeply I learned it, and what I might do with it, where I might take it on my own. To progress meant having to do the work. It meant that if I failed it wouldn’t be because I hadn’t bothered to try but because I had limitations. I can’t tell you how much I hated that realisation.

I don’t like the idea of failure, of discovering limitations, or of work, but when I write I face all three every day. I keep doing it because it feels good and because, for the first time, the work—product and process—is worth it.
nicolagriffith  writing  books 
7 weeks ago
"Do Not Touch" by Prudence Shen
Lane doesn’t understand why people have such a hard time following directions. All these paintings are clearly marked “DO NOT TOUCH” for a reason.
7 weeks ago
Weblogs: A History And Perspective
Shortly after I began producing Rebecca's Pocket I noticed two side effects I had not expected. First, I discovered my own interests. I thought I knew what I was interested in, but after linking stories for a few months I could see that I was much more interested in science, archaeology, and issues of injustice than I had realized. More importantly, I began to value more highly my own point of view. In composing my link text every day I carefully considered my own opinions and ideas, and I began to feel that my perspective was unique and important.
This profound experience may be most purely realized in the blog-style weblog. Lacking a focus on the outside world, the blogger is compelled to share his world with whomever is reading. He may engage other bloggers in conversation about the interests they share. He may reflect on a book he is reading, or the behavior of someone on the bus. He might describe a flower that he saw growing between the cracks of a sidewalk on his way to work. Or he may simply jot notes about his life: what work is like, what he had for dinner, what he thought of a recent movie. These fragments, pieced together over months, can provide an unexpectedly intimate view of what it is to be a particular individual in a particular place at a particular time.
The blogger, by virtue of simply writing down whatever is on his mind, will be confronted with his own thoughts and opinions. Blogging every day, he will become a more confident writer. A community of 100 or 20 or 3 people may spring up around the public record of his thoughts. Being met with friendly voices, he may gain more confidence in his view of the world; he may begin to experiment with longer forms of writing, to play with haiku, or to begin a creative project--one that he would have dismissed as being inconsequential or doubted he could complete only a few months before.
As he enunciates his opinions daily, this new awareness of his inner life may develop into a trust in his own perspective. His own reactions--to a poem, to other people, and, yes, to the media--will carry more weight with him. Accustomed to expressing his thoughts on his website, he will be able to more fully articulate his opinions to himself and others. He will become impatient with waiting to see what others think before he decides, and will begin to act in accordance with his inner voice instead. Ideally, he will become less reflexive and more reflective, and find his own opinions and ideas worthy of serious consideration.
His readers will remember an incident from their own childhood when the blogger relates a memory. They might look more closely at the other riders on the train after the blogger describes his impressions of a fellow commuter. They will click back and forth between blogs and analyze each blogger's point of view in a multi-blog conversation, and form their own conclusions on the matter at hand. Reading the views of other ordinary people, they will readily question and evaluate what is being said. Doing this, they may begin a similar journey of self-discovery and intellectual self-reliance.
medium  technology 
8 weeks ago
Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes
The president of Kazakhstan is obsessed with apostrophes. Everyone is annoyed at him.
8 weeks ago
Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom's gift economy (Transformative Works and Cultures)
[1.1] Fandom has often been discussed, by both scholars and fans themselves, as a sharing economy, and specifically as a gift economy based on giving, receiving, and reciprocating (note 1). Within this economy, art objects—fan fiction, fan vids, fan art—have typically been the most obvious and appreciated gifts; Rachael Sabotini (1999) calls these art objects "the traditional gifts" of fandom. Reciprocation of these gifts may take a number of forms, both tangible (other art objects, feedback for the creator) and intangible (attention, recognition, status). This ongoing, reiterative process of gift exchange is part of what makes it possible to experience and analyze fandom as a community, or rather an overlapping series of communities, rather than simply a large and shifting number of people occupying the same affinity space.

[2.3] But there are many other forms of fan work, including work that does not necessarily result in objects for recirculation. Media fandom runs on the engine of production, but much of what we produce is not art but information, discussion, architecture, access, resources, metadata. Think about all the behind-the-scenes labor, for example, that goes into commenting on stories, beta-ing vids, writing essays and recommendations, reviewing and screen-capping episodes, collecting links, tagging bookmarks, maintaining Dreamwidth and LiveJournal communities, organizing fests/challenges/exchanges, compiling newsletters, making costumes, animating .gif sets, creating user icons, recording podfic, editing zines, assembling fan mixes, administering kink memes, running awards sites, converting popular stories to e-book formats, coding archives, updating wikis, populating databases, building vid conversion software, planning conventions, volunteering at conventions, moderating convention panels—and the list could go on.
theory  meta  fic 
9 weeks ago
Shorter sleep duration and longer sleep onset latency are related to difficulty disengaging attention from negative emotional images in individuals... - PubMed - NCBI
Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is often associated with disruptions in sleep and circadian rhythms. Disruptions in sleep and circadian rhythms may deal a "second hit" to attentional control deficits. This study evaluated whether sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions are related to the top-down control of attention to negative stimuli in individuals with heightened repetitive negative thinking.
*  studies 
9 weeks ago
6 Famous Authors Who’ve Written Fanfiction
Lev Grossman (The Magicians)
I’ve contributed to fandoms for Harry Potter, Adventure Time, and How to Train Your Dragon, and I would say that the challenges in fanfiction and traditional fiction are essentially the same. In fanfiction you’re working with characters and in worlds created by somebody else, so you don't start from scratch. But novelists don't always start from scratch, either. They write about real historical figures, and they borrow characters, the way Jean Rhys did in Wide Sargasso Sea, or Tom Stoppard did in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The trick is to make them your own.

I often think of my books as responses to other books. It's a bit like the theory Harold Bloom writes about in The Anxiety of Influence, about how poets create by responding to their predecessors. Some fanfiction does this very well — very resourcefully, very daringly, very outrageously. And I've learned from reading it. I think fanfiction’s negative reputation comes from our contemporary obsession with the idea of originality. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that we put a huge amount of emphasis on stories as intellectual property. There are great reasons for doing that — I might not have a career otherwise. But there are other ways to think about originality. For example, Shakespeare thought nothing of borrowing characters. He didn't invent Hamlet, but borrowed him and used him for his own purposes. Virgil didn't invent Aeneas, and Goethe didn't invent Faust. I think plots and characters circulated more freely back then. That freedom could give rise to masterpieces.
meta  fannish 
9 weeks ago
What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?
Here’s the short version: Every community-based site in the history of the web has essentially been a stab at creating a social network. Most of them fail as businesses, with the rare exception of small, lucky communities that become self-sufficient but not exactly prosperous. What if that’s just the way it is?

Here’s the longer version. Let’s start with some seemingly unrelated bullet points. I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray.

Before the web, I worked for alternative weekly newspapers. There was conventional wisdom even then that the business of running a weekly paper sucked. But we weren’t in it for the money, we were in it because it was important to the community the weekly served. We made enough from advertising to print the paper and deliver it to the readers. It was very rarely profitable. In the alt newsweekly world of the early 90s, breaking even was considered the success case. We did it anyway.

This week it was announced that Digg, once valued in billions, had been sold for 500k. An inglorious end to a once beloved social media darling. Digg was attempting to scratch a particular community itch. It tried to make sharing newsy links social, and you could follow friends, which is the basic element of any social network. It worked, for a time, but it was never profitable.

Last month Facebook, certainly the biggest player in the “let’s monetize a social network” game went public and their stock price took an immediate flop and has been bouncing around like a fish out of water ever since. The question on everyone’s mind: How will they make money from all those free members? Without souring the milk, of course.

Twitter and Tumblr, both incredibly successful at cultivating their communities, both yet to prove how exactly they’re going to survive as businesses.

Last week it was announced that the WELL, an online community that predates the web, was to be sold by its present owner, Salon (a business relationship thats’s always been a head-scratcher to me). The community is currently rallying to buy itself.

When I wrote a book about community sites 11 years ago, I included many examples of sites doing it right. Almost all of them have died since. One that hasn’t: MetaFilter, a small community company supporting a small staff that makes money through advertising and membership costs.
Can you see a pattern here?

The flow, as I see it, works like this.

We want to be a social network. The more people in it, the more “value” it has, so we need everyone to join. Because we want everyone to join, we cannot put up a pay barrier, so we have to make money another way. Let’s say advertising. (Note: Most never make it this far.)
Our advertisers want as much data about, and contact with, our users as possible. We want to only allow limited engagement. Either advertiser interest wanes (Flickr), or we coast on our investment (Twitter, Tumblr), or we give in and let the advertisers run the show (pretty much everyone else).
Members become angry at us because we’re selling them out. The exodus begins. There’s always somewhere else to go (see Friendster, MySpace). Go back to step 1.
See it? The bigger you go, the harder the road. Meanwhile, small, focused, and yes, exclusionary community sites flourish. Matt Haughey made several key decisions in the formation of MetaFilter, but the most important one was to limit growth. Hell, for years you couldn’t get an account if you wanted one. After that, they started costing money. When it costs money at the door, that means you don’t have to sell out your members to advertisers. It also means the community stays small, which – surprise! – also leads to healthier communities.

What if we all realized that social networks are a societal good (at least as good as a local alt weekly) but not necessarily good businesses? We’re all desperately hoping that Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr will figure out the secret ingredient that turns a large-scale community of free members into a cash machine. What if we’re all just waiting for the impossible? Like a business that turns water into gold? We’ve got lots of water, we just need to figure out the gold part….

What if we eventually realize that, like the alt weeklies, these are things we do because they should be done, because it’s fun, to make our little community a better place … not because they’re going to be great businesses.

Because so far, when you look at the numbers, that’s just what they are: not great businesses.

The one truly great business born of the web is Google, and not their self-driving cars and the other nonsense that accounts for zero percent of their income. It’s putting small, self-serve ads beside their search results. You and I create those search results with our behavior online, but not directly on Google. And that line between where I’m using my voice (you’re soaking in it) and where it’s being monetized (*cough*) is enough of a separation that it doesn’t bother me. The problem happens when the content creation happens in the same place as the ad deployment. So, of course, that’s exactly what Google’s trying with Google+, to less than stellar results.

My point with this thought experiment is this: What if we designed a social network to be small, self-supporting, and independent from the outset? How would it look, work, and feel? I bet it would come out looking nothing like the ones we’ve got now, the ones still trying to turn water into gold.
medium  *  technology 
9 weeks ago
The Fans Are All Right
(aka Maciej is maybe the best person on the internet?)
meta  medium  intersectionality  technology 
10 weeks ago
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