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Tribal culture

Over at his blog The Long Tail, Chris Anderson talks about the fragmentation of American culture, Anil Dash's photohack of the New York Times, various memes that have become common in the internet culture (to the point where Slashdotters can post All your house are belong to us and everyone knows they're talking about the Kelo decision), and other factors that are leading to the replacement of what my fellow conservatives call "the Dominant Media Culture" with hundreds, maybe thousands of subcultures all coexisting and crosspollinating in a massively parallel megacultural mix.

We've seen that going on in fandom for quite a while, since fandom is itself a mix of subcultures. It started with SF fans, of course, way back in the 1930s, but ever since then other folks with related interests (horror fans, fans of particular TV series, etc.) have taken to showing up at SF conventions or organizing their own get-togethers where they can sit around/stand around and geek out about the things that excite them. The Internet has only accelerated the process by making it easier for people in widely-separated parts of the world to communicate with each other.

So are fans on the cutting edge of this phenomenon? Or is fandom just the part of this cultural shift most visible to me because I'm most familiar with it?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2005 11:24 pm (UTC)
I think there's some truth to that really, online culture is just a faster version of the old fan cultures -- the fanzine or apa isn't "dead", it's just primarily an online thing.

I'm sure it's not just a sf fandom thing -- I just suspect that it's one primary virtual subculture that's not quite built around a career or a particular religious following -- which is where I suspect that it was a lot more common in the past.

Jun. 25th, 2005 05:07 am (UTC)
I don't know about fanzines so much, but we still have an APA here in town...StippleAPA will be collating disty #214 the week after CONvergence.

There are subcultures that are oriented towards work & religion, but I think the former are fading away as big corporations become the exception rather than the rule and company social functions become more of a legal minefield.
Jun. 25th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC)
I was really thinking more about professional associations and gatherings that aren't tied to a specific employer, but across employers -- I was thinking of the various Information Technology blogs, professional conferences, user groups, and the like.

[I typically generalize APAs and fanzines as the same thing.]

Jun. 25th, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC)
*nodnods* Yes, that's true. I'd completely spaced those out.

I think generalizing APAs and fanzines as fanac in print blurs the essential difference, Fanzines are more the product of one person's (or a small group's) point of view, while an APA is both more personal and more of a communal effort among the apahackers. You could send an APA to the printers, but that would just be *wrong*...everyone should be making their own copies, and coming together for the collation party.
Jun. 26th, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, there distinctions, but they're a lot like the distinctions between their on-line countparts like blogs, on-line journals, message boards, and Wikipedia type forums.
Jun. 26th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
Very good analogy. Fanzines:APAs::blogs:LJs.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )