Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughts on Kindle Worlds & vars-n-sund

A post on Passive Voice -

- which has turned out to be quite interesting, if only because the volume of posts pretty much guaranties that there will be something of interest daily -

- touched on Kindle Worlds -

- which I knew to be a thing, and whilst I was interested in it, I hadn't heard that it was worth the following.  PV's linked post, quoting GigaOm supports that position -

"In the month of June, authors contributed 46 Pretty Little Liars works to Kindle Worlds, which sounds like a fair number — unless you compare it to the more than 6,000 such works that appeared during this time on two other fan fiction sites."

The article goes on to point out a number of cultural & economic reasons why KW is struggling upstream against the torrent that is Fandom-as-we-know-it: restrictions on language, plot, & most especially sexual content, paying for content, and "quality" checks.  (For 'xample, I looked up the restrictions for GI Joe, and found them to be more or less as I might have guess, with a couple addendums that made me chortle.)

What Tushnet (the lawyer who wrote the original referenced article: All This Has Happened Before And All This Will Happen Again: Innovation In Copyright Licensing) says is true - putting quality restrictions, encouraging longer length stories, requiring readers to pay for reading, and most especially limiting sexual content - is going to limit Fandom participation in a huge way.

Fandom thrives on the adhoc, on the piecemeal, and on-the-fly prioritization of time & effort. Anything resembling a restriction - ie SPELL CHECK YOUR @#$# FIC BEFORE YOU POST IT - is going to reduce fannish fic participation.  Content limits - esp touching on the porn which makes up a huge portion of fic - is going to reduce it even more.  (Although, seeing as (aka the pit of voles) is still going strong, after all these years, it's important to note that those restrictions do have limits on their impact.)  Most significant, I think, is the current limited variety of 'fandoms' - source canon - represented by KW.  Fandom, as I said, has the attention span of an AHHD mayfly.  Readers need a new shiny, and twenty canons isn't going to cut it.

In some ways, I think that Fandom's way is better. It's not like God puts grammar and content restrictions on prayers - not while please God let me not @#$% this up remains one of the most popular prayers in any language - and it's not like we don't live our lives in this moment, doing the best we can in the moment to hand.

But there is something to be said for standards, for polished preparation, for attention to detail, and for years spent improving a craft, a piece of art, a life.

For me, I think that KW has a lot to offer in terms of what I value - preparation, a story beyond simple porn, knowledge of the original author's approval/permission, and a chance to support the canon that I want more of.  But it would be a mistake to assume that these things are needful in order to produce a high-quality, stirring, impactful story.  I've seen it done.  Not as frequently as Sturgeon would have you think, but still.

Another post off PV led me to this passage from  a Gawker article:

"Pish posh," you might say. "You're one to talk. Your grammar is wronged, your metaphors are blunt bricks, and your similes are like a hot needle to the eyeball. Your infinitives are split, your participles are dangling, your spelling is eroneous, your cliches are old as time, your sentences are repetitive, and your sentences are repetitive. Your concepts appear to have been plucked from thin air with no foresight, hindsight, or insight. If anyone is in need of a good editor it is you. And you are ugly."  

 The Gawker family of websites (including IO9) is on my list these days for annoying ad content, and Gawker in particular strikes me as one of the less edifying members.  But I keep getting reminded that blanket biases - like absolutes in science - are wrong.


Saw Guardians of the Galaxy.  Great fun.  Much explosion.  Between Snowpiercer, Edge of Tomorrow, and the rest, it's a good year to be a geek.

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