Monday, April 24, 2006

Fandom and Vernacular Knowledge Production

Hello all,

I just wanted to say that I really like that the research summit is accompanied by this blog because it adds a level of self-reflexivity to our discussions of new media, information technologies, etc. It seems very easy, especially within the confines of a conference or "summit," to lose awareness of the fact that we are all academics actively creating our own discourse community and participating in a form of knowledge work when we talk about the formation of online communities and the changes that information technology bring to the idea of knowledge. But hopefully the act of blogging these ideas will carry with it a sense that, in some ways, academics all now have competition, that the work of collecting, organizing, archiving, interpreting, and generating information is now widely dispersed beyond academia. This is particularly important as a student of film studies because, to me, one of the more interesting sites of online community formation is fan culture, and I am especially interested in issues of knowledge production and new media within fandom. But, following the work of Matt Hills in his book Fan Cultures, I try to be aware of the fact that the work I do is not that dissimilar to the work of various film fans: analyzing and gathering information about films and then presenting said information in a format appropriate to my particular community. Hills wants to recognize these similarities and look at fan cultures as alternative sites of knowledge production, hopefully avoiding the condescension involved when academics study fan cultures and in the process construct fan interpretation as the opposite of serious, academic interpretation. This perspective, it seems, is appropriate across academia as information technology vastly multiplies the kinds of vernacular knowledge production and community building inherent in online fandom. As many of the posts thus far point out, the question before us is how we as a academics and teachers situate ourselves in relationship to this emerging form of knowledge production without dismissing it as banal simply to affirm our own academic subjectivity (and economic positions within the university). Hopefully this blog and the summit can help with this question.


At 7:01 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing this information and insights, Russ. I'm doing research on what I call online citizen reviewers (think reviewers on, though there are plenty of other sites that have citizen reviews). It sounds to me like the book you mention here should be very helpful.

Lisa Ede


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