Tribe Structure in Fandom

This is the transcript of a delightful TED talk by Maciej Ceglowski, founder of Pinboard, about his experience watching fanficcers transplant and build their community on his site. It’s really worth reading for his description of a growing Google Doc of business requirements alone.

Here you see a very stern admonition by some people not to slash me (that is, include me in erotic fiction).

“Please don’t slash Maciej, he’s not okay with it, and we want him to like us.”

(I was totally fine with it!)

You see the debate and then someone plaintively cries “THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS”, and tries to argue that writing fic about anthropomorphized bookmarking sites is not the same thing as real person fiction (RPF), which is taboo in certain parts of fandom.

And then of course the inevitable happens, and someone writes fic about the document itself.

Naturally the fic links back to the document, and someone puts a link to the fic in the document itself, crossing the Internet streams and dividing by zero.

Having worked at large tech companies, where getting a spec written requires shedding tears of blood in a room full of people whose only goal seems to be to thwart you, and waiting weeks for them to finish, I could not believe what I was seeing.

It was like a mirror world to YouTube comments, where several dozen anonymous people had come together in love and harmony to write a complex, logically coherent document, based on a single tweet.

All I could think was–who ARE these people?

I worked in tech long enough to know exactly how he feels about getting specs.

Of course, to readers of this blog, what’s less interesting is that fans are special people, than the power of the spontaneous, organic community.


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