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April 11, 2011

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This link is weird to read, because it's clearly written by people working off 3rd and fourth-hand sources, and it's oddly sort of... not quite right.


I was actually present for this stuff, and it's making weird distorted reference to people whom I can actually get on the phone to, or email, or Facebook, and read this to, and they'd go "huh"?

Though some of it is in nature, it clearly reads like a game of Telephone has been played with perspective, as points of view have shifted from the actual people involved to second parties who wrote about their impression of the first-hand accounts, to people who wrote based on what their second-hand sources said to third-hand, to fourth-hand.

I've seen this before a number of times now when people so removed from sf fandom of the fifties or sixties or seventies similarly write about the events and people of the day, people who are right still with us. Who you can, you know, ask firsthand what their own views are, rather than read a wiki's views of what someone thought of what someone thought of what someone thought of what someone thought of what Paula or Juanita or Buck or Devra or Suzle or Ginjer or whomever said (see also, for instance, Helen Merrick's The Secret Feminist Cabal, which I really should write a review, which was from a somewhat spotty university fanzine collection in Australia with no one there to advise her about U.S. fandom, and who mostly worked off Justine Larbalestier's revised thesis, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, which was itself written in this similarly fourth-hand, academic, way, about people whom, again, one could just, in the U.S., ask at a convention, or email or phone call or are people I've known all my life, and thus Merrick is full of bizare distances and strange quotes from people as if they were dead, when she never bothered to ask what they thought of something they wrote either 40 years ago, or, say, on a mailing list I happened to be on, a few years ago, and as a result, I found all sorts of quotes from people in the book who are friends of mine who had no idea they'd been quoted, no permissions asked, and whom I ended up buying copies of the book and sending it to them, because Merrick had never even had the courtesy to let them know she was quoting from them at length, or ask permission, or, again, ask them if she was being accurate or not.

She, in fact, did this to me, and quotes me while attributing some of what I wrote to Linda Bushyager because she couldn't, clearly understand the art logo with my name in it.

Which is getting a bit far afield, I know, but the book is sitting a foot from me, and I was talking briefly to Timmi about this at FOGCon last month, since she was the publisher, and it, for instance, quoted Jerry Kaufman, whom I've known since I was a kid, was best man at his wedding to Suzle, whose bridesman I was simultaneously, from the Timebinders mailing list some fifteen years ago, which I was one of the founders of, and who both go to, are a core part of, the monthly party I was the primary founder of, in Seattle, the Vanguard Party, and whom I was just chatting with at Corflu, whom I can pick up the phone to talk to, or drop an email to, but somehow Timmi never asked Jerry about this quote, nor did Merrick, and in fact wasn't aware of it, apparently, when I asked him about it.

And I could run through most of Chapter 7 pointing out where she got all sorts of things either wrong or not quite right (or right), which I know because I was right there for the events, and the people she quotes as if they were dead are my friends, and I've shown them these pages and they've typically never seen them, and were freaked out to see what was there, and astounded to see some stuff that was, um, very wrong, or were... gee, why didn't Merrick just ask me?

Which is also... I could have just put her in direct contact with the people she was quoting, but treating as if they were dead and from the 18th century.

And similarly on this entry, well:

Star Trek fans mingled with Man From U.N.C.L.E. fans
This is bizarrely vague. She's talking specifically about WPSFA, the Western Pennsylvania Science Fiction Association, which was founded by the above Suzle, Ginjer Buchanan, Linda Bushyager, Gene diModica, all of whom, well, I knew at the time and ever since and very closely and deeply, and then we're talking about Terry Carr having commissioned the U.N.C.L.E. books when he was working with Don Wollheim, and I can run through the list of writers, including Buck Coulson and Gene deWeese, David McDaniel (known in fandom as Ted Johnstone).... can write a book on this stuff myself, and go into great detail, and already I've lost almost anyone apt to have read this far, but from my POV it's just bizarre to read such a remote umpth-hand version of this stuff that is so personal to me that I have to be careful to avoid mentioning who was sleeping with who and who with me, and who I was seeing last week that directly connects to X to Y, I'm still so intimately involved with the people that are so loosely being referred to here.

I'll drop this at the moment, since it's so tangential, but... the people writing these http://fanlore.org entries really should talk more to and ask first hand sources, which can be done perfectly easily if they just bother to ask.

I'll freaking connect them on Facebook or by email or telephone, say, to Ginjer or Suzle or Devra or Genie, to ask about, say, U.N.C.L.E. fandom, or the others involved who were the founders of Trek fandom (which Devra was, and who just last night I was talking with X about how she was retiring from the Foolscap con), or Ben Yalow, or we could talk about Ted Johnstone/David McDaniel's unpublished THE FINAL AFFAIR, and I used to have most all of these -- what are now being called "media zines," but which were simply sf fanzines which led, as years and decades passed, into a branching subfandom that became more and more semi-but-not-quite separate -- and I'm the person who first created the first Worldcon displays on fanzine history, and, um, I'm one of the world's top experts on sf fanzine and sf fan history, and so I'm, er, in a fair position to raise my eyebrow about 6th hand accounts that are somewhat kind of off.

For instance, there's a link there to this, but says:

Bjo Trimble of the WELcommittee was the roommate of David McDaniel, the key LASF fan who wrote the best MFU Ace paperbacks, which was fanfic published as pro before anyone even knew what the proper term "fanfic" was.
And this is just weird.

First of all, she's talking about Ted Johnstone, who was a hugely active fan from the Fifties through Seventies who was never known as "David McDaniel," but was a very unusual case of someone whose born, legal, name, was, yes, "David McDaniel," but whose activity in fandom was always "Ted Johnstone."

And the only time he ever used "David McDaniel" was when Terry commissioned him to do the pro U.N.C.L.E. books at ACE, and Ted used "David McDaniel" as his pseudonym, since almost no one knew that well-known fan Ted Johnstone had another name.

So that's more or else wrong, though sort of technically correct, right there. Then there's "key LASF fan" when what is meant is LASFS, which could hardly be a more famous sf organization in sf fandom, having been around since being the original LA chapter of the Science Fiction League, and when you can't get an elementary thing like that right, you know you're in trouble (though, of course, maybe it's just a typo -- but I'm thinking simple ignorance and distance from facts, perhaps unfairly).

And Ace paperbacks, which was fanfic published as pro before anyone even knew what the proper term "fanfic" was. Except that Terry was the one who commissioned those, I just spent a good deal of last night talking about him, I was a good friend of his, I know lots of the people who wrote those books, the writer doesn't refer to The Final Affair, and
she writes:

anyone even knew what the proper term "fanfic" was
Aside from, you know, the thousands of us there at the time, and my friends who wrote it, and me who has had most of these zines, can give you the phone numbers of the people who did them, whom I'm friends with, and we're "anyone" and we're not dead.

She's talking about my good friends, and the people I worked with and still communicate with on a daily or weekly or regular basis, or otherwise can get in touch with by picking up the phone or sending a message, and who otherwise form my personal universe, or a very large slice of my entire life, and it's so weird to see this stuff written about in such a seventh-hand distant, not-quite-right manner. Why not just ask the people involved who actually know??

I know, because the writers don't actually know the actual people, and thus are going on 7th hand accounts.

But to me, it's bizarre.

Sorry to go semi-off-topic from LJ, but I just trip over this.

Part of this is just passage of time, so that there are generation gaps, and stuff that was once "now" to all of "us" has since become myth and lore and legend to y'all kids to whom the same stuff is now "then" and... there's a tangle of who "anyone" is, from distance in time and space, but the distance really isn't all that great if you just talk first hand instead of seventh hand, or fourth or third hand.

And Camille Bacon-Smith wasn't around at the time, and all these odd academic histories of media fandom are already four times removed. I wonder how many of those involved have ever actually read the original zines, or talked to the writers, but I know that they certainly weren't around at the time to get them new in the mail, or a year after the fact, or at the cons, like I was. Or hanging with the people involved for decades, or living with them, or seeing them every week, or last week, or chatting with them on Facebook or email in, um, ten minutes.

Most of plain old vanilla sf fandom that went online in the Nineties and early 2000s went to LJ; it's not just media fans; there's a selective blindness by implying that somehow "media fandom" was particularly more drawn to LJ than the rest of sf fandom.

And that brings up the weird hostility that so many LJs have towards Facebook, but that's an even more divergent topic, save that it isn't, because the most vociferous anti-Facebook LJs have tended to cite what an "evil corporation" Facebook is, and when I've pointed out that had plenty of its own kerfuffles, and people storming off to form all those other competing Journal groups (greatjournal, etc.) and that LJ was owned by a company with major ties to the Russian mob and former state security thugs, tend to brush right past that as somehow irrelevant.

I note without surprise that the LJ Wikipedia entry tends to be rather drastically different in its history account every week I look at it, too.

There's actually a reason LJ became very popular with (on the one hand) Russians and (on the other hand) fangirls: both groups had good reason to want a controllable degree of privacy and pseudonymity with their Internet communication.

That's an interesting correlation, but is there any evidence backing up a causation claim? Are there any prominent Russian LJers who specifically cite the ability to publish friends-locked entries as the reason why they use LJ?

I ask because you can get country-wide adoption of a single company's internet product without features really mattering. For example, I know some ex-Yahoo engineers and they emphasized that Yahoo had astonishingly high market share in some countries long after other portal sites, including homegrown local ones, were offering a much better experience. The reasons aren't super clear, but if I had to guess, I'd say that (1) network effects probably played a big part, (2) a very large number of internet users seem to keep going back to the same sites they learned about when they first went online, even years later, and (3) the staggered nature of internet adoption might also play a role.

I agree with Turbulence. The writer of this post really needs to at least do the cursory research to show that LJ is popular among Russian bloggers because of the friends-locking feature. What features of LJ are popular among the Russian userbase is hardly an arcane subject. This article suffers from a lack of perspectives from Russians who use LJ, and instead hinges around an ill-informed speculation without any evidence at all backing it up.

This post sure told me things I didn't know before. I am looking forward to reading more. Thanks.

Gary, since Fanlore is a wiki, how about going and editing it yourself to correct things, then? Or pointing those people at it so they can correct their own words. That is how a wiki works.

Gary has previously noted that he could make an entire income-free career out of correcting en.wikipedia.org, and declines to do so.

It's been suggested to me many times by colleagues that I write some books on sf history, and sf fan history, and I'd have to immodestly agree that there are few more qualified.

However, there's little chance of anyone being interested in publishing such works beyond the usual run of small presses which pay, in essence, nothing, nor of selling enough copies to make any significant level of royalties, so unless someone would like to offer me $20k a year or so to engage in such activities, I'll stick to not being paid for blogging, where, as it happens, I also write about what did and did not happen in sf history and fannish history.

In any case, we've been writing on fanhistory since Jack Speer wrote Up To Now in 1939, Sam Moskowitz wrote the articles that became The Immortal Storm, Harry Warner, Jr. wrote the All Our Yesterdays, Speer did Fancyclopedia in 1944, we have Fancyclopedia 3 (if I wanted to work on a fanhistory wiki), we have plenty of fannish reference works, Terry Carr started doing Entropy Reprints in the Fifties, the number of columnns on fanhistory numbers in the hundreds, and articles in the thousands, and that's if we referred only to all that written pre-internet, let alone since, the Timebinders mailing list, and in short: there's no lack of writing on fanhistory, or people knowledgeable of it.

A lot hasn't made it onto the internet in clearly accessible and organized form, but a lot has, and there's always talk of more -- there was yet another panel at the last Corflu, there are endless convention panels on doing fanhistory work, I was the guy who created the first regional fanhistory displays at Lunacon 1975, '76, and '77, and the first Worldcon fanhistory display at SunCon in 1977, supervised what we had in '78, did the fanhistory display again in '80, 82, 83, and 84, co-edited the initial Fanhistorica, and on and on and on, for decades, so I've kind of put in my time.

And life is short.

Thanks muchly for the suggestion, though. If I had thirty clones, it would be a fine thing to do.

Something I'd like to do in the not infinite future is get all these audio files of the nearly complete program of the 1978 Worldcon that came into my hands recently put up online. It's only a matter of finding the time, in my Copious Spare Time, to do so.

And I apologize for having written a somewhat incoherent and wandering comment previously, but I've got a lot stored up on these sort of odd and vague fifth-hand accounts of fanhistory that have been appearing on the net in recent years, and in ever more remotely written academic papers and book form, and so: a) I tend to sputter, and b) this really does require a long form approach, not a comment on someone else's post, particularly when the point is deeply tangential, and c) I shouldn't write when I'm just waking up, and d) sometimes I should just exercise more discretion, more patience, and edit myself more.

I'll note that there's lots of good -- and sometimes not as good -- fanhistory material at fanac.org and efanzines.com

And there's lots of good material at many of these other fan wikis, as well. A lot of this also gets into matters of perspective, and perfectly legitimate angles of approach, somewhat differing if overlapping subject matters, subjectivity, and other perfectly reasonable matters to agree and disagree about.

I really shouldn't write about such things without doing so in a broader and more careful way. I have my own issues, as well, with the way a lot of the older, "traditional" sf fans tend to wall themselves off within their own mailing lists, fanzines, cliques, and so on. I'd love to see a more unified and larger approach by all knowledgeable of the wide variety of fanhistory, traditional, media, fanfiction, slash, and so on.

Unfortunately, lots of the stuff that people try to put on Wikipedia gets taken out as challenged for either lacking general interest, or the fanzines are regarded as sufficient sources, and then there's the problem that people's own testimony as to what they themselves did isn't regarded as legitimate. This is not a new problem with Wikipedia.

And most of the older fans who are highly knowledgeable about fanhistory are content that we have thousands of fanzine articles about it, and tend to, to my deep frustration, take little interest in making the info available to the modern internet world and younger generations.

So there's a generation gap of knowledge, as well as some clashes of culture, all of which I deeply regret and would like to see bridged.

Without making it my life's work. My plate is more than a little full at present.

As a Russian Fangirl (though one that doesn't participate in the Russian blogsphere) loved, loved this article.

"or the fanzines are regarded as sufficient sources,"

Insufficient.

Hey, Gary, I'm a little late to the party here, and I'm just a Fanlore user, not somebody with an official role, but I wanted to mention two things: First, Fanlore is explicitly geared towards collecting nebulous oral history, so zines and "I'm editing this wiki and I say so" are both more than sufficient sources. The idea is to have everyone's point of view, even when they disagree, not to arrive at a "neutral" Truth like on Wikipedia.

Second, I know Fanlore is described on the site as being about "fandom" history, but... forgive me if I'm wrong here, but reading your comments is making me think that when you see 'fandom', sans qualifiers, you're thinking of traditional SF fandom, and you're assuming that's what the site is about. It's not.

Most current Fanlore users using 'fandom' sans qualifiers are thinking of women writing anime fanfic on the internet or publishing slash zines about buddy cops in the 80s or something of that sort. Some may not even know that "fandom" can mean SF fandom and not fanfiction-writing fandom. (Well, ok, I don't know if anybody like that is editing Fanlore right now, but it's an attitude I run into frequently on Livejournal.) The resources you've linked to look great and probably are a better use of your own time, but that's not the "fandom" I, as a Fanlore user, am chronicling.

SF fandom isn't something I've ever been involved with. It's the (at this point far distant) origin for the media fandom part of the fanfic fandoms I'm in, It's irrelevant to the anime fandom parts, and it's arguable what connection it has to... say... Sherlock Holmes pastiche. SF fandom deserves to be documented, but not by me, and not by my part of "fandom". That's probably why some Fanlore entries get a bit of a "Back in the Olden Days" sound to them. (That and the fact that Fanlore is still pretty new and has a small pool of active contributors.)

I'd love it if people from traditional SF fandom contributed their own history and views, of course, but when I take a lot of time collecting primary sources and tracking down fans myself, they're from my part of fandom. As you said, there are only so many hours in the day. :)

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