unjapanologist: (Default)
Late announcement because I spent the last three weeks at a conference and then recovering my brain, but I successfully defended my PhD in Japanese Studies on October 27. YESSS DONE. I have a lot to say about what I found, where the research is going now, and where I'm going professionally, but for now I just want to point out where the stuff is.

In very short, the research describes the basics of how dojinshi (fan-made manga) are exchanged in Japan, and tries to think about what that system of exchange means for fans/companies/other stakeholders in the Japanese cultural economy. Although I went in with the aim of getting a degree in Japanese Studies, the research was conducted and written up with an audience of English-speaking fans and fan studies scholars in mind. I look at dojinshi exchange through two closely related lenses that others have also used to frame creation and exchange of "amateur" works - "hybrid economies" and "open source cultural goods". This led to a lot of food for thought, especially in relation to how fanworks are exchanged and sometimes monetized elsewhere, like on the English-speaking internet. More about the actual results in later posts.

Here's a more structured summary of the research in presentation format. Made for the defense, so it's still very condensed, but it has more details and pretty pictures.



(First and last time that I've ever used my uni's official boring template for a presentation. I wanted to do it just once.)

Secondly, you can get the full text of the thesis on http://www.nelenoppe.net/dojinshi/thesis, divided into the following chapters:

The thesis text linked to here is what I defended last month, but it isn't meant to be final. It's more of a snapshot of ongoing work. The text is on a wiki, so it can and will change as facts or interpretations evolve. (For instance, in a discussion about the accessibility of various dojinshi distribution channels for non-Japanese fans, I talk at some length about how Japanese dojinshi retailer Toranoana doesn't ship outside the country. But Toranoana has actually started shipping outside Japan now, so I'll have to change that bit soon.)

Because the text is likely to be modified and corrected a lot, I decided not to put a fixed PDF on the site. If you want a PDF, epub or odt version, you can have one generated on the fly from the latest up-to-date version of the wiki text. Everything is licensed CC-BY-SA, so please use it! More wiki talk soon, there will be much more on there as the giant thesis text is ummm reprocessed into more practical formats, for instance in Fanlore and Wikipedia articles.

Comments/corrections/critique/requests for info are extremely welcome. There's a comments section under every chapter, and the homepage of the wiki contains info about where else I can be reached. There's a lot of rough spots and holes in the research still, but at least I have over 100K actual finished written words to build on now. *beams*

I hope this will be a fun and useful read, especially for all the many fannish and academic friends who helped me out and cheered me on over the years. THANK YOU.
unjapanologist: (Default)
The info on fan culture that's on English-language Wikipedia right now is lacking to say the least, and what's there on dojinshi is not very great either. My Japanese advisor is visiting for a couple of months, and she actually printed out the English-language Wikipedia article on dojinshi and brought it so she could rail at me about everything that's wrong with it.

Given how many people start and stop with Wikipedia when they're trying to find out what something is, having bad info on there is a real problem. Must fix! I'll tackle the main article later, but for now, here are a couple of short articles on some basic dojinshi exchange concepts:

They're very incomplete still, please edit further. I'll put the texts up on Fanlore too later.

I built them mostly out of thesis draft bits, and rewriting them to Wikipedia standards was a surprising amount of work. Particularly the "no original research" rule was hard. It says you can only state facts that you can source, no editorializing, which is very sensible in and of itself. But clearing writing of all editorializing, ummm cough academic analysis, was so much work that I'm not sure I can motivate myself to do this often. Maybe should figure out how to mark up text in the thesis draft so I can strip out the editorializing automatically for Wikipedia purposes.

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
I've got a little more than a year to go with my PhD on dojinshi, so it's high time to start writing the final dissertation and put more concrete results out on the internets. It's more motivating to write in public, and of course I also hope that people will come in and poke me with corrections or suggestions while there's still time to take those comments into account. (Please do, I will love you forever and credit you all over the place. And make thank-you drabbles/drawbles if you want any.)

My online presence has changed quite a bit over the last few years, so I thought I'd give a quick update about where to get info or updates about the research:
  • I've started writing the dissertation and am posting short daily updates about progress on Tumblr, with links to the stuff that's been done.
  • Unjapanologist's Dojinshi Research is the wiki where I'm drafting my dissertation.
  • This Dreamwidth journal is updated only now and then when there's something bigger to report, and I don't forget to report it - times are busy. My apologies for the sparse updates here. Please check out the wiki or Tumblr for the most recent stuff.
  • Shorter or more incoherent things go into Twitter
  • Various notes and quotes for research that haven't been processed anywhere else yet are in an online notes and quotes book.
  • Other academic works and projects I've done up to now are on Academia.edu, with full text copies of articles, links to all presentations etc etc.
Quick basics: my PhD research focuses on doujinshi, Japanese print fanworks that are often sold for money with the tacit approval of copyright holders. I frame doujinshi exchange as a hybrid economy that straddles fannish gift economies and commercial economies. By comparing these fanworks with other kinds of works that are exchanged in such “hybrid” economies, like open source software, I’m developing a vocabulary for explaining fanworks as a sort of “open source cultural goods” that fit in very well with many other “open” movements today. Open source is already a well-known and well-understood mechanism for “non-professionals” to create valuable things for the sake of fun and community instead of for profit, while still interacting in a mutually beneficial way with the commercial economy as well. I’m convinced that framing fanworks as part of an “open” movement should be very helpful in explaining (also to non-fannish open culture activists, policymakers, and so on) what role fanworks play in the broader cultural economy.

*ties on victory bandana*
unjapanologist: (Default)
New post by me on the OTW's main blog, about the importance of open access for fan studies and what I think open access really means. It also includes a small teaser for an upcoming project that I and a few other OTW folks have been hammering away at for months. (Why yes, I am kind of preoccupied with this open access thing.)

Many thanks to everyone who helped improve the text!
unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
HuffPo brings a pile of bizarre with 50 Shades of Grey in Scientific Publication: How Digital Publishing Is Harming Science. A scholar called Douglas Fields argues against open access, mainly by attempting to paint it as a dastardly government takeover of science that will mean the end of rigorous research. I was a little disappointed that he didn't actually call open access communist.

The article is plenty strange and sad in and of itself; anyone who can write with a straight face that "A corporate/government financial alliance is replacing scholarly publication once organized and run by scientists and academics" has a very, very idealistic view of the sort of traditional academic publishing that open access is trying to revolutionize.

And then comes this comparison:

Similar changes are eroding literary publication as direct electronic publication by authors on the Internet has led to erotic and reportedly pornographic works like Fifty Shades of Grey and spinoffs sweeping bestsellers lists for months. The issue is not whether erotica or pornography is or should be popular; rather, one wonders what literary work might have filled those slots on the bestsellers lists if traditional mechanisms of editor-evaluated publication had been applied, which consider more than simply the potential popularity of a work in deciding what to publish.

One wonders indeed.

This man lives in a very strange reality. But I love, love, love the idea of equating open access with 50 Shades! It means that advocating for open publication of my research is just like polluting my pure academic environment with BDSM porn. I feel totally all right with conceptualizing my work in that way. Maybe I should make some mugs and t-shirts for other open access-loving fan studies people.
unjapanologist: (Default)
The European Fandom & Fan Studies Conference took place on November 10, 2012 at the University of Amsterdam. It was a relatively small one-day conference, but great in terms of content and people present. I was especially pleased to see so many researchers going beyond English-language online fandoms, tackling offline fan activities or doing comparative studies with other online fandoms that communicate in different languages. There was also a strong emphasis on how fans interact with media industries and deal with fannish activities that involve money, which is one of my favorite topics. I heard a ton of interesting ideas, and others clearly did too.

But I'll let our past selves speak for themselves. Here's a Storify with all the tweets from the #eurofandom tag, grouped by presentation as much as possible.

There were a couple of participants tweeting at least semi-regularly, and I'm surprised at how much of what happened at the conference comes across pretty well by looking at the tweets. With just a handful of Twitter-happy attendees plus Storify, it's very easy to leave a permanent record of the goings-on at any conference for anyone who wants or needs to see what was said there.

It's not a perfect system. The technology has to work, obviously; I attend plenty of conferences were wifi is still not assumed to be necessary, and even at this one, the network was a bit troublesome. Conferences with parallel panels also need at least a small group to cover everything more or less thoroughly. There were a couple of presentations during which all the really active tweeters happened to be in a different room, or temporarily comatose because of jetlag in my case, and these presentations are conspicuously absent from the timeline. Perhaps conferences should make a bigger deal out of live-tweeting to encourage more people to pick up the slack? And designate a conference historian to make the Storify later on.

(Crossposted from the Symposium blog)
unjapanologist: (hey ozai)
At the European Fandom & Fan Studies Conference at the University of Amsterdam right now. The one-day conference just started and is being livetweeted with the hashtag #eurofandom. Drop in if you're interested! (No conference program online, alas.)

I'm just attending, not presenting, so I can spend all free mental time learning and tweeting and enjoying jetlag. Bliss.
unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
I'm increasingly convinced that all schools from the primary to higher level should establish new classes on the history and functioning of the internet. Every adult in the world should be forced to attend at least a semester of such a class. Policymakers who are involved in regulating the internet should be forced to attend and come back for remedial classes at regular intervals, because they need a well-developed bullshit radar to deal with the horrendous policy proposals that are lobbed at their heads all the freakin' time.

Read more... )We've seen a lot of bad recommendations for internet policy in the recent past, a lot of it related to misguided copyright enforcement initiatives, but this is really special. No anonymity? Constant oversight? Only real pictures as avatars? No using languages that the internet police doesn't speak? How on earth does this sort of baffling nonsense make it into the recommendations of an official body made up of grownups with brains?

The noxious influence of business interests is strong in this one; EDRI calls the whole initiative "little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry". What's kind of shocking here is not that business interests are trying to influence policymaking, though. That's been happening ever since businesses and policymaking came into existence. The real issue is that these sorts of recommendations have some chance of getting somewhere. They may or may not make it into law, but they will almost certainly end up influencing the policymakers who will lay eyes on them. Far too many of these people have no earthly idea how the internet works and what is necessary to keep the internet gears from turning. They don't have the necessary background knowledge and practical experience to recognize these "recommendations" for the harmful crap they are the moment the papers land on their desks. I shudder to think that serious lawmaking people will be looking this over, nodding along and assuming these ideas are very reasonable and terrorist-stopping.

Nobody can be expected to have a thorough grounding in every topic in existence, but the internet is no longer a "special" issue that you can ignore until some proposals come around, at which point you call in a "nerd" to explain things and tell you what to do. Knowing about the workings and needs of a functioning internet is as essential for a 21st-century public official as knowing about traffic rules. Every time you make a new rule, you should consider the effect it will have on the internet, and you should know how to do so. Back to school for everyone.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Remember Cecilia Gimenez, the lady who tried to restore a fresco in a church near Zaragoza and did it wrong? The story is twisting down some interesting paths, copyright-wise.

According to El Correo (in Spanish, English via gTranslate), thousands of people started visiting the church in the town of Borja after the botched restauration became famous on the internet. The church placed a collection box next to the "creatively restored" fresco, but few people left donations, so it was decided to charge admission to the building instead. Apparently they've earned about 2000 euros in just four days. Now Gimenez' family has called in lawyers to claim that she should get royalties, because the foundation that operates the church is making money off her work.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
 Translating a symposium piece for a future issue of Transformative Works and Cultures from Japanese to English: four hours of smooth, enjoyable working with occasional snags but overall good progress.

Translating and transcribing the bibliography to said piece and putting all the points and commas in the right places: a full extra fours hours of screaming frustration. *twitch* 

At least it was a paper on a topic similar to my own research, so now I can chuck the transcribed references into the awesome multilingual Zotero. Then I won't have to transcribe them again when I have to make the bibliography for my own dissertation (and that will be the worst week of my entire life for sure, no matter how much I desperately try to automate everything related to it).

Bibliography hatred aside, I heartily recommend OmegaT if you do translations on a regular basis. Open source, cross-platform, easy to use, bunches of automation goodness, and the dictionary can sync with my personal research terminology database. One of those programs that I'm truly grateful exist.
unjapanologist: (Default)
I moved all the links to research-related stuff and my other accounts on various online services that used to be on this journal to a professional homepage, because I need a place that showcases all research-related things I do online. Most of my online activity is on Twitter and Evernote, and it's kind of hard to show that in Dreamwidth because there's no RSS feed widget-like things to put in sidebars. I'll keep posting about research here as per usual.

All info is now on the new homepage, but it still looks fantastically boring. I made it in Drupal because that's what I'm used to, but I've been tinkering with WordPress lately and found it much easier and more pleasant for making really pretty things. Perhaps I'll switch to WordPress when I next have copious amounts of free time and am less inclined to fill it with fic writing and Teen Wolf watching.
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unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Today was the last day of the Japan Society for Research in Cartoons and Comics' annual big meetup, and the topic of the final session was doujinshi and copyright. On stage were a manga researcher, a fan researcher, an IP lawyer, a representative from a large publishing company, and a professional mangaka with strong ties to doujin fandom. They spent two hours tossing around ideas for how to legalize doujinshi and make sure that possible tightening of Japanese copyright law (via, say, the TPP) won't harm either doujinshi creators or media companies.

Read more... )

unjapanologist: (Default)
There's a lot of different ways in which you can screw up as an academic, from doing sloppy research full of methodological flaws and bad analysis (maybe so you can quickly monetize it as a popular book), to deliberately plagiarizing and denying other researchers credit for their work in an academic economy where people's reputations and jobs depend on being credited.

However, those are really just procedural issues in the end. There's also scholarship that is bad because it goes completely against the very purpose of scholarship, which is to advance knowledge for the good of the public that pays your salary. (In my book.)

Read more... )
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New post up at Symposium:

How much money do doujinshi creators actually make? Some statistics from Comiket

I discussed such a tiny, tiny bit of that whole Comiket survey, and it turned into a monster post. I think I need a computer setting that starts blaring sirens whenever I type something longer than 2000 words.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Rebecca Tushnet has posted a transcript of a hearing on the DMCA exemption that allows makers of non-commercial remix videos like vids and AMVs to circumvent the DRM on DVDs (something that's technically illegal) so they can create quality works with no more hassle than necessary. Along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The OTW was one of the organizations who helped get that exemption in 2010, and now they're fighting to have it renewed, because it was only valid for three years. (This page has all the links about how all this has been unfolding.)

The post includes the full text of Tushnet's own remarks, and a transcript of the remarks made by other proponents and opponents of the exemption. It's a great read overall, because it touches on so many reasons why DRM makes no sense for vidders - reasons that are nearly all applicable to several other fannish media as well. But the post is a bit long, so here are some snippets.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
I haven't paid much attention to 3-D printers yet, apart from gawking at videos of all kinds of crazy and gorgeous stuff that people are making with them. The printers are still a bit over the $500 price point right now, which is actually amazingly low, and I definitely want one if as soon as they get a bit more affordable. The possibilities! I'm so making a set of Jee and Zuko figures that are the right size to interact with my Jurassic Park toys. They can ride in the jeep and shoot tyrannosaurs with the little bazooka. I could also make LEGO Jee and Zuko, and Barbie Jee and Zuko, and porn Jee and Zuko and and and.

Here is a video about the possibilities and relevance of 3-D printers. It's plenty awesome all on its own, and I'm sure we all have more than enough imagination to translate this to fannish possibilities. (Not sure if this embed is working, please click the link above if it doesn't.)

Read more... )

unjapanologist: (Default)
For those who were interested in the different meanings of the word "genre" in doujin fandom a few months ago, I wrote a Fanlore article about it. Needs some polishing, but the basic info is all there.

Somehow, the hardest part about making Fanlore articles is the math captcha that you need to fill in to be allowed to create the page. It's not that the sums are difficult. You're just done with writing, you think you can switch your brain off now, and then SURPRISE MATH.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Forgot to mention this because the acceptance notification came while I was in Deadlineville. I finally get to visit the US! The place is pretty famous, so this is all rather exciting.

The main reason for this trip is Console-ing Passions, a feminist media studies conference that will take place in Boston on 19-21 July. l'll be part of Mel Stanfill's panel 'Media fandom and/as labor'. Rebecca Carlson and Karen Hellekson will be on that panel as well. It looks like I'll get to meet a ton of people I've only ever spoken with over the internet, which is awesome.  Read more... )
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Welcome to Life is "A science fiction story about what you see when you die. Or: the Singularity, ruined by lawyers."


Tom Scott: Welcome to Life (2.5 min)

Read more... )
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From now on I'll be doing some occasional posting at Symposium, the blog associated with the OTW's journal Transformative Works and Cultures. Symposium is a great place for meta, and I'm thrilled at this chance to contribute. Here's my introduction post.

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