unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
In place of a list of stuff I did, here’s some musings on a few simple changes I made to the tech setup of the wiki that are saving me a lot of time and frustration. Looks worse, works better!

I’ve been adding a lot more words to the glossary of fandom terminology in Japanese and English over the past weeks, but none of those ever actually showed up on the page. Up to now, I was adding the words in a separate google spreadsheet and importing them into the wiki as they got finished. Turns out that I often didn’t bother updating the glossary because I was tired from other things and the importing step just seemed like one hurdle too many. Now I just embedded the google spreadsheet straight into the page. It looks messier, but I’ll take that in exchange for a more hassle-free workflow.

I’d been trying out a lot of options for displaying my bibliography in the wiki as well, mostly focused on several promising MediaWiki extensions. None of them worked exactly like they had to, though, and all of them would have necessitated regularly importing new stuff from Zotero. That program is my one true love for collecting and manipulating bibliographic data, but its online display interface is confusing and irritating enough that I hate sending people directly there (example). But importing stuff from Zotero into a simpler display in the wiki would create the same problem as with the glossary - an extra step in the getting-stuff-done process that I’d get sick of in very short order. I’m not going to update some other place every time I add or change something in Zotero; this has to happen automagically.

The only way to sync a Zotero bibliography with something outside of it like that is by pulling in content via Zotero’s RSS feed. Zotero has all the RSS feeds you could ever dream of - for whole libraries, collections, subcollections, individual tags, what have you. (Not author, natch.) That’s great, because you can theoretically call up an automatically updated list of pretty much whatever you need wherever you want it: a short list of recommended reading on a particular topic, a full giant bibliography, and so on. The problem is that actual order of items as they’re pulled into the wiki via the Zotero RSS feed is pretty useless. They’re displayed in chronological order, by date added, and that makes no sense for a display for a bibliography of resources on a thing. Nobody will ever be able to find anything in my giant bibliography if it’s sorted by date added.

This flummoxed me for a while until I found out about changing an RSS feed’s display using parameters in the URL. In an RSS feed URL like the ones you get from Zotero out of the box, like https://api.zotero.org/users/14360/collections/FH46FU3G/items/top?start=0&limit=25, the “limit=25” bit is a parameter: it says how many items to display, max. The first thing I did was put a very big number in there, because the thing needs to display all items, not just 25. Then I needed a parameter to control the order in which the items were displayed. It seems like parameters for RSS feeds are not very standardized and sort of all over the place, but I tried out the likely-sounding ones, and “order=title” did the thing for Zotero. The end result, https://api.zotero.org/users/14360/collections/FH46FU3G/items/top?start=0&order=title&limit=500, displays up to 500 items from an RSS feed in alphabetical order by title. Much better! There are more parameters to control what info an RSS feed displays. Given how many sources of information online have RSS feeds but no other way to pull data out of them and into something else, this is going to come in reeeeally handy. There’s so much basic stuff about the internet that I haven’t discovered yet :/

Again, the resulting display doesn’t look nearly as nice as the ones generated by dedicated bibliography-related MediaWiki plugins. For one, there’s no way to display author as well as title, because of a stupid thing in Zotero’s RSS feeds that I can’t change. But it’s good enough for the purpose it has to serve, and it’ll keep working even if I don’t give it any thought again from now until Christmas.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
The new academic book Manga's Cultural Crossroads is very shiny and has several chapters on fans, including one by me on Harry Potter fan comics on deviantART and pixiv. Writing this one was as fun as it was hard, and I'm terribly pleased with how it turned out *cuddles book*

I can't upload the actual chapter for the usual copyright reasons, but here's an earlier unpublished, non-peer-reviewed version of the text that I hope you may enjoy. Please poke me with any thoughts or suggestions - what's published is published, but I hope to use a lot of this in my PhD dissertation as well.

It has become commonplace for English-language studies about Japanese- and English-speaking fans of manga to mention that the Internet in general and social networking services (SNSs) in particular play a crucial role for the functioning of contemporary "transcultural" fan communities. DeviantART and pixiv, for instance, are two famous image-based SNSs that have become hubs for very active fan communities centered around the exchange of fannish visual media. Such services are not just convenient places to socialize and maintain fan communities, but also distribution systems whose functionality is geared exactly towards what fans want to do with the works they create: share them, and have them appreciated and talked about by other fans.

Several recent studies have focused on how fans use SNSs as communication hubs or as distribution platforms. However, it may be misleading to present these two functions as wholly separate, as no more than the “Internet versions” of pre-digital forms of communication and distribution. Research on the nature and effects of interactions around media on SNSs shows that the “digital conversations” that take place on SNSs have their own particular characteristics that influence what can be said, who can say it, and what the results of the conversation can be. These characteristics profoundly influence not just the interpretations of media distributed through these services, but also the very content of the media themselves.

In this chapter, I make a first attempt at clarifying the complex ways in which the particular nature of digital conversations (boyd and Heer 2006) works to influence fannish interactions on SNSs, with a special focus on how these digital conversations on SNSs help or hinder transcultural interactions between Japanese- and English-speaking fans of manga, comics and other media. I conduct a comparative case study of digital conversations around a particular kind of fanwork that is often distributed and discussed through SNSs: fan-created comics and manga (also called doujinshi). More specifically, I focus on "Harry Potter"-based fan-created comics and manga distributed via deviantART and pixiv.
unjapanologist: (Default)
I'm preparing to move back to Belgium in a couple of months, and one of the things that needs to be sorted out is what the best data plans for smartphones are over there. It's been two years and everything is different. To my great annoyance, Belgium still hasn't invented the unlimited data plan; the most I can get per month is 2 gig, which is just low enough to make me worry about overshooting it and paying an arm and a leg for using an extra 30 megabytes or something. (My first experience with this came a few years ago when I visited my grandmother in the hospital. I decided to download her favorite CD from iTunes on the spot so she'd have some music to listen to. Grandma was successfully cheered up for a while, but apparently I'd overshot my monthly data allowance already, and my good deed turned up on my mobile bill to the tune of 80 euros a few weeks later.)

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Addendum to that recent whine about how politicians have a responsibility to get educated about the internet: "mainstream" media need such education at least as badly. The internet has become crucial not just to many people's personal lives, but to the functioning of whole societies. There are very many people who don't have the time or the inclination to read a slew of tech news RSS feeds, and established news outlets have a responsibility to bring their audiences comprehensive and correct information about important internet-related events.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Apparently Summit Entertainment had a picture by artist Kelly Howlett yanked from Zazzle because they believed - wrongly - that she was selling Twilight fan art.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
About a week ago, The Mary Sue reported that some major tech news sites are apparently using the fact that Pinterest has a majority of female users as an excuse to write sexist copy:Read more... )

I'm not on Pinterest myself yet, although several people have recommended it and it looks quite shiny. But I already feel so terribly behind for not having a tumblr. People on tumblr, why is Gizmodo saying that Pinterest is Tumblr for Ladiez, aside from that they're dumb? Is tumblr that dominated by male users? Just from browsing around on it, I never got the impression that tumblr is heavily skewed towards one topic or another. There are lots of porn tumblrs, apparently, but there are lots of porn everythings. I was half considering making a porn tumblr myself for the more mature A:tLA art that I'm too embarrassed to post under any of my existing handles.

ETA: More links and analysis at How to stop being a Pinterest sexist
unjapanologist: (hey ozai)
Two articles recently accepted for publication/presentation: "Why we should talk about commodifying fan work" will appear in Transformative Works and Cultures in November, and "Open source production as a model for commodification of derivative works" will be presented at the Asian Workshop on Cultural Economics, which is organized by the the Association of Cultural Economics Japan and takes place on November 27-28 this year, in Kyoto.

As the titles suggest, these two are very closely related, and I'm thrilled that they can be published more or less together. The TWC piece is the tl;dr version of the post I did yesterday about Keith Mander, and the open source paper is the even more tl;dr version of a footnote attached to the TWC piece. Both talk about the cultural economy of fanwork, but since each is written for a different crowd (fan studies people and cultural economics people), they have a somewhat different focus. The TWC text argues that commodification of fanworks may be inevitable, and why this could be a good thing for fandom. The open source text is basically a thinking exercise/tentative proposal about how "derivative" works such as fanworks could be commodified in practice, based on principles associated with open source production.


Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
For those of us who read Dutch, a new report on the state of the comics industry in Belgium includes an article by Haruyuki Nakano (author of Manga Sangyoron) on the spectacular rise and quite exciting possibilities of manga on cellphones in Japan and Asia. The article starts from page 49 of this rather large pdf version of the report. Published by SMartBe, translated from the Japanese by me.

It's a fascinating read, especially because we're always being inundated by doomtastic reports about the declining sales of paper manga and magazines that fail to point out how well the digital part of the manga market is actually doing. Nakano says that the market for digital literature in Japan is currently worth a good 500 million euros, and over four fifths of that is generated by digital manga. That's sixteen (16) times the size of that same digital market was in 2005.

If you can get past the smaller screen, distributing digital manga and comics via cellphones makes a lot of sense. You probably have the platform already in your pocket right at this moment: everyone and their dog owns a cellphone, while the iPad and similar tablets are owned by a very small percentage of the world population, and are still expensive and cumbersome in comparison. Cellphones are a much more widespread and much more democratic medium than dedicated readers or tablets. Going through cumbersome signups or transmitting credit card details is also not necessary when buying manga over a cellphone, because the price of any manga you purchase is just added to the monthly phone bill. All in all, a very user-friendly model, if you overlook the fact that manga bought via a cellphone probably can't be read on any other devices (should look into that).

For the curious among us, there's some more resources on cellphone manga in our manga research knowledge base.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Important notice! The main online home of my PhD research, this drupal site, is such fun to tinker with that it's become a a tremendously powerful procrastination-enabling device. I constantly find myself focusing more on the site itself than on creating actual content for it. So, I'm at least temporarily moving my center of operations to my Dreamwidth journal. The project itself is still exactly the same, and my commitment to open notebook research remains. In fact, it will be easier to follow because I'll be linking from Dreamwidth to research data stored on other shiny software services, instead of trying to recreate the functionality of these services on a personal website. All research data are linked to from the sidebar of the journal. I probably won't crosspost everything to the drupal site, so you may want to update any RSS subscriptions to the Dreamwidth feed. The drupal site isn't closing: I want to get back to it later, and there's a lot of links going there. I'm just putting it in cryofreeze temporarily because it's become a time sinkhole. Time to focus on creating content instead of playing with software all day long.

And on that note, I have a paper to finish, so I'll wax poetic about my favourite software services some other time. For those of you who aren't familiar with Dreamwidth, I very much hope you'll enjoy it -it's a rather wonderful open project.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Quick recap: Kristina Busse's keynote "Affect and the individual fan" was given at the Textual Echoes conference and can be viewed in its entirety online. Read more... )

Really stopping now. Part three will be on affect (still Kristina's keynote) and cute little kittens! (Edited for major html fail)
unjapanologist: (Default)
This post is abominally late, yes, and I have multiple fine excuses, but let's skip that part. Three weeks ago the conference Textual Echoes: Fan Fiction and Sexualities was held at Umea University, Sweden, in the gorgeous HUMlab space. It was a very inspiring experience, and I've been trying to string together a million separate thoughts about it without becoming totally incoherent. This resulted in a mile-long text chock full of links that no sane person would ever wade through, so I'll be splitting it up and publishing it in installments. (Also because if I delay posting until the text is entirely finished, I won't be posting for another week at least, which would be a tad pathetic.) So, first things first -the conference in general and my reason for being there.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
As I've been tinkering with the tools I want to use for my upcoming Ph.D research (mainly online tools like content management systems, blogs, bookmarking services etc), I've also been doing a lot of thinking about what the first post on this new research blog should be. Some fascinating and perfectly worded explanation about the goals of the project, something polished and preferably very impressive to any future reader who might raffle through older blog posts to see how this all began.


unjapanologist: (Default)

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