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Spacecrab's Journal
LB in SF
Boskone/LJ Reach Out 
16th-Feb-2006 03:59 pm
Hello to those of you not on my LJ friends list -- and to any non-LJ members who've noticed this journal and taken time to read it over the past two years.

I've decided that I'd like to use my upcoming trip to Boskone as a springboard/excuse to see if anyone out there is reading what I write on LJ. If you're an LJ participant and/or Boskone attendee who doesn't already know me, please feel free to pop up in comments or at the convention and say hi.

I've been in a quiet period of emotional and financial reconstruction for most of the three or four years in which Livejournal has flourished. I've been gradually recovering from post-9/11 depressions; financial and neurochemical. Last Fall, Lady Luck decided to let me rejoin the world of adequately-paid, middle class IT professionals. So I'm free once more (bwa-hah, snerk) to fly from city to city. I can rejoin the floating hotel party commonly known as "convention fandom."

I'm attempting a little evolution, here. I've never really known what to do with Livejournal, except to use it as a sporadic editorial platform -- for convenient distribution to longtime friends in the science fiction community. I haven't used LJ much as a diary or as a parlor game. The accepted wisdom for smart kids, as I've heard it, is that a blog is a blog. Livejournal is a hosting service, the same as any other. In the fanzine publishing community, we make a distinction between "genzines" (general interest magazines) and apazines (closed-circulation epistles primarily designed to contain review and response to a fixed group of participants). It seems to me that this distinction retains some validity for online journals, if we recognize that the "closed circulation" part of it doesn't apply much, anymore.

I have the feeling that, except for people on my "Friends Of" list, no one reads my LJ. That's making me wonder whether I've become a trilobite.

I'm someone who's written and published paper fanzines since the 1960s, growing up with the notion that I've always been and always would be an intellectual/emotional misfit. I grew up identifying with the culture of science fiction fandom as a special phenomenon for social rebels. For me, as a teenager, s-f fandom was akin to the Beat movement of the '50s, the Hippie counterculture of the '60s, or the Punk rebellion of the '70s. I have a longtime emotional investment in the notion of "fandom" being a vanguard phenomenon for artistic/literary/political expression. I'm not quite adjusted, yet, to the notion of s-f fandom as one mainstream special interest group in a larger universe of literate online communication.

I've been both a rock and roll journalist (Creem, Who Put the Bomp), and a Dawn Age computer professional (contributing editor for Microtimes for ten years, and columnist for Boardwatch Magazine). In the 1990s, I thrilled to see my fancesters (like S-F legend Damon Knight) learning to use modems and computers. Science fiction fandom reinvented itself in the 1990s, on the GEnie Science Fiction Roundtable and Usenet. In a parallel substratum, pioneer Wellbeing Howard Rheingold gathered literary freaks and cyber-rebels to his open virtual community, "Electric Minds."

Old mind habits die hard. Emotionally, I'm used to feeling that eclectic communities like those are the Whole Show. The science fiction fandom I've been part of all my life still exists. But the overriding fact of the 21st century is that we've passed through a Singularity (in the form of a well-developed Internet that has allowed many smart, literate blogging communities to materialize). The old science fiction fandom is no longer alone. It no longer defines the dominant set of paradigms for literary/literate malcontents to communicate, (1) For bloggers in the present day, I sometimes think "the old science fiction fandom" has a passing resemblance to "the old Negro space program." One really happened (we have the paper fanzines and convention memory books to prove it), and the other is a cleverly-conceived art-myth. But who, outside of a band of 1,000 diehards, actually cares which is which?

I'm thinking about all this in trying to prepare for a couple of Boskone panels that I'm scheduled to appear on. Note to self: try not to get stuck on the "Ghost of Fandoms Past" thing and have some fun. I'd like to face the fact that the world is changing without feeling alienated. If my younger self were typing all this out for a weekly apazine, this post probably would have been titled:

"This Helmuth I Suppose -- is Off to Hobnob with Fellow Zwilnicks"
The tynes they are a changeling .........

But that would most likely result in my usual quota of 0 to 2 comments. (I wouldn't have to explain it to kalimac, anyway.) I guess I'll find out, presently, whether this more-carefully constructed long-windedness draws any attention. I'm not quite up to constructing a Quizilla "Which Mimeograph Ink Are You?" meme.

FWIW: My Boskone schedule: (2)

Friday 9:00 pm
What I've Learned From Fandom
Lenny Bailes
Vince Docherty
Parris McBride (M)
Mike Resnick
Peter Weston

Saturday10:00 am
Online Writing and Online Communities
Lenny Bailes
Tobias Buckell
James D. Macdonald
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
John Scalzi (M)

(See above)

Saturday 2:00 pm
Why Graphic Novels (Sometimes?) Work
Lenny Bailes
Pam Fremon
Geary Gravel
Teresa Nielsen Hayden (M)

Sunday 10:00 am
Whither Animation?
Lenny Bailes
Bob Devney (M)
Esther Friesner
Timothy Liebe
Timothy P. Szczesuil

Sunday 12:00 noon
SF as Literature?
Lenny Bailes
F. Brett Cox
William Hartmann
James Patrick Kelly (M)
Chad Orzel

(1) However, as Teresa Nielsen Hayden has observed, s-f fandom may still own the best models and tools to organize "meatspace" conventions for "virtual space" communicators.

(2) Remember to say hello, if you see me there and feel inclined to do it.
17th-Feb-2006 12:48 am (UTC)
Hello! This response is merely to inform you that I read your journal, having randomly friended it because I was attracted to amount of consideration that appeared to be going into it. Although I have no comment to make regarding today's entry, I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts via LJ, I like reading what you write.
17th-Feb-2006 01:17 am (UTC)
I'm reading. You can generally assume that your only regular readers are the people who have "Friended" you. Thus, if you want more readers, "Friend" more people, and they'll then notice you and possibly add you to their "Friends" list. You can also attract attention by commenting. Park it and Loc it.

17th-Feb-2006 02:24 am (UTC)
I'm not sure that LJ works very well for editorials, but I'll have to think about the topic for another week or so before I can give you more of an answer about that.

As K said, it also helps if you Friend more people.

One thing LJ can work brilliantly for is social networking, especially setting up social gatherings at a con. Alas, I won't be at Boskone (or Potlatch, for that matter) myself, but I admit that got an LJ partly after seeing how all the British fans used LJ around Novacon a few years ago.
17th-Feb-2006 05:16 pm (UTC)
I agree with minnehaha and bibliofile about the importance of Friending and of commenting in other people's journals if you want to get response to your own posts. But I can't claim to understand how to get the kind of cascading response that some posters (mostly women, from my experience) get on LJ. On the other hand, a lot of times the busiest posts seem to consist of social grooming, rather than intellectual discussion.

Seems like you're implying that LJ is similar to APAs, which seems true. I never cared for APAs much, because I could never figure out how to get response there either. But one of the things I've ended up liking about LJ is the whole journal aspect of it. It's a way of reflecting on whatever I'm occupied with at the moment -- "a good place to get some thinking done." It doesn't always matter that I get a response, because sometimes I'm just writing for myself, and yet making it public makes me put a little more care into it.
17th-Feb-2006 06:32 pm (UTC) - Yes
I agree with everybody (so what else is new?) I should have known that you, of all people, would not only "be a relic" (as am I) but the kind of relic who had put a whole lot of thought and responsible writing into knowing exactly where you were and why. I've found LJ a bit frustrating because, in apas, I might very well get a lengthy response to match the length of my original comment on a certain topic, whereas here on LJ, it's more likely to be just a sentence or two; so in this regard, LJ is a bit less like an apa. I am perpetuating the problem by talking about things that have happened in my life, which is *not* the same thing as talking on topics of general interest. But as far as what you should do: Do what's right for you. More friends (on either side) will lead to more comments. (I'm not friending a whole lot of people because I would really rather just stay in touch with people I know, though there are a couple of new ones -- exapno and numbat -- to whom I'm giving a chance.) Hang in there, and you and I will presumably remain in touch.

Nate Bucklin (markiv1111)
20th-Apr-2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
Hi Lenny. I'm not really a fan anymore, but now that I'm aware of your LJ I will read it. Cheers.

I think you were the first person ever to ask me to write a column for a fanzine. Either you or Sharee Carton, I'm not sure.
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