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
Parris McBride (M)
Online Writing and Online Communities
James D. Macdonald
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
John Scalzi (M)
Saturday 2:00 pm
Why Graphic Novels (Sometimes?) Work
Teresa Nielsen Hayden (M)
Sunday 10:00 am
Bob Devney (M)
Timothy P. Szczesuil
Sunday 12:00 noon
SF as Literature?
F. Brett Cox
James Patrick Kelly (M)
(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.