Rhiannon Bury, Ruth Deller, Adam Greenwood, Bethan Jones, “From Usenet to Tumblr: The changing role of social media”, Participations. Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, vol. 10/1, 2013.
Abstract: The advent of social networking sites has made communication faster and easier than ever, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in fan communities. Bury (2005) argues that media fans have always been early adopters of new information and communication technologies, suggesting that from Usenet to LiveJournal, fans have established a variety of innovative practices to engage with their favourite media texts and each other. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, however, fans are not only able to engage with one another; they can have a direct impact on how some of their favourite fannish objects are made and marketed (Bennett, 2012). This forum discussion seeks to examine the ways in which this type of participatory fandom has altered the traditional relationship between fans and producers, making the fan-producer boundary more ‘leaky’ (Haraway, 1988). Much academic work thus far has focussed on television audiences’ use of Twitter (Deller, 2011) but we seek to open the debate and question the ways in which other forms of social media like Facebook and Tumblr contribute to the shifting nature of fan communities. Among the questions we address in the course of this discussion are: how do older fans, such as those of British singer Cliff Richard, use social media to enhance, rather than replace, their experiences in older forms of internet community? How have older fandoms such as Star Trek: TOS, Blake’s 7 and The X-Files adopted new technologies to keep the fandom alive? What is the role of older technologies, such as listservs, and social networking sites, such as LiveJournal, in fan community making? How do guitar bands and their fans use Facebook, and how does this affect the audience-producer relationship? Finally, is online participatory culture becoming more global as a result of shifting patterns of audience reception? Read the article