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Mike Rugnetta talks fan communities at XOXO Festival

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At the 2013 XOXO Festival, Mike Rugnetta of the YouTube/PBS Idea Channel delivered a really interesting talk about the Internet, specifically how it's helped us develop new ways of constructing our self-identities, due to the discovery of new ideas and interacting socially online, amongst other things. He hops from topic to topic very rapidly, and doesn't really get started until about two minutes into the video.

Interestingly - if you jump to the 10:15 mark - he discusses fandoms. Good fandoms have lots of opportunities for interaction, sharing creativity, and finding ways for the fans to relate to one another. In fact, the fans may relate to each other more than they might relate to the original theme that caused them to gather in the first place! What matters is the energy within the fan community, the bonds between fans. (This reminded me of Anthrocon 2007's guest of honor Mark Evanier, who noted that furries seemed to be "fans of each other".)

Mike asks his audience if there's a fandom without canonical media for fans to gather around? A fandom which would instead subsist mainly by the interaction of the fans, without devotion to a specific TV show, movie, or comic book series? Yup! Furry!

From there he moves on to other topics (the LGBT-friendly aspects of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, and he also brings up Otherkin briefly). He gets rather philosophical at a couple of points. If you've got 15-25 minutes to spare, and are interested in meta-social-science topics, give this a watch.

My thanks go out to Rekaze on reddit/r/furry for pointing this out. Also, a belated happy birthday to [adjective][species]!

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I like how this JM over at [a][s] has just claimed that furry isn't a fandom for precisely this reason.

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Oh dear. :P You mean "We're not a fandom because we aren't fans of some specific piece of art. There is no furry canon"? By "piece of art" I assume he means something more along the lines of "form of creative endeavor". My personal definition of a fandom is: A social network built around a common interest. (Often nerdy.) That interest can take physical form (the Star Trek franchise) or be more conceptual (furry). Anyone can like (or dislike) Star Trek, but if it's only a casual interest, if interacting socially with other fans doesn't interest you, then you're not participating in a fandom. Science-Fiction fandom is certainly so huge now that there's isn't a single canonical point of agreement anymore, and it's possible to have endless debates about what does and doesn't qualify as SF. :)

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I guess we can start calling religion the "Ethereal Fandom"

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Semantics :p

subculture, hobby... made of people who are fannishly involved.

On occasions I skim a JM article, it usually rubs me the wrong way with glibness. Check the list of stuff after "square pegs" for an example :p Oh well, fan stuff is loveable for imperfection.

Mike Rugnetta vid is awesome, glad it made it here, I thought " flayrah worthy" when I saw it.

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Heya Patch, it's kinda nice to know that I've been writing for [a][s] for long enough for you to recognize the hallmarks of a "JM article".

I don't ever intend to be glib. I do try to keep my articles clear and engaging, even if that means that I sometimes over-simplify complex issues. It's a bit of a fine line especially when the issue is, as you point out, semantic. I suspect that just as many people find my articles to be pedantic, or even impenetrable.

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I have to disagree with JM over at [a][s. We are fan but we are fan of our own creation unlike anime and SF fandoms that tied so some person work. There is a cannon but its loosely tied to culture, aesthetics, fursuiting and literature, for example of a cannon is some who feel a plant or inanimate object fursonas as not furry.
Mike Rugnetta is partially right, steampunks is another fandom that is “fandom without canonical media for fans to gather around”.

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