Wednesday, December 12, 2012 a medium in the full sense of the word.

—Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Programmed Visions: Software and Memory 49

A medium is a medium is a medium.

—Friedrich Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900 229

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"immense fan energy unleashed"

Hypable, which launched last year, is aimed at a Harry Potter-like audience of tweens, teens and young adults, mostly female. That means lots of coverage of the "Twilight" series and "The Hunger Games" and less emphasis on, say, "Star Wars," which Sims said attracts an older male audience.

[Professor Karen] North, at USC, said entertainment companies are similarly scrambling to harness the immense fan energy unleashed by sites such as Mugglenet.

Two things. First, the above-quoted article on fan labor in the Orange County Register is by Jim Hinch, who is also the author of the amazing pan of Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve in LA Review of Books that's been going around.

Second, and the reason I'm posting: it's not quite clear whose language this is—Hinch's or North's—but it seems telling that fan labor is imagined as a sort of natural resource, whose "energy" is "unleashed" by fan sites and can be "harnessed" (read: profited on) by the entertainment industry. Of course this is labor that is being appropriated. What's interesting about the language through which it is understood, here, is that it so explicitly routes that appropriation through an identification of (primarily young female) labor with natural resources, imagined as free for the taking. This usually doesn't end well.

(On fan labor, I highly recommend Abigail De Kosnik's essay in Digital Labor: The Internet as Factory and Playground.)