Once viewed as passive consumers, media fans today are not just active, they are organized. Fans use the internet to form communities and networks, to produce their own artistic materials, to publicize what catches their fancies, to form personal alliances and friendships, to petition producers, and even to raise money for charities. They influence media producers in unprecedented ways, challenging old hierarchies. In a world of MySpace and YouTube, engaging fans is no longer a matter of mass communication, but of interpersonal relationship formation. This talk explores these changes and their implications for fans, producers, artists, analysts, and policy-makers.
Nancy Baym is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. She has written many widely-cited articles about online fan community and social aspects of online interaction and is the author of the book Tune In, Log On: Soaps, Fandom, and Online Community (Sage Press, Inc.). Her work has been translated into several languages. She is a co-founder and Past-President of the Association of Internet Researchers, an international interdisciplinary association. She is an award-winning teacher whose courses address the use of new communication technologies in creating identities, relationships and communities, interpersonal communication, and qualitative research methods. She serves on the editorial boards of the premiere journals in the field, including New Media & Society, The Journal of Communication, The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, and The Information Society. Her blog about fan activity on the internet can be found at http://www.onlinefandom.com.