Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fan fic

This posting is in response to wiley's question on fan fic (see url)

What's the big deal about fan fic?

Well for one, its spawn a movie ‘sky captain and the world of tomorrow'. You geeks know what I am talking about…

Fan fic sightings

Mark mason introduced a great article called the ‘zen art of teaching ' in his recent post. But for me, Curtis has the blog post ( link ) of the week on the topic of ‘fan fic'. Read it, it's worth your time. His post introduced ‘ hypergraphia ' and it opened my eyes on how writing can be a form of self-defense and stress reliever. I never considered this approach to writing before… Personal experience has taught me to voice out my inner thoughts through writing. There is no worse feeling that being cooped up with unanswered questions and thoughts. Putting them on paper or electronic form may never get them answered, but at least it's a way of letting go. ‘Dr. Merlin's guide to fan fic ' is a fun way to warm up to fan fiction. And don't ever get into a debate on fan fiction without knowing what a ‘ Mary sue ' or ‘creativity demon' is.

Why write on fan fic?

  1. free

  2. easy to post

  3. ability to get feedback (heaven forbid, fan mail?)

  4. anonymity of the web

  5. gathering of common interest (geeks)

  6. fun – for those who care

weizhai correctly identified that fan fic is an inherently motivated activity. If you are not interested, you won't get hooked (e.g. Bekir). Like John said, ‘If you start assigning students to participate (much like assigning someone to be a genuine "friend" to another), you can violate the whole experience/spirit of the medium itself.'( john, 2004 )

Homework (hate it!): * if you really want to read the reviews, check on 19th Oct 2004 (Tues)

Random Fan fics I read & commented:

  1. (Harry potter: harmonie x Ron)

  2. (hellsing: confused half-vampire Seras)

  3. (matrix: under the gun)

Fan fic I wrote [user name: ‘gicik']

  1. (‘dummies for vampires' self-help guide)

warning: its probably gibberish to non-fans of the hellsing anime/manga.

Fan fic & instructional technology?

Now, say your literature teacher/professor asks a female student (let's call her Shelly ) to write a story for a class assignment. E.g. ‘Charles dickens – the later years'. Shelly writes a 5000 word story and posts it on Her story gets reviewed by 500 other readers, and starts to gather a following. Shelly gets intrigued in her fan base and continues to write more stories. The teacher thinks ‘what a godsend! She is writing on her own!' but at the same time she notices that shelly has stopped handing in homework assignments altogether. When asked why by the teacher, shelly responded: ‘Do I write to 500 readers or do I write for one teacher?'

When we can get students so motivated that they do work beyond the ‘call of duty' that is a good thing. Or is it? Do the 500 other 14 – 17 year old readers give equally good feedback on her literature writing and analysis than her 60 yr old professor who has a PhD in literature? This brings us to reputation management system which coincidently is our topic of discussion for week 7 at inst7150 .

Too often I see people lap up the wow factor of a few hundred reviews as a revolutionary approach to learning. Wader's blog suggested applying this fan fic approach to higher education institutions like MIT's open courseware , and have faculty peer review each other. But I don't think that works because of a variety of reasons. First, not all institutions are like MIT and openly share their content. The dirty little secret about most faculty in universities around the world is that their own course materials are probably made up of bits and pieces from other people's work. Yes, copyright and plagiarism even at the professor level. And even if there were faculty who were 100% original, would they be willing to put their work open to scrutiny to the world? there are only so many Dave wileys who don't care about image (flip-flops) and take criticisms like taking a snack… how would it look on their resume to see their course compared to another and have it look pathetically weak? How many brave faculty you know will want to take this risk? Things are never as simple as they seem.

But I am not one to say that a phenomenon like fan fic has no instructional value. Stop & think: ‘Would it not be ideal if we can leverage on the popularity of things like fan fic and apply it to learning?'

e.g. weizhai' s comment on how Fan fiction can help promote association, and prepare the students for real world problems. Although the virtual collaboration of working online is quite different from the subtleties of face to face friendship and collaboration, engaging in activities like ‘Through commenting on “plot, characterization, grammar, or spelling”, learners are engaging in a meaning exchanging and sharing process, which contributes the advancement of the community as a whole…' ( weizhai, 2004 ) is still a valuable learning experience.

Fan fic & personal development

At the end of Melissa Wilson's awesome article on ‘ Dr. Merlin's guide to fan fic ', she wrote: ‘When you receive negative feedback, don't automatically flame the sender. Read it, think about it, and decide if it has validity. Then make your own decision as to what you're going to do with your next story, because there will always be a next story. And it's going to be a great one.'( Wilson , 2004)

I find it eerie how something like fan fic can be associated to dealing with all issues pertaining to work, school and friendship? Next time, should you be so fortunate as to receive negative feedback on any of the above; don't get angry… but instead, stop and think! Only those really honest with you will be bothered to point out your problem. Decide if their criticisms have validity (they usually do), and make your own decisions as how to make amends for your mistakes.



At October 19, 2004 at 9:30 AM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

Nice pic! :)

"Do the 500 other 14 – 17 year old readers give equally good feedback on her literature writing and analysis than her 60 yr old professor who has a PhD in literature?"

You ask an interesting question here. I don't claim to have an answer since every 60 year old professor is different, but I would wager that the 500 14-17 years olds are going to give better feedback. Maybe not in the 'academic' sense, but if that feedback leads to more/better writing, can’t it be argued that maybe the feedback is better? Even if not, I would still argue that the entire fan-fic experience is going to be better for the student in the long run.

I used to write essays for my polysci professors, and they gave me good feedback, but I've never written so much, or though so much, after finding a site that discussed politics and political theory. And believe me, I got feedback; some of it brutally honest.

I don't know. If students are being praised online, they just may write some more. I don't think many students have written another essay for a teacher who gave them an A. :)

At October 19, 2004 at 1:46 PM, Blogger bhchia said...

hi marion!

thanks for commenting... never expect anyone to read my blog actually.

I like your comment on more motivation and incentive in having reviews from 500 online readers. But my thinking is that when you move into higher stakes... e.g. you want to get respected reviews (is there such a thing?) on your work, that you rather have some well-known people/organization comment on your work, rather than a bunch of anonymous readers.

But hey, i am still happy to receive my first reader comment! :)

strange enough, a day after i posted my fan fic on hellsing (see above), i got 2 reviews. the feeling is weird... half happy, half puzzled that people actually read random fan fic?


At October 19, 2004 at 4:31 PM, Blogger Mark said...


Glad to have the update on your RSS feed. I always wondered why I never got any updates from your blog. I like what you are doing with shummerville. Hey, take a look at this site: I set up this blog so it could be group meeting place for anyone in IT at USU. My problem is being a distance student I never see anyone there on campus. Want to spread the word. I really don't have any agenda for the blog other than people feeling free to discuss IT issues. Anyway, let me know what you think. I like what you are doing with your blog. It's obvious you have a lot some great web skills.


At October 28, 2004 at 10:24 AM, Blogger David said...

Bing, another great one. Must say the comment about taking criticisms like taking a snack is the best compliment I've had in months. Thanks.

"Do I write to 500 readers or do I write for one teacher?" It all depends on the person's purpose, right? If they write for glory or to entertain, there's an obvious answer. If they write to improve their writing, the answer is less clear. Should one value good written mechanics over providing a pleasing reading experience?


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