Paper about online Swedish Indie Music fandom

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Ago 14 2007, 20:06

I've just published a paper about how the online community of Swedish indie music fans spreads itself out across multiple sites and platforms. It's in an online journal for those who might be interested in reading it. Though I'm told that one paragraph toward the end sounds awfully academic-scary, the rest is meant to be quite readable for non-academics. I'm doing a followup study now, so any comments you have about the scene or general phenomena I discuss are most appreciated.

Reference:

The new shape of online community: The example of Swedish independent music fandom by Nancy K. Baym. First Monday, volume 12, number 8 (August 2007)

Abstract

Online groups are taking new forms as participants spread themselves amongst multiple Internet and offline platforms. The multinational online community of Swedish independent music fans exemplifies this trend. This participant–observation analysis of this fandom shows how sites are interlinked at multiple levels, and identifies several implications for theorists, researchers, developers, industry and independent professionals, and participants.

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  • talking_animal

    Have you considered that online communities may vary as to focus? I assume that Swedish indie music fans is a pretty broadly focused kind of fandom, and that for broad categories like SIMF, it is adaptive on some level to have many different points of entry into the matter under discussion, through the labels' websites, YouTube, last, blogs, wherever. You don't even have to have been to Sweden to like Swedish music, as your article points out. An online group like the one described here, however, is pretty much siloed on its own server, without a lot of overlap or duplication. You take an oath, get a login, and you're a member. Is there some kind of correlation between the degree of diffusion of an online community among different venues and the degree of difficulty of entry into that community?

    Ago 14 2007, 23:23
  • popgurl

    Thanks for the comments. Re: varying as to focus. Yes, absolutely. For instance, within Swedish indie fandom, you've got subfandoms devoted to particular bands, or specific scenes or labels. You've got sites like Television without Pity that caters to lots of levels of fandom around TV. And my earlier fandom work was about a single-site community (a Usenet group). My examples are fandom but as your link suggests, the communities can grow around any topic. They go from highly focussed to very diffuse. But I'm guessing that nowadays even in communities that seem to have tight focus and clear boundaries, there are plenty of ways in which they are also diffused -- some people are Facebook or MySpace friends with one another, share pictures on Flickr, and otherwise extend the community beyond the silo in ways that could make it hard to follow all the on-site discourse if you don't participate elsewhere. For instance, one person recently told me that her message board community has taken to having community scrabble games on Facebook where that's possible and that lots of the on-site discourse now refers back to FB interactions and isn't intelligable without knowing them. I wrote in the early 90s about people emailing and developing other ways of interacting outside an online space, so to an extent, diffusion has been there from the start, but I think that in recent years most all online communities are becoming more dispersed. Perhaps not as dispersed as the one I describe in the paper, but I'd be really surprised to find an online community in which ALL the groups' connections are happening in one spot. Regarding diffusion and ease of entry, it's an interesting question and I think it depends (it'd be an interesting topic to study to see what it depends on). Some diffuse communities may be very easy to enter to some degree because there are so many entry points, but harder to become prominent within because being multi-sited takes more effort. One site communities vary a lot in degree of access -- a small one-site community can be very easy to become a star in or could require lots of already existing connections to get an invitation to lurk in. Big single site ones (take Metafilter or Daily Kos as an example -- though Id argue they are not so single-site as they first appear either) can be easy to get access into but nearly impossible to gain any notice within. So I don't think these are questions with single answers.

    Ago 15 2007, 0:26
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