Tuesday, September 15, 2009


editing second chapter particularly painful today. for those keeping score at home, chapter 2 is the only one i've written, and it's kinda multi-pupose, an introduction/demographics/methods/ethics chapter. it's probably 85% complete - fully written, but needing some sections expanded on.

decided to take a break from the editing struggle to crunch some statistical data that i'll need for one part of this chapter, where i basically describe what sort of vids are posted to the main community, what shows are being vidded, and what the community is talking about just to give an overview.

so for the past 6 months (feb-july) i've been writing down a basic summary of everything that's been posted in an excel spreadsheet. i figured it would be a bit tough to analyze later on, but at the time of recording i only wanted it to be easy to take down.

and now i'm kicking myself in the face for it.

i never studied statistics, or learned how to crunch quantitative data in my undergrad, or even in my postgrad. i'm sure it would have been excruciating to sit through such a class, but MAN do i wish i knew a better way to do this.

bumped into a colleague of mine on the way to the library, another arts postgrad, and i was telling her about this problem, and she turns to me and says...

"you know, they have computer programs that do all that for you now, right?"


Monday, September 07, 2009

Wrapping up Interviews

It's weird, but I get a bit sad when I'm wrapping up interviews with my participants, both in-person in scattered locations around the globe, at conventions, and by email over the course of a month or two. I almost wish I had more questions to ask, because I want to hear more about vidding, and keep the conversation going. But I've got to move on from collecting information, and into analysis and writing.

I'm considering the possibility of an online focus group to wrap up my data collection phase, but am not sure of the best way to do it. (I'd like to go out with a bang!) Drop me a PM or a comment if you're interested in participating (if you've been interviewed before or not). Also: any suggestions on a good place to host it? Maybe a communal Google chat? Here in my LJ? Skype? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The multi-faceted definitions of vidding

Or... "Can't we all just be friends?"

You know, this whole vidding thing that's been going on (which I'm going to call The Great Vidding Kerfuffle of 2009) makes me suddenly really terrified to actually make any sort of statement about vidding one way or another. It seems like such an ephemeral thing, such a contentious thing, and it's obviously something that people care a lot about (myself included) that I'm almost hesitate to say anything about it, one way or another. So... I'm just hoping that I can avoid any possible vitriol or shit-storming in my journal. Please play nice in comments.

The definition of vidding I have used for my thesis is: "a fan-made remix video (known as a "vid") whereby favourite television or film texts are edited to music and shared online", with a second line describing it as "a unique new media form that combines pre-existing sources in new ways which often convey meanings not intended by their original creators".

I was trying to create a definition that was relatively more inclusive, because at the time I was unsure if I was going to include a chapter on trailer mashups or AMVs (although I no longer am for length/focus reasons).

And I can see a hundred contentious issues pop in just my two sentence definition. I think many traditional vidders (coming from the slash/VCR/Escapade line) would take issue with the phrase "new media form", as this refers explicitly to digital vidding and suggests that it has arisen in the last 5-10 years. I've also noticed that vidders tend to avoid the word "remix" as well, as this brings up connotations of DJs, political remixers, and other digital media artists. I've also included that vids are "shared online": while this has not always been the case, I believe it is such at the current moment. The last section I think is especially important: imho, vids often convey new meanings, but not always. I think vids are inherently transformative, but not necessarily interpretive or analytical. That's a criticism that's often heard of AMVs - they're not vids because they are not critical or interpretive. There's a value judgement there. So many vids are simply about joy, about love for fandom, about expressing that joy. And that's what I love about vidding the most: the emotion. (Please don't hurt me.)

So for anyone wondering, here's the type of vidding I'm going to be discussing in my dissertation:

I hope to provide a snapshot of contemporary vidding. It will be heavily informed by the history of media fandom, and I hope to detail the evolution of vidding as a practice and a community from its inception with Kandy Fong's slideshows, through the VCR collectives, and into early digital collectives. But what really interests me is what has happened to this original tradition since the inception of YouTube, new media cultures, and the mainstream accessibility of digital remix.

I am fascinated by the tensions, conflicts, communities, changes, and individuals who are involved in vidding: the new styles, the experiments and ground-breaking changes, and how they affect and effect the original ethos of the group. What happens when new people start joining the group, and the dynamic shifts? When the definition of vidding is no longer so straightforward?

I've been fortunate that I have cast my interview net far and wide, and have managed to talk to AMV editors working on their first live-action vid, YouTube vidding community members, professional editors, VCR vidders with 20+ years unflagging love for editing, mainstream artists, and so-called visual fan-ficcers on three continents, men and women (and some in-between) from eighteen to sixty. But they've all got a few things common: they love TV, they love music, they love the craft of editing, and they all call themselves vidders.

I consider myself pretty lucky, as a researcher, to have shown up on the scene at such an interesting moment.

So I like to consider a more far-reaching and open-ended definition of vidding for myself, but simply for the sake of scope I will be dealing with the Livejournal-based vidding community with its roots in media fandom-- and how YouTube and digital remix culture has affected it-- for my dissertation.

A big part of me doesn't even want to post this at all, because I'm afraid of blowback. And I really wish I wasn't.