• davis logo
    Davis Media Access's offices
  • A video on Luminosity's YouTube channel
  • A visionOntv training template
  • An edit suite at Davis Media Access
  • A video on AbsoluteDestiny's YouTube channel
  • The visionOntv platform's menu
  • telex
    Davis Media Access's studio control room
  • Laura announcing a video on LiveJournal
  • visionOntv's YouTube channel
  • mixing board
    A mixing board in Davis Media Access's control room
  • Obsessive24 announcing a video on LiveJournal
  • One of visionOntv's Twitter feeds
  • Davis on air
    The entrance to Davis Media Access's studio
  • Laura recommending a video on her Dreamwidth journal
  • visionOntv's Facebook page
  • marin control
    Community Media Center of Marin's studio contol room
  • Here's Luck's website
  • visionOntv's Blip channel
  • mural
    Davis Media Access office's wall mural
  • Here's Luck announcing a video on tumblr
  • Merseyside Street Reporters Network's Facebook page
  • MarinWindow
    The Community Media Center of Marin's offices
  • AbsoluteDestiny announcing a video on Dreamwidth
  • Merseyside Street Reporters Network wiki page on the visionOntv platform
  • Davis camera
    A studio camera at Davis Media Access
  • Luminosity's video "Vogue"
  • Sara Newton's YouTube channel
  • Marin cameras wide
    Remote control studio cameras at the Community Media Center of Marin
  • researcher
    The reseacher (left) co-operating visionOntv's "pop-up studio" at OpenTech 2011

Distribution technologies as social spaces

The fan group’s producers were engaged in sustained online interactions with their audiences about their videos.  Online interactions were generally very important to my fan informants, and they not only appreciated them but actively encouraged them. For example, Luminosity stressed the importance of replying to comments: “It's only polite. Feedback is the coin of the fannish realm, and I'd like to have it ‘with interest’; therefore, I strive to keep those lines of communication open between the viewers and me”. 

To illustrate the kind of interaction being discussed here, I will briefly outline a discussion that occurred on LiveJournal concerning a video posted by Obsessive24.  The journaling sites were the primary distribution platforms where these interactions took place, and the discussion under examination here is typical of the ones I observed there.  The video at the centre of this illustration, "Don't Forget Me", was a montage of clips from episodes from the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and concerned the unrequited love of the character Riley for Buffy.  

LiveJournal entry announcing Buffy/Riley video

Obsessive24's announcement of "Don't Forget Me" on LiveJournal

There were 43 comments on the video posted over a period of six months from the date of the original journal post.  The first comment was by Cesperanza, and was 160 words long.  The comment had two main themes, firstly it was a celebration of the video because it agreed with Cesperanza’s reading of the Buffy/Riley relationship, and secondly it provided her analysis of that relationship and her thoughts on why the Buffy television audience did not take to Riley as a character.  Here’s Luck replies to Cesperanza’s comment by simply saying: “Yes to a lot of this”.

Obssesive24 video comments

Comments on Obsessive24's video (click to expand)





Comments on comments by someone other than the video producer, like this one, did occur occasionally but from my observations did not appear to be common.  Obsessive24 replied to Cesperanza’s original comment with a typically generous “OMG, thank you so, so much!”, and then gives her own thoughts on the audience reception of Riley. 

Comments, and replies, varied considerably in length.  Some were very short, celebratory comments which typically received similarly short responses from the producers. Some however went into a lot of detailed analysis: one comment on Obsessive24’s video ran to 900 words, and contained detailed analysis of the video using time codes.  Obsessive24’s response was correspondingly long, running to nearly 300 words.   

Long comments on obsessive24's video

Excerpt from long comment on Obsessive24's video (click to expand)

As mentioned, the structure of the comment threads was typically flat, rather than branching, with an audience member making a single comment on the post and the producer responding with a single comment constituting the whole exchange.  I was somewhat surprised by this, and by the fact that there weren’t more long comments, given the importance my informants placed on thoughtful discussion.  They offered me several explanations for this.  One was that these discussions did occur, but that LiveJournal and Dreamwidth were just the starting points for them.  My informants listed a variety of other technologies and places where these discussions took place once the initial connection was established on the journaling sites, and included a dedicated fan video chat room on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), private instant messaging services, Skype, telephone and face to face meetings at conventions and privately.

Another reason given for not posting long comments on the journaling sites and using other methods for communication instead was to do with avoiding controversies arising in the group: critiques of videos were done privately for fear of offending the producer in public and creating "explosions" in the group with different parties involving themselves and taking sides.

These interactions between producers and audience members turned into significant friendships in some case.  Most of my informants indicated that these friendships formed primarily with other producers in the group, who were of course also part of the audience, rather than with those that were group members but who didn’t make their own videos. 

One of my informants, Speranza, framed the producer-audience relationship, and the resulting friendships sometimes arising from it within the group, with the notion of community - a term regularly used by my informants to describe their group and its dynamics:

I don't see this as a creator/audience relationship: it's more like art produced within and for a community … Vidders are, as far as I know, quite unusual in the level of closeness of the community, partly because we are a community with a really old history.

In addition to giving comments, the audience would also actively redistribute the producers’ videos.  This was typically done through the journaling sites, and was called a “rec” (short for “recommendation”) or a “signal boost”. 

Laura recommending a video

Laura recommending a video using her Dreamwidth journal

The audience member would make a journal post with a short commentary of why they thought the video or videos were worth recommending, and provide links to the relevant LiveJournal posts made by the producers containing the videos.