Thursday, March 19, 2009
Semantics of fan in web 2.0 Puttering at my delicious bookmarks today I spotted the fan word on their page as per the image here and made up my mind once and for all - I gotta let go of my squeamishness about the word 'fan'. I'm a fan of any site I bookmark or group I join! It's that simple in web 2.0. My balky feelings about the word spring from my discomfort with what I have dubbed the "pro-speak" culture of my early days as a published writer. In pro-speak, a fan is a mindless wallet whose role is to buy whatever commodity a creative entrepreneur is hawking and to stroke the ego of the artist but keep the hell out of the business of being creative herself. I hated the blind arrogance of the usage. I wanted a word for my readers that expressed my respect for their good taste and my acute awareness that they were complex, inspiring people who happened to like my books as well. If any of the creatively talented ones wanted to write or do art in the ORU, I especially didn't want to use a word that would put them on the wrong side of the pro-speak divide between those who 'can' and those who 'buy'! I believe the line is blurring and the branding of products and aggressive categorizing of people integral to pro-speak is melting down under the egalitarian influence of the web. No change comes without a price, and there is always the challenge of navigating the surplus to locate the materials of choice for you. But 'fan' in web 2.0 is not the same word as the 'fan' of pro-speak. In pro-speak, fan and pro are hard and fast categories. In web 2.0 we are all fans and all creators, taking on different roles in differet contexts. And that's a usage I can snuggle up to and embrace without feeling icky.

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