[iDC] Introduction

Abigail De Kosnik adekosnik at berkeley.edu
Tue Jun 23 00:55:00 UTC 2009

Hi All:

Sorry to be late to the Introductions party!  I am an Assistant  
Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Berkeley  
Center for New Media (bcnm.berkeley.edu) and the Department of  
Theater, Dance & Performance Studies (tdps.berkeley.edu).  I am  
currently working on two books: The Survival of Soap Opera: Strategies  
for a New Media Age (co-edited with Sam Ford and C. Lee Harrington),  
forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi, and Illegitimate  
Media: Minority Discourse and Censorship in Digital Remix Culture,  
forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press.

I specialize in issues of Internet fan cultures and fan  
appropriations, such as fan fiction and game mods.  I'm interested in  
the question of how appropriations by women and minorities are  
critically appraised, widely understood, restricted and rewarded.  One  
of my main arguments about women who write fan fiction (see my short  
piece, "Should Fan Fiction Be Free?," in the upcoming issue of Cinema  
Journal) is that they (the majority, at any rate) refuse to consider  
monetizing their work because of a strong commitment to the ideals of  
gift economies and craft cultures - but in doing so, these women are  
opting to *not* benefit from a creative format that is increasing in  
popularity and helping the media industries generate millions in  

Many fan producers give away their work for free on the Internet  
because their works - fan vids, fan trailers, etc. - make use of  
copyrighted images and sounds, and to attempt to financially profit  
from these types of appropriations would likely make them targets of  
lawsuits by the copyright holders of the source material.  However,  
there is something else at work in the insistence of cultural workers  
to labor without pay; as Mark Andrejevic and Tiziana Terranova have  
pointed out, it has become a cultural norm that all of the user- 
generated content that makes the Internet interesting should be  
unpaid. I want to interrogate this assumption, which has become more  
and more naturalized in recent years, and ask about how Internet  
revenue models can somehow compensate user or fan contributors as well  
as official content creators.

Looking forward to the ongoing discussions!

Abigail De Kosnik
UC Berkeley
Assistant Professor
Berkeley Center for New Media
Theater, Dance & Performance Studies

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