One of the things I do is help run the Columbia University Science Fiction Society
. I do a lot of small things for that club, like update mailing lists and shelve books (we have a 3,000-volume library, to the best of our knowledge the largest collection dedicated to speculative fiction in the tri-state area!) and buy cookies for meetings. But I also run an annual meeting.
It's about the Archive of Our Own
). I've been running this meeting since 2008. This coming Wednesday will be the third time.
It's changed a lot.
In 2008, I had the transformativeworks.org website to show off. (archive.org doesn't even have a snapshot; take my word for it, it was not nearly
as snazzy or one-tenth as functional as the website we have now.) I don't think I had even a bare-bones alpha version of the Archive to show people (if anyone was there and remembers differently, please correct me!). I spent a good portion of the forty-five minutes I used to talk about the fair use argument that the org was using to defend the legitimacy of fanfiction. Pretty much every sentence I uttered was in the future tense — we will do amazing things! We will build an archive by fans, for fans! you'll see!
In 2009, I had a beta Archive to show off; I was able to log in with the account I had acquired as a volunteer and walk people through finding works — I'm not even sure how many we had at that point, a few thousand at most. I pointed out the annual report we had up, talked about the filtering system, told the members about the Terms of Service and the team which had put it together (I was on that committee, full disclosure) and how it was trying to protect both creators and readers.
This year? This year, I am spoiled for choice
when it comes what to talk about. I could talk about the collections and challenges functions (astolat
put hundreds of hours into that code and oh my god it shows, it's amazing stuff), the tags and tag wrangling (an unique to-the-best-of-my-knowledge curated folksonomy!), pseuds, orphaning, skins, importing, reading history, bookmarks, multi-lingual support, embedded vids, the Torrent of Our Own. I could talk about these things singly or in combination; I am probably going to be grabbing people as they try to slip gracefully away and say, "but wait, I didn't get to the really cool part yet!"
(CUSFS-ians, I would apologize, but — no, really, sit down, listen to this!
The Archive has grown so much
since we started this crazy project. And it is so cool
. It has grown because of the hours of work people have put into it, because people believed that we should own the servers and write the code and build ourselves a home where we could live. Because people believed we could
create something for ourselves.
It's grown not just because of the hundreds of volunteers who have poured thousands of hours' worth of work in (although holy wow, have those people astounded me afresh every week, practically every day). It's grown because of the lurkers. It's grown because of the people who thought, "I just don't have time, but I can skip my latte for a few Fridays and give them ten bucks," because of the people who picked up a button from me and fcoppa
this past May and stuck it on their bag, because of the NPR listeners
who checked out nestra
's Wait Wait Don't Eat Me
and clicked idly around the Archive, because of the journalists who've used the OTW-supplied glossary
while reporting on the Twilight phenomenon and the JKR/Lexicon case and didn't get all of the vocabulary completely wrong, because of the vids on YouTube which people have been linked to via the "related" tab.
And I like to think I've introduced a few people to the place as well. Most of my fellow CUSFS members know not to mock fanfiction around me because I will fling the terms transformative works and fair use and — well, let's be honest: a lot of media theory, at them.
My Wednesday night is going to be so much fun
I cannot wait to show this org off to my friends.
If anyone in the New York City area wants to come, pm me
and I'll give you directions.
If you can't make it because of the time/space continuum, you should check out the list of OTW drive posts
which have been made over the past week, see all the various things which people love about my organization, and donate
to support us.