ey: OTW logo with EY logo (OTW: EY logo)
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 (and NaNoWriMo). 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 ([personal profile] 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 [profile] fcoppa at Re/Mix this past May and stuck it on their bag, because of the NPR listeners who checked out [personal profile] 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.
ey: OTW logo with EY logo (OTW: EY logo)
If there is one thing I hated about being on the Development and Membership committee of the OTW, which I was for two years (and loved! it was awesome, [personal profile] rbarenblat!), it was writing posts for the biannual membership/donation drives. I am (a) not particularly good at writing nonfiction, (b) not good at all at writing creative nonfiction, and (c) not good in the least at writing creative nonfiction quickly. I was always so busy, you know, putting the drive together that I would forget to write my meta to support the drive until the last minute. And it would make me crazy for three days and I would inevitably be dissatisfied with what I posted — because I love OTW! why can't I talk about why I love OTW?

Never again! We just had our 2010 membership drive, and despite the fact that [personal profile] allisonmorris and her awesome DevMem team were actually in charge of it this year, I still was flailing about a post to encourage people to join. So here is the beginning of a list, for my own reference, and other people's possible use, of things I could talk about in future drive posts.

  1. The Columbia University Science Fiction Society and the near-annual meeting I run about OTW, and how both the presentation and people's reactions have changed since 2008.

  2. Linking to stories in languages other-than-English.

  3. A revised (abridged?) version of the IP law on the internet essay I need to finish by the end of the semester.

  4. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and the fact that the Carver story is one of my least favorites ever (honestly, I can't stand that entire generation of American literature, for a variety of boring and personal reasons), but the title is one of those phrases that resonates deep in my chest (did you know that there's no copyright on titles? it's an interesting wrinkle in IP law).

  5. How I first discovered one of my favorite books because I was rummaging through the LJ of my Yuletide recipient.

  6. About the way that fandom has given me permission, or absolution, whatever, for still loving kids' fantasy and YA novels; I own my love for Meg Cabot these days, and will defend my collection of Susan Cooper and Mary Stewart and Gordon Korman novels without embarrassment (love is never wrong. it is merely inconvenient.)
ey: Elizabeth Yalkut (Default)
One thing that keeps amazing me is how many moving parts are in OTW, and how many of them need to be coordinated at a given moment. Like, tonight — we're deploying almost 200 code changes, which means we need to send out release notes, once we've made sure that the Archive FAQs and Known Issues are up-to-date, and one of those code changes is a TOS update, which means we need to post a separate blog entry about the TOS change for public comment, and we have a post that explains the impact of the TOS change for users, and a good number of those code changes (200 of them in one release; as [personal profile] elz said in chat, "no wonder we're all half-dead!") are related to Collections & Challenges, which is ALMOST finished for Yuletide (omg [personal profile] astolat is so amazing; she has literally been coding twelve and fourteen hours a day to get this done), so the Yuletide mods are making sure that information is getting out on their end, and there are probably half a dozen people making all of this happen!

It is awesome.

We're making things happen. And I just keep watching in wonder, as stuff grows and becomes real and beautiful, and I keep chipping away at my little corner, and [personal profile] zooey_glass keeps doing mysterious things over there, and [personal profile] general_jinjur wrangulates, and there are so many moving parts, and people working so hard on their piece that sometimes I think we forget how big this is. The org-wide meetings have been a huge help in giving staff that perspective, I think, and I'm so glad of that, because this is so much bigger than any one person, so much bigger than the Board of Directors, so much bigger than the committees. And even the Archive of Our Own, our flagship project, isn't everything that we do; there's Fanlore and Transformative Works and Cultures and the legal advocacy and the preservation of our history, and maybe it's a good thing that I don't, can't, pay attention to everything we do all the time, because I'm getting all verklempt now that I realize what a huge thing this is and how important and how much we have already and what we're about to do, and oh, man, I should go to bed before I start blubbering all over the OTW staff and volunteers and the Yuletide mods and our wonderful users and basically the entire Internet.


ey: Elizabeth Yalkut (Default)


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