[SIGCIS-Members] sf-lovers

John Paul Laprise j-laprise at northwestern.edu
Sun Mar 11 06:07:45 PDT 2012

Hi Chris,

*Disclaimer: The following loosely processed thoughts are not the outcome of a rigorous study. They are the result of my personal involvement and observations in a number of fan communities. Re-enactment (SCA) 15 years, Face to Face Gamers 33 years, Genre (SF/Fantasy) 24 years.*

Your interest in the SF-Internet connection is based in pop culture. Many people who get involved in science and technology (myself included) can tell you that that there are a series of overlapping hobby spheres that correlate with techies of all types, not just those of the internet variety. These include:

1.      Historical Re-enactors

a.      Medieval (Society for Creative Anachronism)

b.     Revolutionary War

c.      French & Indian War

d.     Civil War

e.      Rome

f.       Napoleonic

2.      Face to Face Gamers

a.      Wargamers

b.     Miniature gamers

c.      Role playing (Dungeons and Dragons)

d.     Live Action Role Playing (Vampire: The Masquerade)

3.      Genre Fans

a.      Fantasy

b.     SF

c.      Horror

d.     Cyberpunk

e.      Star Trek

f.       Star Wars

g.      Anime

h.     Steampunk

All of these groups of people share(d) some common characteristics:

1.      Passionate about their hobby

2.      Passionate about technology (SF, military, domestic, imagined, contemporary, ancient)

3.      Tend to be more creative than "normal"

4.      Tend to be more highly educated (not always in a traditional sense)

5.      Rules-driven. Gamers are constrained by rules in an obvious way. Re-enactors and genre fans are similarly constrained in that they are constrained by a chronological period or world of an author.

6.      Unable to be "themselves" in real life. Frequently these groups have different social norms.

7.      Stigmatization/mild oppression of their interest sometimes resulting in fan pushback ("freaking the mundanes").

8.      Difficultly in locating others with the same interest.

9.      Many college age members due to the lack of time constraints and the existence on many college campuses of clubs or organizations that support particular interests.

10. Many activities of these groups tend to be visually appealing/interesting to observers.

11. These groups tend to gather periodically and share at conventions and meetings.

12. A fundamental interest in exploring hypothetical historical or ahistorical constructs-"alternity."

For many of these groups, the early internet provided ways to assert these aspects of their identity and connect/collaborate/coordinate with fellow hobbyists. Members of college age or in academia frequently had access through university accounts. These groups had pre-existing modes of communication so that the spread of knowledge about the Internet within these communities was all but foreordained. Hobbyists disseminated knowledge of the existence and utility of the Internet at large offline fan/gaming conventions (WorldCon, GenCon) or reenactments (Pennsic War) where well established and efficient word of mouth and printed word (newsletters) spread information further. Hobbyists in multiple groups received similar information about the Internet from multiple sources increasing its reliability and the likelihood they would adopt a technology which they were already predisposed to like. Internet use further distinguished them from the "mudanes" in the early days and the earl titles of geek and nerd were badges of honor.

As for more formal research leads, I would suggest attending your local science fiction fan convention and start talking to people who have been around for awhile. If there is a GT (General Technics) group/party, hang out there for a while and go to some panels during the day to start figuring out who is who.

Best regards,

John Laprise, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Northwestern University Qatar<http://www.qatar.northwestern.edu/>
P.O. Box 34102
Doha, Qatar
+974 4454 5037

From: members-bounces at sigcis.org<mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org> [mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org]<mailto:[mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org]> On Behalf Of David Ferro
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2012 10:42 AM
To: Christopher S. Leslie
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] sf-lovers

Janet Abbate notes some sf in early Internet development in Inventing the Internet ( http://www.amazon.com/Inventing-Internet-Inside-Technology-Abbate/dp/0262511150/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1331192341&sr=8-4 ) and she and some other authors on this list here go into some detail in Science Fiction and Computing ( http://www.amazon.com/Science-Fiction-Computing-Interlinked-ebook/dp/B006J4J39A/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331192422&sr=1-1 )
On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 8:48 PM, Christopher S. Leslie <cleslie at poly.edu<mailto:cleslie at poly.edu>> wrote:
Dear Colleagues:

I am more and more intrigued by a connection between science fiction and the early days of the ARPAnet. As you may know, one of the first group distribution lists that was not directly related to defense research was the mailing list SF-lovers, which was created in Sept. 1979 at MIT by Richard Brodie. When Usenet became available, a connection was established, and the travails of the list after that point are fairly well documented by Saul Jaffe and others.

Before the Usenet list, however, there is not so much information. I've been in contact with some researchers about this, but I am hoping that someone on the list might also remember the days of the sf-lovers list before Usenet. I've also heard that there were mailing groups on local computers and BBSs (bulletin board systems) before there were widely dispersed e-mail list, which if they were discussing science fiction, I would love to learn about.

If anyone has information to share, or can direct me to someone who does, I would greatly appreciate it. I am writing a book on science fiction and I think this list demonstrates an interesting synergy between science fiction and engineering.


Chris Leslie

Christopher S. Leslie, Ph.D.
Instructor of Media and Technology Studies
Department of Technology, Culture and Society
Polytechnic Institute of New York University
6 MetroTech Center, RH 213h
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 260-3130<tel:%28718%29%20260-3130>

This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org<mailto:members at sigcis.org>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://sigcis.org/pipermail/members/ and you can change your subscription options at http://sigcis.org/mailman/listinfo/members

David L. Ferro, PhD, Dean, College of Applied Science and Technology, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20120311/f8dc9cd9/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the Members mailing list