David Decker was on assignment at Boskone 51 (February 15-17, Boston, MA) and managed to attend my panel on Ezines, Fanzines, and Blogs, Oh My! – my first-ever moderating experience at a science fiction convention.
The panel was staffed by E. C. Ambrose, the author of the historical fantasy series The Dark Apostle (blog); Steve Miller is half of the Liaden Universe(TM) writing team (blog), Mallory O’Meara is a producer at Dark Dunes Productions (horror films) and one of the founders of the Arkham Horror Book Club (facebook) and Joe Siclari is a BNF, Worldcon Chair, founder of FANAC, Fan History Project, and many other fannish things (website).
We had a very interesting discussion that at least one audience member referred to as one of the liveliest panels they’ve ever attended. Of course I can’t remember detail, I was trying to keep things going, make sure that everyone got their say, guide the conversation towards what appeared to be the subject(s) of interest to the panelists. Essentially we began discussing whether or not ezines and blogs were “the same” as fanzines and if not, why not. We largely agreed that the intent may be the same (engaging in fan activity) but that in some cases the medium IS the message and that there are some fundamental differences between them, both in the way things are created and in the nature of the audience. Fanzines were very personal, hand-crafted and usually created following and during a lot of time for thought. The intent was not so much to reach as large an audience as possible as it was to be read by the “right” people and to exchange information and ideas on a very personal level. Blogs and ezines are usually much more immediate, seek out as wide an audience as possible and are much more creatures of the audience than fanzines are.
We ultimately decided that there was enough similarity between the two forms to retain connections and a history, but that if that history is to remain relevant, it needs to find ways to appeal to a younger audience – one that isn’t willing to wait for a fanzine to arrive in the mail.
I had a good time – I hope my fellow panelists did as well. (Steve Davidson)