Smart Lis Riba announced yesterday, here and in her own weblog, that she’s tracked down some very interesting info about FanLib at their parent company’s site. It’s a brochure aimed at backers. FanLib foolishly put it online and linked to it from their parent company’s site. Perhaps they thought that fans would never find it.
Given all the talk, I decided to look up the company founder’s history.Isn’t that interesting? It’s a perpetual motion machine — excuse me, an automatic content generator. This content generation will be done by fanfic writers, who’ll be moderated to an inch and made to color inside the lines. Their work will be used as raw material to be finished and exploited by professionals. And all shall be done for the profit of FanLib’s backers and customers.
Here’s how they’re pitching FanLib to industry:Introducing the new, turnkey entertainment marketing service
That’s right, it’s not primarily geared towards fans, it’s a “marketing service.”
Read more in their 6-page PDF brochure, with revelatory quotes like:—See How To: Grow Audience! Enhance Brand! and Increase Revenue!And how about Page 4, describing how their site is “MANAGED & MODERATED TO THE MAX,” including the following:
— [let] a mass audience collaborate democratically in a fun online game that you control. [Emphasis theirs.]
— Increase audience — if they build it, they will come
— Massive Viral Marketing— As with a coloring book, players must “stay within the lines”Yes, a restrictive TOS isn’t a bug — it’s a feature!
— Restrictive player’s terms-of-service protects your rights and property
— Moderated “scene missions” keep the story under your control
— Full monitoring & management of submissions & players
They conclude with the following B2B summary:FANLIB TECHNOLOGIES (a division of My2Centences LLC) develops, markets and manages innovative social software and web services that unleash the creativity of the worldwide public and generate remarkable value for businesses.
That’s not exactly the song Chris Williams has been singing to the fanfic community. Of late he’s added some verses to it, asking us to give him our mercy, tolerance, and faith:
“hey everyone, I’m Chris one of the founders of FanLib. it’s really late and i have been working on the site all day. I’m exhausted but i just realized what was going on here and all of the commentsts are making me sick. we’re a small company with 10 emplyees who work 16 hours a day to try and make a great website. we’re real people! with feelings and everything! we have been working on this and dreaming about it for a long time and you are just here to shit on it without giving us a chance. i care deeply about what you think but this is crazy. we’re good people here and you make us sound like we’re an evil corporation or the govt. sending your kids to war or something. we really are all about celebrating fan fiction and fan fiction readers and writers. im sorry this is so short and please excuse the fact that i am cutting and pasting this across a bunch of ljs but i gotta get some sleep.”Well before I saw that .pdf brochure (which truly is a remarkable document; do have a look at it), my instant reaction to Chris Williams’ plea was to say, out loud, “I don’t care.”
It’s no secret that I lurk in the Bewares and Background Check forum at Absolute Write. Again and again, I’ve seen people posting there who’ve started up some hopelessly misconfigured, clueless, unworkable business plan (usually a publishing company or a display site), and then had it reduced to bloody collops and bone fragments by the analysts who hang out at Bewares. The would-be CEOs protest that they’re not villains, they only wanted to start a successful company that would do brilliant things, they’ve been working ever so hard on it, their enterprise is being condemned before it’s had a chance to prove itself, and it’s not fair!
Uh-huh. And if hopes, dreams, and hard work were enough, every theatre major in America would wind up working on Broadway. Most dotcom startups would have metamorphosed into successful businesses. Every wanna-be author out there would be professionally published, and would sell. But it’s not enough.
I have great sympathy for those who try but don’t succeed. I have no quibble with people who take risks when they’re the only ones affected. But the guys who cry it’s not fair! never seem to be thinking about the other people who’ll take a hit if their idea doesn’t work.
Other relevant links:
Henry Jenkins has written a long chewy essay about FanLib: Transforming Fan Culture into User-Generated Content: The Case of FanLib.
John Scalzi weighs in from the Ficlets website.
Meg Thornton nailed seventeen questions to FicLib’s door, and got answers to some of them.
Icarus Ancalion has been one of the anchor points for discussions of this issue.
Lizbee has written fanfic about the two guys in FanLib’s own site ad, demonstrating once again the mighty truth that neener-neener is a Word of Power.