Power Fandoms | 2134


With Web3 enabled Permissive IP frameworks, Power Fandoms will own, produce market and share the value created within their worlds. Not just play in other peoples. They are coming very soon.

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Power Fandoms

Today’s episode has been on the ideas list for over a year. But seeing as a public idea is much more useful than a private one. Let’s just get it out.

In his 2006 book Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins wrote about fandom:

Participation is understood as part of the normal ways that media operate while the current debates center around the terms of our participation. Just as studying fan culture helped us to understand the innovations that occur on the fringes of the media industry, we may also want to look at the structures of fan communities as showing us new ways of thinking about citizenship and collaboration. The political effects of these fan communities come not simply through the production and circulation of new ideas (the critical reading of favorite texts) but also through access to new social structures (collective intelligence) and new models of cultural production (participatory culture).

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide – Jenkins 2006

But he goes on to say that nothing was inevitable. Everything was up for grabs.

Given the speed of Web3 development and other trends. In 2021 everything is still up for grabs. 

Power Fandoms are coming … (soon)

Power Fandoms represent the convergence of multiple areas of online cultural production and participation. When they do arrive they will look like an unholy mash-up of github and fandom culture. Free software development and fan fiction. DAOs and gamer guilds, Game Engines and Discord, Wiki edit wars with modular politics. RPGs with legal agreements. It’ll be crypto tokens that represent promises and fan creations that deliver on them.

Jenkins said back in 1997 that fan fiction is β€œa way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of by the folk.”.

See also my essay Craving Canon. About how under the conditions of cultural commodity capitalism the concept of β€˜canon’ is used to assess if a piece of media matters or not. Canon in power fandoms will evolve through parallel experimentation and selective growth with no central arbiter of truth.

The development of Permissive IPs will provide the legal and structural frameworks for Power Fandoms to create, own, produce and market their own worlds. Not just play in other peoples. 

In her 2010 thesis “Exploring Fan Community and Celebrity in the Field of Fan Cultural Production“, Bertha Catherine LP Chin has a fascinating chapter on fan fiction and fan art as a culture of gift giving. With similar anthropological qualities as a potlatch. The essay elaborates further on fan cultural production, within its context of social, subcultural and symbolic capital. How fandom skirts copyright law by being a gift economy. Allowing it to protect itself from imperial entanglements.

Power fandoms will be autopoetic worlds co-created between audience and audience. 

Ian Cheng says that worlds are like institutions, religions and families. A flourishing world, like an effective institution, will always have the capacity for renewal and surprise.

I had a conversation a while ago with RPG designer Paul Cezge for my World Running project. I’ll post it soon. He brought up the TV show Lost as an example of a co-created world. 

The writers took fan theories straight off the internet and put them in the show. This feedback loop allowed the media property to flourish. Lost’s co-creation of its world with its audience is one example of a proto-power fandom. Proto, because fans steered but did not control the world they were invested in. 

The absurdist horror baseball simulation game Blaseball is another proto example. The game has an active and prolific fandom with an insanely high degree of audience participation. The game’s developers actively engage with the fandom. Even going so far as having elections on Sundays where the community can vote to change the rules of the game. 

Lastly as I mentioned last week there is LOOT. That is of course if greedy investors don’t buy up all the NFTs. LOOT being currently the first Web3 proto-power fandom means it might yet become the first one. 

Even better, what if the ownership of future worlds like LOOT aren’t endlessly fractionalised NFTs ? But instead held in common via the medium of electronic deed?

There is of course a difference between all previous shared fan fiction worlds and today. Until now fandoms have been unable to create or share value between those participating in the world.

Right now not including all the other various LOOT NFT projects. The speculative currency Adventure Gold, or $AGLD at the time of writing currently has a market cap of 160million dollars. For a crypto currency meant to be used in the game world of LOOT.

This puts LOOT’s valuation as a franchise alongside the total franchise value of a Robocop. The Omen franchise or Bridget Jones.

Power Fandoms are exciting. They have implications for the creation of future MMEWS ( Massively Multiplayer Entertainment Worlds). Or MILEs (Massive Interactive Live Events). 

But also for the way that we as ‘the folk’ create, control, and own culture after a century of enclosure. 

My hopes and dreams for LOOT to become a power fandom are probably misplaced. 

It is far more likely that the first power fandom will come from the Furries.

As a community they already have well established economic production norms. A far stronger sense of community and solidarity that can be found anywhere in web3’s ecosystem. They build and roll their own infrastructure and technology. Plus they have actual extant socialist economic relations within their community.

Power Fandoms will fund themselves. 

Let’s roll our own culture.


The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the audio due to time constraints.

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9 responses to “Power Fandoms | 2134”

  1. […] of the detail in that episode came from research for my Solarpunk novel. And I also think the last three episodes have contributed something. Thoughts that have been rattling around for a long time and I’m […]

  2. […] the reality of playing D&D suggests that there could be a real oppertunity for WotC to embrace Power Fandoms and really foreground players ‘doing their thing’ in the world of […]

  3. […] Storytelling’ unit. Right now, remarkable things are happening in Web3 with Permissive IPs, Power Fandoms and collective storytelling […]

  4. […] some context for this episode I refer you episodes 2133, and 2134 on collective storytelling and power fandoms. Also, my post on Craving Canon and media […]

  5. […] Alongside the developments in Permissive IPs, AI generation. my continuing engagement with Solarpunk, and other World Running endeavours: I am 100% convinced that community owned, co-created worlds, and stories are the future of media. We are entering the age of the Power Fandom. […]

  6. […] the world model to expand your little corner of the world you’re ‘playing’ in. Power Fandoms can then collectively get inside the world model and fully explore the ideas contained inside the […]

  7. […] film and comic-book universes with cross media rights, histories and IP, bottom up web3 / power fandoms, theme parks, public buildings, collaborative writing projects, offices, video chat tools and […]

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    Jay Springett is consultant strategist, currently specialising in web3, the metaverse, and world running.

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