"Watching, creating, and archiving" paper published in Convergence

11 Feb, 2015

"Watching, creating, and archiving" paper published in Convergence

The paper "Watching, creating, and archiving: Observations on the quantity and temporality of fannish productivity in online fan fiction archives" has just been published here in Convergence. It was written by Abigail De Kosnik, Laurent El Ghaoui, Vera Cuntz-Leng, Andrew Godbehere, Andrea Horbinski, Adam Hutz, Renée Pastel, and Vu Pham.


"In the Fan Data project, we collected data from online databases that archive media fan production (specifically, fictional fan texts). We developed software and visualization tools to analyze these archives. Digital analysis focused on counting and graphing the rate of the fan fiction production over time in three Hollywood blockbuster movie fandoms: The Avengers, the Batman trilogy, and Inception. We found that audiences grant a great deal of ‘mindshare’ to media texts and create fan works in response to those texts immediately after viewing a film but that what sustains fan productivity are the attractiveness of specific online archiving platforms and the liveliness of activity in a given fandom. Internet archives have a decisive function in offering the creative and conserving infrarstructure for ‘unofficial’ communication, art, and knowledge. Today, they are trendsetting organs and their impact verifies the assumption that the Hollywood studios’ market strategies are not the sole, or most crucial, predictors or determinants of audience engagement."

Author Biographies

Abigail De Kosnik is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, with a joint appointment in the Berkeley Center for New Media ( and in the Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies. Her book on digital archives is forthcoming from the MIT Press in 2015. She has published articles on media fandom, popular digital culture, and performance studies in Cinema Journal, The International Journal of Communication, Modern Drama, Transformative Works and Cultures and elsewhere. She is the coeditor, with Sam Ford and C Lee Harrington, of the edited essay collection The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era (University Press of Mississippi, 2011). She and Sam Ford also wrote the annotated bibliography on ‘Soap Operas’ for Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO).

Laurent El Ghaoui graduated from Ecole Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France) in 1985 and obtained his doctor of philosophy in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University in March 1990. He was a faculty member of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées (Paris, France) from 1992 until 1999 and held part-time teaching appointments at Ecole Polytechnique within the Applied Mathematics department and Université de Paris-I (La Sorbonne) in mathematics in economy program. He joined the Berkeley faculty in April 1999 as an acting associate professor and obtained his tenure in May 2001. He went on leave from UC from July 2003 until September 2006 to work for SAC Capital Management, a hedge fund based in New York and Connecticut. Since then he is back full time at UC Berkeley in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. He teaches optimization in that department and a class on optimization models within the masters in financial engineering at the Haas School of Business. He is the recipient of a Bronze Medal for Engineering Sciences from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), a CAREER award, an Okawa research grant, and a Google research grant. He is also the corecipient of an SIAM optimization prize.

Vera Cuntz-Leng was a visiting researcher at the Berkeley Center for New Media of the University of California, Berkeley in 2013–14, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Media Studies at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany. She studied film and theater science in Mainz, Marburg, and Vienna. She received her doctor of philosophy from the Department of Media Studies at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, with a thesis about the intersecting relations between queer reading, slash fandom, and the fantasy genre in Harry Potter. She has published on Harry Potter, transmediality, science fiction and fantasy film, fandom and subculture, color aesthetics, Indian cinema, Japanese cinema, and Peter Weir. She is the editor of a forthcoming anthology about fan culture and fan practices in Germany.

Andrew Godbehere is a PhD candidate in electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley. Advised by Laurent El Ghaoui, his research focuses on novel combinations of statistical modeling and numerical optimization to achieve efficient insight into very large databases. Applying his research to large text corpuses including Twitter, fan fiction, and news archives, he is developing a software library to bring advanced computational tools to humanities scholars. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science from Cornell University and has publications in controls and computer vision. He was the lead developer on the interactive audio installation ‘Are We There Yet?’ at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in 2011.

Andrea Horbinski is a PhD candidate in modern Japanese history with a designated emphasis in New Media at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work focuses on the history of manga and the role fan production has played in it from a transnational perspective, and she has discussed fandom, anime, manga, and Japanese history and folklore at conventions and conferences on three continents, including WisCon, AnimeExpo, and HASTAC. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Organization for Transformative Works and on the Advisory Board of the Ada Initiative, and her articles and reviews have appeared in The WisCon Chronicles, Transformative Works and Cultures, and Mechademia.

Adam Hutz is a fourth-year graduate student from UC Berkeley’s Rhetoric Department writing on turn-of-the-20th-century US fiction, representations of industrialization and modernity in anglophone literature, rhetorics of the image, the history of consumerism, and the complex marriage of literature and advertising beginning in the mid-19th century. His work with Berkeley Center for New Media seeks to automate the finding of rhetorical devices in literary oeuvres in order to study big picture shapes and shiftings in authorial style during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Renée Pastel is a PhD candidate in the Department of Film & Media with a designated emphasis in New Media at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on images of contemporary social issues in terms of differences in receptivity and impact between film, television, and new visual media. She holds a masters from UC Berkeley in Film and Media and graduated magna cum laude with highest honors in field from Harvard University with an AB in Film Studies from the Visual and Environmental Studies Department, a minor in Neuroscience through Psychology, and a citation in French. Renée was the theory editor of Cinematic, Harvard’s Film Journal, from 2008 to 2009, and was cocurator of the 2013–14 Depth of Field Film + Video Series for the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley. She also codirected the short film ‘Fiat Lux Redux: The Business of Education’ and completed the French to English translation of filmmaker Agnès Varda’s Les Veuves de Noirmoutier installation at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts (March 2009).

Vu Pham is a PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley. His research interests focus on text mining, optimization, and machine learning. At Berkeley, he works with Prof El Ghaoui and publishes research articles on the applications of sparse machine learning in text analytic problems. His work had brought him the most prestigious Golden Globe award from Vietnam for young scientists (out of 10 winners). With his research, he focuses on the study of a computational model to understand the academia, including the fields of data mining and humanities via machine learning and convex optimization methods.