[W]e’ve been dismissing out of hand the things that young women get excited about for eons. Creating this weird double standard, where it’s okay to be obsessed and hysterical about some things, but not others. And in the midst of all of that – it was about me rediscovering the simple truth that fans make gorgeous digital art… And teach each other technical skills to manipulate images… And make memes…
That right under our noses, there’s a generation of young women who are video editors, graphic designers, community managers. They’re absolutely immersed in technology, every day, and we aren’t paying attention, because they’re doing it in service of something we don’t care about.
Sacha Judd on the fandom pipeline.
For the record, My First Website was a Loki/Sigyn shrine on Geocities back in, erm, circa 1998-ish? I drew all my own crappy art and made all my own crappy graphics, and the background was an intensely awful shade of chartreuse green.1 I learnt HTML from a tutorial given to me by a friend on a floppy disk, after I’d been excited to learn he ran his own Sailor Moon fanpage. By the end of high school, I was doing documentation and community management stuff for the then-largest Sailor Moon fansite, which happened to be run by a white-hat hacker. Because of him, I learnt skills like UNIX administration, the use of version control software, PHP coding, and basic penetration testing.2
Prior to all of that, I’d been pretty convinced I wanted to go to study animation at university and get a job at the then-extant Disney studios in Sydney. Afterwards, as Disney was shutting up shop and moving off shore, I decided to enroll in computer science3 and, well. That’s my STEM Origin Story. And it’s all because of Sailor Moon.
Incidentally, from “Focus Group“, i.e. The Story Wherein I Fail To Predict The Apple Watch, Lain has the following quote about pipelines:
But we still say, here’s the daycare and here’s the cafeteria. Use ’em. And, hey. Your girl’s in school. Here’s a free fucking computer for her to do her fucking homework. Facebook with her friends and fucking write her fucking porny fucking fanfic on. And meanwhile she’s makin’ friends with the kids of our fuckin’ exec team in the holiday program, and they’re writin’ their fics together and ten years later, bam! They’ve got degrees and want jobs and I’ve got a whole new fucking comms team. That’s the pipeline, man.
So, yanno. Predicting tech? Not so great. Predicting fandom as an access point into the tech sector? All over it.
- In his original version, Loki was decidedly less fashionable than his current incarnation as Lain. But, well. What can I say? It was the 90s. ^
- Which I mostly used to evade the school’s web filter to continue to access the otherwise-blocked fansite. By IP address. IKR? Such a 1337 haxx0r. ^
- My dad was overjoyed. ^