she has an IQ of 1001, she has her jumpsuit on, and she's also a telephone

Mapping

I wanted to make a thread map for this project. I started off with the idea of researching a known serial killer and making a red thread map of their victims and modus operandi, and originally I wanted to turn my entire room into a thread map, much in the style of Sherlock Holmes’ red web of crime.

However I felt a crime thread web was a little too conventional. Another theme I briefly considered was mapping character development or character relationships, so I combined the two ideas to make a thread web of character life events or movements.

I first wanted to map out the lives of the characters in Ian McEwan’s Atonement, which is one of my favourite novels, but found I wanted more characters to play with. I knew I wanted something with a long and complex plot and many characters, as this would be the most interesting to visually map out. Although I did want to avoid using Harry Potter because I feel I use it as subject matter too much in my classes, I ended up giving in and doing so simply because it had the plot and characters I wanted but I also knew their movements by memory. By now I was running out of time to finish the project and had to start something.

Turning my entire room into a map proved impossible, so I moved everything off my desk and used that instead, making it on a smaller scale. I started making a rudimentary map with red yarn.

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At this point I realised that my map wasn’t functioning well as a map – every character’s life, represented by red thread, was indistinguishable from all the other red thread. I cut the threads and pulled out some embroidery thread.

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So, starting again, painfully.

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It took a couple of days to work on it. Halfway through I had to make a mad dash to the store to get some more thread. I attached the threads to the table by blu-tacking the labels down and then driving a pin through the blu-tack to wrap the threads around. The board behind the table was an actual corkboard and much easier to work with.

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I used a clay castle I made around age thirteen as a representation of Hogwarts, and attached thread to it either by winding it around the battlements, threading it through the windows, or using the same blu-tack pin method as detailed above.

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I assigned colour according to what I felt best fit each character. Ron Weasley is a redhead, and the colour of his favourite sports team is orange, so orange was his colour. Hermione Granger is usually described as wearing shades of purple or blue, so violet was her colour. Lily’s green eyes are an actual plot point, so her thread is green. Snape is famous for wearing black – though his colour was the only one I changed, as at one point the character switches sides from evil to good, so I tied white thread onto the end of his black thread and continued on with that until the day he dies.

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The end of Snape’s thread. Crucifixes tied to the ends of threads signified death of the character. This for me drew attention to the parallel between this project and the Fates of Greek mythology severing the threads of life.

I wanted Harry himself to stand out, being the protagonist and thus the actual focus of the “directions”. I chose metallic gold thread for him, which got tangled easily and twisted like crazy, but stood out brightly.

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As seen above with the joined threads of ‘the Golden Trio’, (Harry, Ron, and Hermione), I braided or twisted threads together to show friendships or romantic partners. This can also be seen with the Marauders (James, Peter, Remus and Sirius), and James and Lily’s marriage, and Snape and Lily’s early childhood friendship.

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Above: Chocolate frog wrapper for the chocolates eaten on the train. Joined threads in bottom right hand corner left to right; the Golden Trio, the Marauders, and Snape and Lily.

After I’d strung up most of the threads I re-wrote the labels nicely and replaced them – that was particularly gruelling work, threads flying everywhere and having to be re-positioned. I then twisted the remaining character threads (those that hadn’t yet died by this point in the plot) around a broken drumstick in the centre of the castle, held upright by a ridiculous amount of blu-tack and many, many interweaving threads. This signified the Battle of Hogwarts, the final showdown in the last book which ends with the defeat of the antagonist and the triumph of the surviving protagonists. I finished by scattering “props” around the map which were associated with certain parts of it.

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Full view of the finished map.

 

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Close up of the castle.

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A plush toy of Fawkes the Phoenix, associated with his master Dumbledore’s organisation the Order of the Phoenix.

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A lock on the wizarding prison Azkaban.

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Godric’s Hollow – birthplace of Harry, childhood home of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, and also where James and Lily Potter died.

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Harry’s home with his rather unpleasant extended family. His white owl, Hedwig, a “muggle” badge for his muggle relatives, and a pot of ink for letter writing.

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Bottom left corner; visitors to the Shrieking Shack over the years.

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Where Dumbledore is killed.

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More close-ups.

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Malfoy Manor, stronghold of the Death Eaters from 1997-98.

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Former Black family residence turned base for the Order from 1995-96.

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Voldy’s super duper cool death club.

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The Wizarding Wars.

 

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The Burrow, home of the Weasley family. Close by is a packet of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, popular with the Weasley kids.

 

 

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The deaths of Remus Lupin and Bellatrix Lestrange at the Battle of Hogwarts.

 

 

My map is one of intense detail and is designed to be followed by touch – following the threads along with the fingertips. Because of this it is difficult to translate into a blog post. Dates and events are written in green ink, characters and places in black ink – with the exception of the above “Battle of Hogwarts” label.

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Severus Snape and Lily Evans grow up in/near Spinner’s End and are childhood friends, bonding over their shared magic.

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Close-up of the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Voldemort’s threads cross higher up than the others, signifying their final battle.

 

As seen in the above picture, the strands of the surviving characters (at least those represented in this map), lead upwards the shelf above the table. They disappear behind the book pictured below as this is the final scene of the books and also the last we see of those characters.

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The disappearing threads of Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger.

The directions of this map are simple – follow the threads to follow the life stories. Although the Harry Potter series has a vast collection of characters, here I could only fit in those which directly influence the overall plot of the series in significant ways. One can choose to follow the golden thread to view the story from Harry’s perspective, or choose to follow it from Lily’s, Peter’s, Dumbledore’s, or Voldemort’s perspective. The map presents the stories as a cohesive whole, existing all at once – each story in relation to the others. It is also interesting to note the most frequented places apart from Hogwarts castle are the Shrieking Shack and Godric’s Hollow. In total the map extends over more than a century from 1881 to 2017, taking in not only Harry’s life but the lives of his parents and their friends, and of Voldemort fifty years before Harry, leading all the way back to Dumbledore at the start of the 20th century.

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Complete map from left to right; Godric’s Hollow, Privet Drive, Azkaban, The Burrow, Hogwarts Express, The Order, Hogwarts Castle, The Prophecy, the Wizarding Wars, The Death Eaters, Grimmauld Place, Malfoy Manor. Bottom right hand corner; a snitch, round glasses, and Harry’s wand to symbolise the protagonist.

Derive

Make a paper aeroplane and throw it. Walk in the direction in which it lands until you arrive at a street. Walk in a westerly direction along the street. Turn left at the first corner and then right at the next corner. Keep walking on that street for two more streets then turn left again and walk for 100 metres. Now return to your original position using a route alternate to the one you have just taken.

One of my bus routes has a stop at a park, which I thought would be a pleasant place to start. The area is unknown to me but it’s close to the university campus – about eleven minutes on the bus.

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This is a paper aeroplane I made a few months ago, modelled in a bought of boredom after the paper aeroplane which features in Disney’s 2012 short film Paperman.

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So, following the directions I went.

 

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In considering the lecture and reading material relevant to the assignment, I found myself thinking a lot about ‘the Gruen transfer’ and disciplinary architecture, specifically the idea of public spaces having set rules and intentions around which they are structured – shopping malls for shopping etc. I looked a lot at signs and the directions and rules which they displayed.

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Found myself at another park.

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Here I found a lovely garden at the back of a school.

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A lovely garden with creepy and very interesting scarecrows.

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I got lost in the endeavour to find my way back to the park bus stop, however. I attempted to make a circle back to it through suburbia, which turned out to be the worst idea I’d had all day. What I’d hoped would be grid streets were instead looping streets intersecting with other looping streets. Eventually I abandoned the last direction and instead wandered aimlessly looking at flowers.

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I was especially pleased to find these flowers, as I’m particularly fond of them.

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I saw a butterfly and chased it down a street to take a photograph of it.

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After a while I became a bit more concerned about being lost in an unfamiliar neighbourhood and concentrated instead on finding my way back home, as the day was getting late and my camera had run flat. I managed to find my way to a larger part of town and to a shopping centre, where I caught a similar bus route back to campus (where I live).

I enjoy walking, and when I visit my father where he lives in the Blue Mountains I walk around the waterfalls a lot, often taking different routes. I find I often focus a lot of the detail of my surroundings, and on the wildlife and flora, as can be seen in the photos above. Although my derive ended a little disastrously, such mishap is something I’m fairly accustomed to – one example being a wrong turn in a little waterfall walk expedition resulting in a three hour bushwalk back to the top of the valley. I do always find I enjoy distraction and deviation though, and at night in the central city I love walking over the bridge and around Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. Derives in the sense of “locomotion without goal” are something I do regularly – though perhaps it could be argued that in a derive the goal is to have no goal.

Final blog submission

In Sound Experimentation I compare the usability of the audio mixing programs Garageband and Audacity, and present some examples of sound files in the forms of songs and mixed audio clips. This shows practical application of ideas and working with creative tools. History of Networked Participation discusses general involvement in fan communities online and the influence fandom has had on my life whilst participating in it. Although this is similar to earlier posts which reference fanfiction and Tumblr I aimed to focus on the development of my participation in networked culture, which has always leaned heavily towards fan-orientated things. I discuss the context in which the internet exists in Evolution of the Internet, exploring ways in which that context has changed as the internet has grown by comparing the motivation behind its birth to the reasons for which it is primarily used in the modern day. I also consider what possibilities the future holds at the rate the internet continues to expand and we continue to deeply immerse ourselves in it. The Rise and Rise of the Networked Empire explores the affect which the internet has had and continues to have on our culture and society, in the way we relate to the people around us and the way we function. This post focuses mainly on the rapidly changing social environment which is forming around us under the influence of the internet. Finally, the post on Internet Censorship looks to the darker possibilities and extremes which could lay ahead of us if we allow our government to restrict our access to a free and uncensored internet.

Internet Censorship

One of the most powerful things networked culture offers us is a chance to speak openly, and to share our ideas with others without the pressure to conform or filter ourselves. Normally, this should be a basic human right, but it has been taken away from many and is slipping away from others still.

My first encounters with internet censorship were in signing petitions against bills such as ACTA and SOPA, both intended to censor what occurred and what was shared on the internet, aimed at combatting piracy and illegal file-sharing but with the potential to do much greater damage as well as inflict unreasonably harsh consequences for piracy. The battles against such restricting laws are still ongoing, and some countries are already under their jurisdiction. Having read about the bills online, I was far more concerned about them than most of my peers were and are, mainly being under the belief that such laws “really couldn’t affect things that much”. For me, the idea of any kind of internet censorship made me uncomfortable, because I was so aware how invaluable the internet was as a place of free speech.

The internet not only serves as a mouthpiece for every minority, giving voice to those who are silenced, censored by the media and squashed out of sight, but it is also the quickest way to relay information around the globe in times of need. During the revolution in Egypt which began in 2011, many bloggers on the internet voiced fears that the internet would be censored and that they would be cut off and isolated, unable to tell the rest of the world – including loved ones overseas – what was happening in their country. More recently protests in Turkey escalated from a peaceful protest against park development to all-out police brutality of an extreme order, all of which was tracked by bloggers and online press to both deliver the updates on the news quickly and allow the people themselves to give their accounts of the events, which in their detail prove more vicious than what the general media reports. During the Boston Marathon Bombing, Google launched the Person Finder, an online tool which could be used to help locate missing friends and family during the ordeal.

As well as resource for emergencies, the internet is a resource for information not usually shared or even acknowledged in mainstream media. Sites such as Transanarchism provide information about trans* people which simply isn’t accessible to most people, and thus help to fight stigma and transphobia by teaching people a different way of thinking. Other such sites exist for different sexualities, religions, and lifestyles, as well as the sharing of other information which some people might not know or have access to in their own lives. For example, how about some self-defence classes? Or do you need to learn how to do the Thriller dance by next Wednesday?

Whatever information is being shared, the internet is one of the few easily accessible, self-publishing spaces available to the public. However, many countries have already lost that space through heavy censorship. Examining a list of countries that censor their internet, I found that the Turkmenistan Government regulates Google, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts and blocks human rights organisations and news feeds, while China “blocks or filters Internet content relating to Tibetan independence, Taiwan independence, police brutality, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, [and] freedom of speech” among other things. Things get even more extreme in Iran, where bloggers must register any blog and are “detained and harassed” if they speak against the government or religious figures. In Iran webpages are filtered out if they pertain to various things such as political criticism and women’s rights.

When taking into account the extreme cases undergoing in other countries, I think it is not unreasonable to be concerned about the possibility of our government moving towards internet filtering, especially when it’s so clear that we take our dependence on our own networks for granted. We’re so used to connection and free access that we can barely imagine anything else, and this in itself is reason to protect that freedom. Whether comparatively mild or undeniably harsh, censorship of the internet is not something to shrug off.

The Rise and Rise of the Networked Empire

As I discussed in my previous post, the internet has evolved over the years and is still constantly shifting and developing. We have become a networked culture, and as we grow ever more connected to the internet, society will continue to rapidly evolve along with it and already has in the past decade. The development of the internet, (and technology in general), has accelerated wildly, and in recent years access to the internet has become available not only on computers but on mobile phones and tablets. Because our connection has become almost completely constant and absolute, we have learnt to incorporate the internet more and more into our routines, habits, and customs, as well as our problem-solving and expression. It is unavoidable that this will affect our society and culture in a number of ways.

The changes which perhaps first leap to mind are that of a social nature. Our modern day lives are conducted through a labyrinth of social networking – we always remain connected to those around us. For many, the tendency to stay connected to our social surroundings is expressed through Facebook and other networking sites. For me personally I know that I and the other students I live with in residential college spend almost all our waking hours in contact in some way or another. When we aren’t eating our meals together, we’re doing our shopping together, studying together, or simply hanging around each other’s rooms like a semi-permanent wall fixture. When we aren’t in face-to-face contact, we call each other on Skype and hold long conversations, text each other, and message each other in a constantly going chat box open in Facebook. For a group our size, comprised of roughly thirteen people, even when living together the odds are that at any given time one of us will be absent from the gathering. Our contact through Skype and social networking online and via our phones allows us to circumvent this, relay information, organise outings, etc.

Through online networking I also remain in contact with friends who live overseas, and I’m far from being the only one who has found close friends over the internet. The entire planet is more connected than it has ever been before, and with that comes a new opportunity to make friends, and even meet significant others. The latter is an occurrence which is becoming more and more common even without the growing influence of online dating sites – increasingly people are meeting over forums and social networks not even specifically aimed at dating. Both friendships and romances open up new problems: long distance, poorly co-ordinated timezones, and the odd feeling of missing someone who you’ve “never technically met in person”.

Warned off from talking to strangers online from a young age, I’ve always been hesitant to admit to my parents that the friend I’ve been waxing lyrical about was someone I met online, instead always loosely describing them as “a friend of a friend who I went to school with but then they moved away and now they live in America”. Slowly, however, befriending strangers online will likely become more acceptable as our society adapts to new ways of relating to the people around us.

Politically the internet represents an open field for picket signs. Although censoring occurs in an alarming amount of countries, the countries which still enjoy relatively censorship-free internet access have a space in which they can effectively publish their opinions and beliefs and share information without having to go through a newspaper or magazine. The freedom of speech which this affords is liberating and, in a society where we as the general public are largely told what to think by the media, a refreshing education.

On the whole, human culture is shifting to accommodate the internet, just as the internet in turn is lending itself to become more serviceable to its users, faster, more convenient, with an ever-growing list of functions and opportunities. We are now able to take aspects of our existence as thoroughly explored as commerce or creative art to a higher and previously un-imagined plane, as we learn to re-programme our own terms of thinking. We expand our own horizons, even as cynics wearily claim that there is nothing new left to discover. The interactive, organic, communal, and constantly expanding universe of the internet begs to differ.

Evolution of the Internet

As the internet has evolved over time, so has the context in which it is thought of, approached, and utilized. The internet originated in the context of war, as networks were developed from the Second World War and in through the Cold War, made to combat threats, connect armies, and intercept enemy information. Early networks bridged universities and military bases, transferring and sharing information over long distances as well as making record of known information where it could be easily accessed. These networks, such as ARPAnet, RAND, and CYCLADES, were born out of necessity and urgency, made for the purposes such as science and defence, intended to safeguard against the imminent threat of nuclear war.

It was for this purpose that networks became decentralised and distributed, to further protect communication lines from possible annihilation. As programmers worked to achieve higher rates of efficiency and operational capacity, the separate networks gave way to the slowly evolving internet, which began to be used not only by universities and the military, but by the general public as well. This network was the World Wide Web, introduced by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991.

It was around the early 1990’s that a definite shift in the context of the internet emerged. No longer was it designed to be a weapon or a defence against attack, or developed in a frantic technology race out of necessity. In 1992, Mosaic (later renamed Netscape) was launched as a web browser engine, enabling users “to see words and pictures on the same page for the first time and to navigate using scrollbars and clickable links”. Larry Paige and Sergey Brin were hot on the trail of the university students and researchers who created Mosaic, and by 1998 Google was up and running. Only two years later when the 21st Century clicked over Google had developed the first billion-URL index and become the largest search engine in the world.

From there the internet has expanded further and further into the seemingly limitless possibilities that virtual space offers. The internet is now used not only to share scientific research and data but any information at all; it is used commercially, for communication, banking, and entertainment. Social networking has flowered especially as more and more people are connected worldwide, and ideas of internet dating or even internet friendships which seemed laughable, unfeasible or ridiculous only a few years ago are now confirmed reality and approaching the norm.

At present the internet is not unlike a huge, virtual, ever-expanding and globally accessible city, equipped with large parks for play and enjoyment, art murals, strange street performers, cheap wares and never-ending shopping malls were almost anything can be found. There are constantly updating libraries of the most current information, added to by the public as well as the experts. There are also unpleasant shady back alleys for deals ranging from illegal torrenting to illicit pornography.

The internet has become such an intrinsic part of everyday life, and I often hear variants of the sentiment “I actually can’t remember what I did before I was online”. Even brief glitches in servers or wifi connection are cause for annoyance and frustration, because so much of our lives exist online and depend on an internet connection. Concerns have been raised over glitches caused by spamming such as in the recent spam attack by Cyberbunk, described as “the largest cyber attack in the history of the internet”.  In this incident, a war between the above mentioned spamming company and Spamhaus, a group aiming to provide blacklists of spammers to help filter them out, has led to escalating attacks on the Spamhaus servers using the main core of the internet, effectively using all connected computers to attack Spamhaus.

“A typical denial-of-service attack tends to affect only a small number of networks. But in the case of a DNS flood attack, data packets are aimed at the victim from servers all over the world. Such attacks cannot easily be stopped, computer security experts say, because those servers cannot be shut off without halting the internet.”

The attacks caused users worldwide to experience short periods of “congestion and jamming”, who were unable to access basic internet services. A particular worry was that future such attacks could lead to problems accessing such important everyday faculties as email and banking online, and it is such incidents that force us to admit just how much of ourselves we invest in the internet. Most of our mail, our connections to other people, our finances. I myself have friends overseas who would be very difficult to maintain a regular friendship with without the convenience of the internet – no waiting weeks for letters to arrive, simply the annoyance of navigating timezone differences.

In the future, as the internet continues to evolve and as we continue to assimilate ourselves so deeply into it, we must also consider the matter of how much personal information we entrust to the internet; services such as Google+ take record of our conversations and store information about them, and even Facebook is constantly recording information about us in order to tailor its advertisements to us. Most people don’t even consider the possible ramifications of handing over personal details we would never entrust to a stranger without knowing where that information will stored, how it will be used, and who will have access to it – we merrily hand over our address, our full name, our date of birth, our phone numbers, and we avoid reading the Terms and Conditions at all costs. We blindly trust, and perhaps, after stepping away with a more critical eye, that it is a little bit frightening.

History of Networked Participation

My main involvement with network culture began when I was roughly twelve years old, shortly after Billie Piper left Doctor Who in 2006. I remember this because her character, Rose Tyler, had been my favourite, and it was through my sadness at her departure that I discovered fanfiction for the time. The piece I read was about 500 words long, and vapid in hindsight, a simple “fix-it” fic which mainly just pretended that the entire episode where Rose left didn’t include Rose leaving. In retrospection it was silly and embarrassingly written, but to my twelve year old self it introduced a wondrous concept – if you disliked something which happened in the canon of a show, you could simply create your own version of it. The idea of the fan taking control and setting their own terms for enjoyment was alien and new to me at the time.

From there I delved further into the online Doctor Who fandom – I regularly checked Outpost Gallifrey, a DW fansite which at the time had entered its twilight years, (by then it was nearly as old as I was), and mainly served as a newsfeed for Doctor Who fans. I lurked about various other fansites, some specifically for Doctor Who and others aimed more generally. The fan communities on Livejournal and Deviantart were what I mainly visited. Still I was always nothing more than a “lurker”, I didn’t take part in the community or offer my own material.

In the meantime most my age had long been involved with Facebook, but I was never as invested in it as I was in peering about fan communities and looking longingly in on the fun, often following threads long after they had been abandoned. By this time I had also begun reading TV Tropes, an extensive and ever growing wiki dedicated to defining and discussing tropes in television. In late 2010 I joined Tumblr, which was where I did less dipping my toe into online culture and more plunging in headfirst. Tumblr is a giant cesspool to which most fandoms inevitably drain, and once there I was participating daily in analytical discussions, heavy debates about the significance of the Tenth Doctor’s tie, idiotic jokes about fictional characters, and all-round overloads of emotion about fandom in general. I went quite quickly from doing nothing to writing fanfiction drabbles, uploading fanart, and keeping up to date with television shows with all the dedication of an overzealous religious fanatic.

As with the trope “TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary”, I found that participating in fan communities gave me a load of new invented words to drive any spell-checker insane with. These days I often find myself struggling to define to others words and expressions which are so absorbed into my everyday vocabulary that I never even think about them; “shipping”, “squick”,“head canon”, “binary gender”, “misappropriation”, “erasure”, the list goes on.

And as my vocabulary has completely adopted the words of the network culture I’m involved in, so has my general day to day life. When I think about it I realise that there is very rarely a day when I do nothing involved with some aspect of online culture – I am on the internet, reading, watching, rifling through art, loudly arguing the finer points of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, every single day of my life. I am now mainly occupied in writing fan-songs about books, shows, and films, and I aim to utilise my experience of network culture in my later career and everyday life – though considering how entwined those two things are I doubt I could separate them even if I tried to.