kaigou: don't go all fangirl on me now (2 fangirl)
[personal profile] kaigou
A completely tongue-in-cheek (or shark-tooth-in-kneecap, as case may be) representation of the past twenty-four hours' realization that coming out from under the bed was A BAD IDEA. (You know I love you guys... right? You do know that, right? Right?)

A visual representation of my brain right now:

It starts with a story. IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH A STORY.

But then, the writer tells you, it's not just a story. It's a continuation or it has a prequel and two sequels or it's the seventeenth chapter in a ninety-chapter opus. WHATEVER. It's part of a string.

You string them together. Easy.

But you forgot that's not all, the author says. There's more. A sequel that's whole 'nother string of one-shots! Or a prequel, or a whatever. Okay. Link them together. No sweat.

"Oh, well, actually," the author says, and says it so very politely, and that right there is a BAD SIGN. When fan-writers get polite and then apologetic, you know something truly bizarre is about to come from their keyboard.

Like, say, the news that the so-easy one-shot that grew into a story that is actually part of a series is... well, it's got other stuff, too. They kinda belong together.

Sidestories, or random alternate chapters and deleted scenes and who-knows what else. But they're connected, see, in some way. So you freaking CONNECT them. Not quite so easy, but with a little jerry-rigging, hey. What's a bit of archive hack amongst friends, right?

And then you stick the author's name on it. Done!

Not so fast, the author says, actually, see, you forgot about... Bad phrase is danger sign! Sudden sense of IMPENDING DOOM! ...and the fan-writer politely explains: the last two parts of the first story, there, there are two authors for those two parts. So shouldn't those chapters be listed under both author names?

Right, right, you say. Of COURSE. A few more hacks to allow dual-naming on a by-chapter basis. Whew. That wasn't so bad...

...except, the author informs you -- not quite so politely now, because obviously you MISSED the copious memos amongst whatever sub-section of the fandom is intent on DRIVING YOU BONKERS, and there are in fact two authors for the sequel but the second author dropped out and they're not talking anymore, anyway, so it's possible the second author might not want to be listed after all, and don't forget someone else joined in on finishing up, though really it's that the person wrote one of the scenes and the chapter got written around it, so that person should get some kind of credit, right?

Yeah. Uh. That is, RIGHT! Righto. Right on that.

Then go weep quietly in the corner at how wrecked your neat code and organized database has become, and wonder why everyone else's content management systems so naturally assume one work, one author, period, end of sentence, let's go for a goddamn drink. Or do fan-writers simply never choose to torment developers for major content management applications? Is it only just you? Maybe it's personal.

Then you open the next email and realize: oh, it's beyond personal, now. Because either the authors are grinning like madmen in the corner while rubbing their hands together in evil glee over your incoming bout with this season's ultimate accessory, the hug-me coat, or the authors are convinced you're secretly in that coat already because can anyone be this clueless? How could you NOT NOTICE the endless discussions and NOT KNOW just what the fandom is up to? That archive thing means you keep TRACK, right?

Insert flailing developer, here.

Desperate coding later, the database is truly screwed. Nobody BREATHE or it might collapse like the half-baked house of cards it's become. Because you just lost your last bit of self-preservation and thought to ask about the chronology, because the author did ask -- and very politely, back during the polite-and-apologetic stage -- that if you could, to please also list the chapters chronologically. And you said (like the masochistic idiot you are), sure! No problem!

Except that, see, chronology to anyone else means 1-2-3. We, however, are discussing FAN WRITERS. Chronology to a fan writer is like speed limits for taxi drivers: it's where you start but you sure don't end up there. With MUCH MOCKING along the way at every notion of chronology ever...

No longer weeping, now the archivist just huddles under the sofa. The entire auto-numbering schema has just been shot through with rock salt, drenched in hydrogen peroxide, rolled into leftover lasagna and set out in the sun to get second-degree burns in the noonday heat. In other words, it's pretty much WHACKED and there will be NO BRINGING IT BACK.

You could add comments here about the archive-developer's sanity, but it'd be pointless, because any such comments would be assuming there was any sanity to begin with. AND CLEARLY THERE WAS NOT, or we wouldn't be staring in morbid fascination at these pretty pictures, now, would we?


There's a shared world! And some of these stories are part of it, but not all the chapters, and there are other stories written by other people, some of whom also wrote other parts of other people's stories, and some of them riff off another person's stories and some write alternate endings for someone else's story while some write alternate endings for their own stories. But you can't just ignore that! You said you'd link to stuff and find a way that readers could track through the stories. YOU PROMISED! You said you could do this!

Archivist is no longer flailing, nor even hiding. Archivist has left the building, archivist has moved and left no forwarding address. Not that there's any hope. Wherever you go, FANDOM CAN FIND YOU.

Because that STILL isn't enough horror to visit upon the unwary development organization-happy brain. Now that fandom's suspicions are proven true that archivist-developer is badly out of depth, fandom has scented blood and will now practice fandom's own version of jumping the shark, though in this case it's more that fandom will force the DEVELOPER to do the jumping. Of the sharks. Known as fan-writers.

There's another story -- we've moved into imperious mode for the benefit of having to talk to developer who's reached the state of gibberish at best and mostly drool on the keyboard at worst -- and that story is also a sequel of the first story but goes in a different direction and was written by this other person, the last chapter of which ties into these other two stories in that shared world or more precisely there's some characters from there who show up in here so really the stories are connected, sort of, and here's the chronology because those stories are sort of linked to the original series but there were these other stories that are like side-stories but it helps to read them in this order, and don't you dare forget that these authors don't want their names listed because they don't want to be archived by a mouth-breathing developer who spends all day sitting in a corner and banging the head against the wall. Repeatedly.

So the fandom shows its teeth and says jump and the archivist JUMPS and the entire database schema isn't even a house of cards, it's more like a really elaborate and entirely too unstable house of cards balanced on top of an overlarge eighty-pound mobile hanging from the ceiling by a single drywall screw.

Now all the developer has to do is keep jumping, in between drooling and sobbing madly for not avoiding the fandom thing and going with the local bowling league like the older brother had suggested. Jump, little developer, jump! The fan-writing sharks are going to rip you to shreds!

Then they'll write stories celebrating their victory.

Now you know.

That is my brain, on fandom.

in case it's not obvious, this post is a JOKE, and mostly on me: because some fandoms days you're the shark, and some fandoms days you're the chum.

Date: 20 Jun 2010 02:02 am (UTC)
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] branchandroot
Yeah, WP is really only sufficient for a one-author archive, where the author can control it all. Even just cross-listing a co-author's stuff was a ridiculous amount of PITA. And two separate arc-verse-things just got a freaking index table, stuffed into its own entry, to display the relation and time-overlap of the parts because a list was insufficient.

...have you considered throwing the lot to AO3 via Open Doors? I bet you could make it break in new and interesting ways for the delectation of developers who are not you.

Date: 20 Jun 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
annotated_em: a branch of a Japanese maple, with bright red leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] annotated_em
Oh god, I've been that author. *meeps and hides from you*

Date: 20 Jun 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] axelrod
Uh, I hope you don't mind if I read this as a narrative about the non-linearity of fanworks :p

Code-wise (not that you want to be thinking about code right now) something like what they do at Visual Thesaurus might help reflect the complicated relationships among narratives you describe.
Edited (HTML error) Date: 20 Jun 2010 03:34 am (UTC)

Date: 20 Jun 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ravensilver

I love it.

Thank you.

I have just spent five minutes of my dreary rainy day laughing my heart out!

*pets you*

There, there. I'm sure you'll do just fine...

*another spasm of tearful laughter under the table*

I'm sure you'll get it all straightened out... some day.


By the way, love all those little symbols that you used. Shiny! :)

Date: 20 Jun 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
phoebe_zeitgeist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist
I understand that this is a joke, really I do. A joke with fangs, is all.

But I'm going to go off on something of a tangent anyway, and say that speaking as a person who knows nothing whatsoever about coding or how archiving works or anything, I think fandom needs a consultation with a law librarian. Lawyers working in common-law systems deal with materials and sources that accrete in much the same way as giant shared-world story systems, and that are interconnected in endless varieties of ways, and there are entire armies of organizers and archivists constantly going all over the material as it's added in a desperate effort to mark possible interconnections and to just plain keep up.

Armies of them. People hired to write synopses of courts' opinions, so that there'll be something to tell readers what a case might be about before they've read fifty pages of background about a contract gone horribly wrong. People hired to keep track of every opinion that cites a previous opinion, and to put them all in a running list somewhere. People making lists of the reasons for those citations, so that you have some hope of knowing whether a later case cited Hudnut for its thoughts on yaoi oppression or whether it cited Hudnut for its thoughts about severability, before you've had to pull the thing and read it and find out for yourself that it isn't about the point you're interested in.

Sound familiar? I can't imagine a single archivist trying to replicate this kind of reference structure, nor can I imagine a set of writers actually demanding it. Even in a small way, once you start thinking about people's time it's insanely expensive. Why not just demand a villa on Capri while you're at it?

Date: 20 Jun 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
phoebe_zeitgeist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist
Fear not. I never thought this was a metafandom kind of post, not even for a nanosecond.

And now, to demonstrate my utter alien cluelessness, um, what is a "NPC from an Adam Ant video"? Now I'm wondering whether I look like one.

Date: 21 Jun 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
sothcweden: birds flying high at sunset/dawn (Default)
From: [personal profile] sothcweden
This is completely hilarious. And actually somewhat believable since learning that my favorite fanfic author is working on a new set of stories that are an AU of an AU of an AU of canon. And some of the AUs are cowritten, and some aren't, and their are other authors dabbling in all of them. I'll bet it would be a challenge to archive all of it, but what a ride!