2019 Highlights

January: a time to take stock, reflect on the past year and plan for the future. About time I paused to reflect on my personal highlights of 2019.

1. #FakeWesteros

Maybe most significant was the case study I completed exploring the online community of #FakeWesteros. Emerging from the interview analysis that forms the basis of my PhD research and a previous pilot case study of Game of Thrones fans, this time I examined the interactions and engagement of fans on Twitter within the unique #FakeWesteros RP community. I specifically wanted to explore information behavior from the post-object fandom perspective– and what better way to do that then from the perspective of Game of Thrones fans coming to grips with the conclusion of their series? A write-up of results can be found here. I had the opportunity to expand on different aspects of this study in a poster at ASIS&T 2019, a paper at the Fan Studies Network Australasia conference, Nerd Nite Melbourne and Nerd Nite Edmonton.

2. SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship is a major accolade for any Canadian PhD student. I am so grateful to friends, colleagues and advisors, whose feedback and support made this award possible. Thanks to the award, I was able to attend and contribute to more academic conferences and to visit my home campus in Melbourne. It will also mean more opportunities to publish and disseminate my research over the next two years.

3. Mid-Candidature Review

I achieved a key milestone in my PhD journey at the end of 2019, the midpoint of my program. I presented progress to my committee and updated my research plan and timeline to take me to final submission of the dissertation. With the approval of supervisors and committee members, the journey forges ahead! 2020 promises to be a busy year…

4. Nerd Nite: bringing the past into the present

Stepping out my comfort zone, I agreed to present at Nerd Nite Melbourne. Rather than the academic format I am used to, I took this as an opportunity to relate a more personal story. Casting back 20 years to my initiation into the (then new) virtual universe of the internet (or, rather, “World Wide Web”), I shared my story of discovering and finding my identity and place in an online community. That story begins with Hatrack River Young Writers Forum, a bulletin board for young aspiring creatives once hosted on the official website of author Orson Scott Card. It continues with the creation of a new space, Sleepless Whispers Writers Forum, where the community eventually emigrated and lived on. Thrived, for a time. I compared this formative experience of pre-Web 2.0 social media with the community practices observed in the #FakeWesteros Twitter community. By identifying the ways that attitudes and behaviors have changed as a result of the integration of network technologies in our everyday lives, I hoped to share some insight into how communities of fans are still essentially the same.

5. Vacation

Prior to two weeks of conferencing, presenting, networking and study in Melbourne, Bri and I spent 8 gloriously stress-free days in New Zealand exploring the north island. This was the first vacation outside the country we’ve had in the last five years, and was long overdue. From Hole in the Rock, to Hobbiton, to Wellywood, it was an experience I’m not likely to forget any time soon!

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