let's get the seven lines.
Hi! I'm Aja; I write for The Daily Dot about my corner of the web, namely, fandom and fandom culture. If you'd like to contact me about a media or press event, please email aja at thedailydot.com. Thank you!

Other places you can find me:
The DotDreamwidthpinboardtumblr@mmmarthur@ajaromanoThe Mary SueFanbatte!

This journal's been through lots of changes over the years, but I hope you guys will always feel welcome here! Feel free to say hi, friend/defriend, just lurk, or drop by to hang out at any time! :)
let's get the seven lines.
28 October 2012 @ 02:32 pm
So tomorrow is a HUGE DAY for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries fandom. There definitely is one, and it's actually one of the most delightful fandoms I've come across in a while, even if my interaction with it has been almost totally in YouTube comments and on Tumblr.

In case you missed my earlier flailing, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in vlog format. Lizzie keeps a vlog about her day-to-day adventures, and all the crazy cast of people who come in and out of her life. It. Is. Fabulous. Caroline tries to win fans from Lizzie's vlog audience by gifting us her cast-off designer handbags (no seriously). WICKHAM WEARS GUYLINER. PERFECT SHOW. IS. PERFECT.


The vlog updates twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Each ep runs anywhere from 3-7 minutes on average, and each ep covers one full chapter of Pride and Prejudice. Although P&P can feel like a short book, it's really not, and at 63 chapters in, we're only FINALLY getting to one of the main plot points of the book:

the proposal.

There are so many amazing things about the way the LBD is happening. The Jane Austen fandom was my very first fandom, and one of only 2 that I consider a lifelong fandom, along with HP. But the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, because it's happening on YouTube, is revitalizing the Austen fandom in a way that I really honestly thought could not happen, because let's face it, there are 8 zillion P&P remakes out there already, right?


Because it's happening on YouTube, there are lots of fans who a) have never read the book, and even fewer, a handful of fans who b) still haven't figured out that the show isn't actually real. So, in any given episode, you have a bunch of things going on:
- people confusedly wondering why the people on Lizzie's vlog are acting like characters out of a book, because they don't realize that they ARE characters
- people who know what's up but haven't read the book begging other people not to spoil them for what happens, which generally leads to
- lots of other people amusedly trolling them with fake spoilers ("WAIT TIL LYDIA GETS PREGNANT!"), etc etc.

So that's all good times. But even more than that, people like me who know the book backwards and forwards, who've read it a million times, are basically freaking out on a regular basis because everything about this story is enhanced by having it done in Vlog format. We vet to spend more time with the characters, side characters who are deliberate caricatures in Austen's world become fleshed out and even more sympathetic, and the relationships that we see on-screen deepen. We invest in them even more, so that when the plot twists of Austen's novel happen, they hit us in totally new ways. (Not even going near the show giving us Jane's reaction to Bing leaving, because OH MY GOD SO MANY TEARS.)

Take Lizzie and Charlotte. Charlotte Lucas--or Charlotte Lu as she's named in the LBD--is so much more than just a side character. She has her own voice, we watch her argue and fight with Lizzie, we watch her impacting the whole style of the show, and we see her away from Lizzie trying to be her own person while still desperately missing her best friend. The weeks that they were apart in the series really felt strained as they unfolded in real time in a way that never happens in any other Austen adaptation or fanfic, because we got to really feel her absence episode after episode. When the episode that brought the two of them back together finally happened, I HONEST-TO-GOD SHRIEKED ALOUD IN GLEE, because even though I know that they remain friends, the emotional catharsis of watching them make up after their long fight and separation hit me as hard as any new story that I'm watching would have hit.

That's why it's absolutely one of the highlights of my week right now to peruse the comments on YouTube for this show. Like, this is one time where I would urge you DEFINITELY READ THE COMMENTS because apart from being very polite and happy--everyone loves all of the characters, which is just so nice oh my god--the comments really submerge you in the amazing cultural convergence that is happening around this show.

Everyone who knows the book knows that Monday is Proposal Day, and the fandom has been FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT. Which is exciting all by itself because the LBD still hasn't shown us Darcy yet, and every episode we get brings us closer to the Big Reveal omfg.

But the people who have NO IDEA what's happening next because they're watching the story for the first time?--THEY'RE ALSO FREAKING OUT. They're all, HOLY SHIT WHAT DARCY NO, NO WAY! and OH MY GOD LIZZIE, and WTF IS GOING TO HAPPEN NOW, and DARCY YOU ASSHOLE, and it's so fucking incredible, haha.

Like, just to be a lifelong Jane Austen fan is to know that you're one of Those Women who dreams of a Darcy figure to whisk you away to Regency England, right, and you get lumped in with this kind of fuddy-duddy culture of cat-owning book club members who own all of the Austen films and have three copies of the 1995 BBC P&P because their VHS tapes wore out and then 2 people gave them the DVDs for christmas *cough*.

So there's this real joy for me in watching other people discover this story as it's happening. This is in part a tribute to the excellent writers of the LBD, but also, ultimately, to Austen, and to the power of a universally beloved story. When I hosted the Daily Dot's Transmedia Round Table recently, Bernie Su, the LBD's co-producer and head writer, said that the LBD considers P&P to be "our greatest weapon." And it's so true, because you can literally see people who started watching randomly, or maybe because of the Hank Green connection (he's the other producer) moving from casual interest to total obsession based on the power of the story, and getting so caught up in the plot and the characters in real time.

It's MAGICAL, YOU GUYS. it's making me SO UNBELIEVABLY HAPPY. Like, these are all actual comments on the most recent eps, and I'm just totally rolling around in them like watching this show is some kind of brand-new spectator sport.

I have no idea what's going to happen on Monday. My personal theory is that Darcy's going to ask Lizzie out via text or something equally awkward and Lizzie's reaction will occur onscreen while she reads his texts to us with increasing indignation. BUT no matter what, I just wanted to commemorate this, because 199 years after Pride and Prejudice was published, tens of thousands of people in the Jane Austen fandom are literally on the edge of our seats waiting for Darcy's proposal, like we've never seen it before. Because amazing tales, being retold in amazing new ways, not only gain new audiences, but gain new emotional resonances in the telling.

That's the power of story, and the power of transformative fanfiction.


let's get the seven lines.

Exclusive: LiveJournal all but abandons U.S. presence 
Staff Writer

 LiveJournal U.S. has quietly downsized over the past few months, leaving the Internet’s oldest blogging platform almost entirely under Russian management.

When the Daily Dot visited LiveJournal’s San Francisco headquarters in February 2012, the company had about 10 U.S. employees.

Since then, five employees—including U.S. General Manager Anjelika Petrochenko—have left the company. LiveJournal has not announced Petrochenko’s departure in any statement or release, but Petrochenko confirmed her own departure to the Daily Dot.

Ekaterina Pahomchik, a LiveJournal spokesperson based in Moscow, told the Daily Dot Petrochenko and the other departed employees will not be replaced.

“All of LiveJournal’s business operations nowadays are handled out of the SUP Media offices in Moscow centrally,” she said.

“Our representatives from Russia will be responsible for all product, marketing, business development etc. projects for the U.S. segment.”

SUP Media is LiveJournal’s Russian parent company, whichbought the blogging platform from Six Apart in 2007. SUP is the third company to take ownership of LiveJournal, after Six Apart and Danga Interactive, the company LiveJournal inventor Brad Fitzpatrick managed.

However, Pahomchik said that U.S. LiveJournal users should not notice a difference. The Russian office will continue the projects, like LJ Media, the U.S. office worked on.

“LiveJournal and SUP Media are keen on continuing the LJ Media initiative to keep up with the results which have been achieved so far, and this is the new strategy of LiveJournal global development,” she said.

Aside from day to day maintenance, the U.S. office was also responsible for LJ Media, a redesign and promotion initiative for LiveJournal’s most popular communities like Oh No They Didn’t!,VaginaPagina, and CraftGrrl.

Brenden Delzer, the moderator of Oh No They Didn’t! and a LiveJournal employee who continues to work in the San Francisco office, told the Daily Dot that LJ Media moderators have already been informed about the change in overhead.

“Leadership of the LJ Media program has been transferred to our main office in Russia & every LJ Media community leader received an email from Anjelika with these details,” he said.

Though the staff website lists employees like Anjelika Petrochenko as current staff members, Delzer confirmed that they were no longer with the company.

The Daily Dot has confirmed that LiveJournal employees Tom Byron, Jen Kim, Sasha Rojas, and Michael Rutledge have also left this year. Though SUP Media does not plan to replace them, it has not announced their departures either, leaving us to wonder who else listed on the website has already left.

Aja Romano contributed to this report.

The Daily Dot

let's get the seven lines.
06 September 2012 @ 09:13 am
Hi, LJ/DW!

At long last our exploration of Livejournal's post-Brad timeline has been published. It spans 5 years and includes interviews with Livejournal's US General Manager, Anjelika Petrochenko, and the head of Russian LJ, Ilya Dronov.

I encourage you, even if you've already severed ties with LJ, as I know many of you have, to check out the timeline in the article, if nothing else, because a) it's cool and timeline-y, and b) it's exhaustively researched and puts a lot of things together in a way that I think is really interesting and compelling. No matter which side of fandom you're currently in, we've all been affected by some of the things explored in this article.

In a 2010 New York Review of Books essay on the Facebook generation, Zadie Smith wrote, “At my screening [of The Social Network], when a character in the film mentioned the early blog platform LiveJournal (still popular in Russia), the audience laughed.” She went on to dub the site “comically obsolete.”

Once universally praised for founder Brad Fitzpatrick’s open-source platform and commitment to a free userbase—he once vowed that LiveJournal would always have basic (non-paying or ad-supported) accounts—LiveJournal is known these days mostly for being popular in Russia (the Russian name for blogging is “LJ.”) and Singapore, and for housing gossip blog Oh No They Didn’t.

What happened?

- The demise of a social media platform: Tracking LiveJournal's decline
The Daily Dot has a great relationship with Livejournal, and I want to be emphatically clear that the LJ staff were all extremely helpful and generous with their time and info when I told them I was writing this article. They are very kind and I enjoyed talking to them, and I do believe they want good things for LJ.

But I also felt that it was very important to document the other side of that story--the perspective of the userbase, which I think most people I know feel has dwindled over the last 5 years. I encourage you to think critically and be objective, but most of all just to read the article, because it documents issues that have impacted a lot of people.

It's obviously impossible to achieve total objectivity regarding a subject that I am incredibly close to, as I undeniably am in this instance; but I think the DD staff pulled me in the right direction and the L J staff was fantastic, and I think this is a well-balanced article that gives you a sense of where LJ has come, and what's in store for all of us as users.

tl;dr please read! thank you! :D

(In b4 every shirt-burning joke ever.)
let's get the seven lines.
14 August 2012 @ 09:51 am
Hi, LJ / DW / Tumblr!

I have posted my writeup of LeakyCon for the Daily Dot!!!

The Evolution of Harry Potter fandom

I just want to say that I'm so full of EMOTIONS because. this is HP fandom, this is the fandom that very literally changed my life in many, many ways, both in crappy ways and insanely great ways. This is the fandom I will be in til I die. This is the fandom of my heart, this is the fandom that put me on the path to where I am now, ten years later, doing journalism on Harry Potter fandom.

So if you haven't read any of my writing for the Dot yet, please read this article, because so many of you are in this fandom with me, and I know that you will read it and feel, along with me, all the things I felt while writing it.

I love you guys, I love all of fandom always (even when i hate it!), and I am so happy to be on this journey with you.

    “There will never be anything like the Harry Potter fandom,” John Green tells the massive audience at the Vlogbrothers panel. “You had to have the right people, the right music, and the right stories. But we don’t need to have anything else, because we have this.”

read more at the Daily Dot
let's get the seven lines.
12 August 2012 @ 08:26 pm
I am back from LeakyCon! I got to stay with my wonderful friend Cathy / two_if_by_sea and I got to say hi to Chicago, and I got to hang out with flourish and brimtoast and franzeska and more at LC and then later at Vividcon, where awesome folks were kind enough to let me crash hotel rooms and nose around doing interviews!

I also got to watch the Green brothers swordfight and meet the cast and director of THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES, OMG! They were so nice and so surprised by the support fans showed them, and it was just really lovely :D :D :D

Look! it's Lizzie and Charlotte! I mean Ashley and Julia! I mean OMG I GOT TO MEET THE CAST OF THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES! :D

I was continually reminded over the weekend what a great group of people Harry Potter fans are. The con attendees and the LeakyCon staff were all so gracious to me when I pestered them for interviews and made a general nuisance of myself. I'm very happy that I went, even though I got really sick and am thus currently imbibing something like my 80th hot tea of the weekend.

Plus, I got a hug from Mark Oshiro of Mark Reads Harry Potter, which is legit the primary reason I went. :D SUCCESS!

Bonus: check out the hottie Cathy and I saw on the streets of Chicago Sat. night:

let's get the seven lines.
03 August 2012 @ 11:54 am
Hey, you guys!

I know this is totally last minute but is anyone going to LeakyCon next week! I just snagged a press pass! (Yes, this means I might get to interview John and Hank Green and StarKid and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Maureen Johnson, yes :D)

I can stay with friends if needed, but just in case, I thought I'd poke my nose about and see if anyone had a spare couch for the occasion! :)

Also, coming up at the end of August: Dragon*Con! Who's planning on being there? :D
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let's get the seven lines.
First off -- Livejournal, I love you, I am back. I am back and I have a WHOLE NEW DEFAULT ICON! because nothing says THINGS HAVE CHANGED like changing your default LJ icon, I don't care how much time has passed.

I am back because I am now, amazingly enough, working for a fantastic online news source that has asked me to ferret out stories about the things you all are doing. They require me to be actively engaged in the community I'm reporting on. And I can't be actively, effectively engaged in fandom if I'm not (somehow, don't ask me how this will work) actively, effectively engaged on Twitter/Tumblr/Dreamwidth/AO3/ff.net and Livejournal. Of course Livejournal.

So, remember last year when I took a 7-month LJ hiatus and then came back? Let's just pretend that's what happened here. :)

The circumstances that led to my needing to lock much of my content have not gone away, either. For those of you who wondered why it all had to be locked, the answer is that I got a fantastic job teaching music at the beginning of the year, <3 and there are rules about teachers in fandom. I have abided by those rules diligently for both periods of my life when I've been a teacher. But although I'm still teaching, now that I am literally professionally writing about fandom, that horse is out of the barn, and I'm okay with that. So if you want me to unlock things, just ask. I may not say yes to everything, but I probably will. Much of my fic is posted over at AO3, and some of my main posts have been archived at architect.

I am also writing a new column over at Manga Bookshelf, Fanbatte! and I will still write for the Mary Sue, but my publisher gets first dibs on everything, including my time.


Tumblr, I have such a love/hate relationship with you.

Here is an illustration that encompasses what I hate about Tumblr.

2 years ago, when I wrote a self-indulgent missive about our Mr Eames on Livejournal, this is what happened. Discussion happened. Squee happened! Debate happened. Loads of fanfic happened. And then even more discussion happened!

Here is what happened when I wrote a self-indulgent missive about our Mr Eames on Tumblr two days ago.
Literally 400 reblogs, all without comment, roughly 15 reblogs with versions of comments that amounted to "I HAVE FEELINGS!" and literally 3 people who actually wanted to reply substantively with thoughts about meta.

The other day, cherrybina said, very eloquently, to me:
You and I have discussed this before, but what I loved the most about Inception fandom was how it exploded in this flurry of energy, and people were making art based on fic that inspired more art, and entire verses grew out of massive comment threads, and there were memes and fests with thousands of comments, and all of the energy and interaction just kept inspiring more. More people, more squee, more fanworks - more of everything. That's what I love the most about fandom in general - that shared energy, and Inception was basically an entire fandom illustrating what that kind of energy can do. If Inception came out this year instead of 2010, that wouldn't have happened. It couldn't have, because the kind of interaction that created it is impossible on twitter and tumblr.

jlh also recently said to me that Tumblr gives voice to the lurkers. And I love that, because I have always loved lurkers and tried to make my LJ/DW a safe space to, uh, lurk and still have fun! And I also love that I can go to Tumblr and not have to say things, that I can just reblog and be done with it. I love, too, that my dash is visually diverse and progressive and a constant reminder that the world is not just for white people.

But I miss that discussion and I miss that interaction, and god knows I miss Inception fandom. Are we still here? Do we still have thinky things to say?

Or is my tumblr future just an endless round of a) gav and I trading insults and b) Ifrit and I having endless long-winded discussions that inevitably end in the two of us shrieking "STOP BEING MAUDLIN!" "STOP HATING EVERYTHING!" "NO!" "NO U!" at each other ad nauseum?