It has been argued that fans make explicit what everyone else does implicitly (Booth 2010). That is, fans interpret the world around them, communicate these meanings with others, and produce their own meanings based on those parts of the world that they like most (Fiske 1989). While all of us do this to various degrees, fans do so consciously, openly, and overtly (Sandvoss 2005). Also, fans actively appropriate the objects of culture in this process and rework them to further their interests in what has been referred to as a form of participatory culture (Jenkins 2006a). Fans do not merely consume culture; they creatively (re)produce culture, thus contributing directly to societal discourse. While some fan scholars have emphasized fan practices as a form of rebellion (e.g., Lewis 1992; Jenson 1992; Jenkins 1992b), others point out that this is a deeply affective process, even for anti-fans (Grossberg 1992; Johnson 2007; Sandvoss 2005). For most, being a fan is ultimately a form of hedonic experience (Hirschman and Holbrook 1982). Even though many fans devote a considerable amount of time, effort, and energy into their respective fandoms, it is usually a labor of love (Smith et al. 2007). Nowhere is the rebellious, affective, and creative nature of fans more prevalent than in the

digital realm. Fan activities and practices have exploded with the digital revolution (Negroponte 1995). Digital technology, including the Internet, has vastly increased the tools and spaces for fan creation, as well as the amount of information available to fans and its means of its distribution. In addition, fans tend to be early adopters of technology and have been quick to transition to and utilize digital media (Coppa 2006). For example, fans created Usenet newsgroups, set up BBS and Listserv forums, and established archives of fan-based creations almost as quickly as those tools appeared. Fans now utilize blogs, wikis, and social networking sites to engage in various forms of fan practices, including music/movie creation, online video gaming, and fantasy football (Jenkins 2006b; Kozinets 2007; Pearson 2010). One thing that makes digital fandom difficult to study is that digital technology functions

simultaneously as a tool (e.g., Microsoft Word), an object (e.g., Fan Fiction), and a medium

(e.g., www.fanfiction.net) (Stein 2006). Fans produce, distribute, consume, and interact all within the same digital space. In addition, while this technology provides increasing access to fandom, in a sense making it more mainstream and real, it has also made it more virtual. Not only have the objects of fandoms been digitized, but the fans themselves have become virtual beings in this digital landscape (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth 2010). This shift, while seemingly innocuous, has led to deeper changes in the ontological and epistemological conditions of fandom. As fandom has become more mediated, fan practices and the broader socio-cultural structures in which they operate have become more remediated (i.e., the distinctions between practices break down), which in turn has caused them to become and more demediated (i.e., these transformed practices become the new real). As ardent Star Trek fans, the authors are still amazed at Gene Roddenberry’s foresight that replication of every aspect of life, including ourselves, would change the very nature of existence. Perhaps we are not quite at that stage, but recent advances in the digital realm and their creative utilization by fans suggest that it is important to examine and understand the current state of affairs of digital fandom and its broader implications.