Different ways of enjoying fiction

In the realm of games, it is widely acknowledged that different people enjoy different aspects of games, and for different reasons. There are several theories that attempt to describe different kinds of fun or different player types. Marc LeBlanc has his theory of 8 kinds of fun: Sensation, Fantasy, Narrative, Challenge, Fellowship, Discovery, Expression, and Submission. Then there’s Bartle’s taxonomy, which classifies players of online multiplayer games into four types: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, or Killers. In Magic: The Gathering people commonly discuss Johnny, Timmy, and Spike, three archetypes of what people like about the game.

If we can recognize that different people enjoy different aspects of games, then we can also recognize that different people also enjoy different aspects of stories. This may seem like a trivial point, but one that we rarely think about directly.

I think the different ways of enjoying games are more obvious because they often result in different player behaviors, but the different ways of enjoying stories tend to be invisible.  Invisible… except in fandom. So, if you wanted to go looking for theories of how different people enjoy fiction for different reasons, I believe the place to look is in fandom. Unfortunately, I don’t actually involve myself in any fandoms, but I’m sure some of my readers do, so I’d be happy to hear from you.

For now, I’ll just toss a few preliminary ideas around.

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Link Roundup: July 2019

It’s time for my monthly link roundup.  Some of these, by the way, are taken directly from Skepchick’s newly returned Quickies feature.  The Skepchick team sure knows how to find the links.

The Unbearable Irrelevance of Contemporary Music (video) – So, I’m one of those extremely rare people with a marginal interest in contemporary classical music despite having no connection to the academic music world.  What can I say, I like avant-garde, drone, and xenharmonic music, and contemporary classical is one of the places you can find such things.  All the same, contemporary classical is the most frustrating genre.  We’re not just talking inaccessibility in terms of the music itself (although there’s that), but also recordings are literally inaccessible, and discovery mechanisms are absent.  Ask me in the comments and I’ll rant further.

In my humble opinion, as a former academic in a different field, this is a failure of the academic organizations.  I don’t really know how music departments operate, but they have clearly never placed enough value on outreach.

The war to free science – Holy shit, I hadn’t realized that the University of California system stopped paying for Elsevier access.  That’s a huge deal, Elsevier owned a large fraction of articles that I accessed in my own academic career.  Elsevier basically has a monopoly on a very inelastic good.  I looked into it and apparently academics can still access most Elsevier articles, they just can’t digitally access articles published in 2019.

Supreme Court Says Constitution Does Not Bar Partisan Gerrymandering (NYT) – Like the title says, The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of all partisan gerrymandering.  This is absurd, disenfranchisement on a massive scale.

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When we used to get street harassment

cn: anti-gay slurs and harassment

My husband and I have been together since 2011.  And it used to be that when we walked around in the streets and used public transit, we’d occasionally get harassing comments.  Someone would yell out “fags” from a passing car.  People would stare at us, and then make negative comments just as they were getting off the train or bus.  Homeless dudes would rant, and I’d come to the realization they were ranting about us.  One time a girl hugged us while her friend took a picture.  In one especially memorable incident, a middle-aged lady accused my husband of being my father.  These incidents would happen about once a month.

And then after about a year, it suddenly stopped.  I don’t know what changed.  At first it seemed like something must have changed about us.  Maybe we were walking in the street less often, or walking in different neighborhoods.  Maybe the visible age gap between us shrunk.  Maybe I was mentally blocking it out.  But in hindsight, it seems like what changed was the times.

Years after the harassment stopped, there was one final incident that happened around 2015.  Somebody called my husband a faggot, and then swung a bag at his head.  My husband was shaken, and a police report was filed, but nobody was hurt.  And that was the end of it.

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“Cat Person or Dog Person?” survey explained

Picture of a cat with sciencey stuff. "Survey says 75% are cat people ... and 25% are wrong"

Several weeks ago, I published the “Cat Person or Dog Person?” survey.  It’s a silly survey that asks the same question over and over again in different ways, and then you see the results.  It’s basically an interactive art piece, and your interpretation of it is as valid as mine.

Now that several weeks have passed, I’m going to explain some of the thought process behind the survey.  This should be thought of as “explaining the joke”–the survey was funny, this explanation will not particularly (cat meme excepted).

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Origami: Octopus 2

Octopus, by Sipho Mabona.

Back in 2016, I made an octopus and posted it here on A Trivial Knot.  Now I’m showing my second attempt, which was made two years later.  With more experience, I was able to make a more elegant octopus, while also using foil paper (which is generally harder to work with).  I was quite satisfied.

Although… if I want to pander to a certain someone maybe I ought to switch to spiders.

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The economic theory of rainbow logos

Let’s talk about these rainbow logos that big companies tend to adopt during Pride month.

Rainbow versions of 15 corporate logos

Source: Buzzfeed

Many people have described rainbow logos as an example of “virtue signalling”.  “Virtue signalling” is a buzzphrase among pundits and internet commentators, used to mean “lip service” or “empty gestures”.

And this is so frustrating, because “virtue signalling” is a legitimate economic concept that legitimately applies to the situation.  But virtue signalling does not mean what people think it means.  What virtue signalling actually refers to is good.  And if people understood virtue signalling correctly then it would provide a useful tool to distinguish gestures that are meaningful, and gestures that are empty.

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The incoherence of race and ethnicity

As I’ve mentioned many times, I hold a lead position on The Ace Community Survey. One of the things we track, is ethnicity/race. Many years of dealing with that nightmare of a section has greatly impressed upon me the complexity and ambiguity of the concepts.

One of the big complications is, we’re an international survey. Well, the survey is in English and recruits from English-speaking online communities, so it tends to be biased towards predominantly White countries and the US in particular. But you know what they say about race being a social construct? The primary consequence is that different cultures have constructed race in different ways. The secondary consequence is that even within a single country there are multiple interacting constructions of race. There’s basically no neutral way to ask about race, nor analyze the results.

So I’m going to talk about the ins and outs of race, drawing upon my experiences with our international (but US-dominated) survey.

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