Thinking about the thing I just reblogged on tumblr discussion (public vs private) reminded me of a thought I’ve had before, that social interaction on tumblr reminds me in some ways of social interaction on early fanfiction.net, not so much in the way it happens but the overall culture of fan people hacking a system not really meant for communication/discussion into a social hangout spot.
Because early ff.net was definitely used that way. It wasn’t meant for it, but since it was one of the only places online where a lot of people from different fandoms congregated in the same place (and also one of the few places where people who were new to a particular fandom could find other like-minded fans) you had a lot of people using it that way. So you got an ongoing back-and-forth between comments and author’s notes; you had discussion in the comments, not specifically story-related but also, say, over an actor’s eye color or the finer points of characterization in a particular episode or whatever; you had authors soliciting input via comments, using their author’s notes to soapbox on the latest developments in canon, or posting chapters of long stories that were just commentary/reaction to reader input — blog posts, basically; you had stories designed along choose-your-own-adventure lines; you had people using their author’s notes to drive traffic/conversation to their website, blog, or mailing list elsewhere, and so forth.
The difference, I guess, is that whereas tumblr more or less ignores system hacks like xkit etc, ff.net actively discouraged this kind of extracurricular discussion, and eventually changes to the system and the rules made it next to impossible for people to go on doing a lot of what they used to do. And LJ got big around that time, so people decamped en masse for that because it was clearly superior to ffn for having conversations (though ffn hung onto a culture of long, chatty author’s notes for a really long time). But it’s just interesting to me because tumblr does remind me of it, a little bit, even though the overall culture and the kinds of discussion are different.