The Lost Librarians of National Defense?

Information Week has an interesting article up about Lost fandom. It talks about Second Life recreations of Lost spaces, ABC’s official sites, and Lostpedia, the wikipedia for Lost fans:

The Lostpedia statistics page shows that the site has grown to nearly 33,000 pages. The site has received 141 million page views. It has 26,000 registered users, of whom 10 have sysop rights, for increased authority to edit and manage the site.

I talk a bit about fan-authored wikipedia entries and archives in my work about Swedish indie music fandom, but generally this is a neglected area of fandom research. Although, as some apparently realize, it’s a phenomenon with implications that stretch far beyond entertainment:

[Lostpedia founder] Croy said the site has brought him professional benefit in that it’s connected him with many interesting people. The Palo Alto Research Center (formerly Xerox (NYSE: XRX) PARC) contacted him about two years ago to study Lostpedia. “Basically, they wanted to study the way that a group of users collects intelligence, brings it back to a central place, and processes that intelligence, categorizes it and analyzes it and decides what’s good and bad.” PARC looks at each new episode as a big new batch of intelligence dumped on the Lostpedia community. “They want to see how they can apply that to the national defense projects they’re working on,” Croy said.

Fans have at least as much history as anyone — and probably more history than most — at using the internet in innovative ways to collect, label, store and make accessible enormous repositories of information. I’ve spoken recently with music librarians interested in using fan-generated genre tags (like on to assist them in categorizing their library’s music catalogs. Fandoms offer fantastic case studies in the practice of information science. I’d love to see more about this.

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