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A question about a claim in _Tolkien on Film_

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    I m reading _Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson s The Lord of the Rings_ at the moment. In Susan Booker s essay Tales around the Internet ... revealed
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 30, 2006
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      I'm reading _Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the
      Rings_ at the moment. In Susan Booker's essay "Tales around the Internet
      Campfire: Fan Fiction in Tolkien's Universe", she makes the following statement:

      > At the time this essay was completed in early 2004, a quick Google search
      revealed . . .
      > _Lord of the Rings_ fan fiction, 354,000 [websites] . . .

      She makes various similar claims throughout the article. O.K., how can
      someone use Google to find the total number of websites containing any particular
      genre of writing? She could be just putting the words "Tolkien" and "fan
      fiction" (or maybe "fanfiction") into Google and giving the number of websites
      that it reports contain these words. Indeed, if I put "Tolkien" and "fan
      fiction" into Google today, it tells me that it finds 586,000 websites. It
      would be reasonable to think that in early 2004 it might tell us that it found
      354,000 websites. (Note the rounding to the nearest thousand in each case.)
      Of course, this doesn't mean at all that most of these websites are Tolkien
      fan fiction. Most of them just happen to mention the words "Tolkien" and "fan
      fiction". I don't know of any automatic way to find websites of a particular
      genre without picking up a lot of them that only mention the genre.

      In the next article in the book "Make Mine "Movieverse": How the Tolkien Fan
      Fiction Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Peter Jackson" by Amy
      Sturgis, Sturgis makes smaller and better researched claims. She talks about
      how many stories there are on specific websites. She doesn't make any claims
      about the overall numbers but only tries to distinguish between the various
      sorts of fan fiction.

      Wendell Wagner


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • John D Rateliff
      A friend sent me this on Thursday. http://members.comics.com/members/common/ affiliateArchive.do;jsessionid=cevooEDILjGh?
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 30, 2006
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        A friend sent me this on Thursday.

        http://members.comics.com/members/common/
        affiliateArchive.do;jsessionid=cevooEDILjGh?
        site=seattle&comic=brevity&stripId=264399

        I think it's made all the funnier by the fact that there is a book on
        costume jewelry by a Tolkien (Tracy Tolkien, who's married to JRRT's
        youngest grandson); I wonder if that fact somehow contributed to the
        concept.

        Enjoy

        --JDR

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Croft, Janet B.
        I recall hearing Susan s figures questioned when she presented part of her paper at a Pop Culture conference, and she recreated her search strategy for us, but
        Message 3 of 7 , May 1, 2006
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          I recall hearing Susan's figures questioned when she presented part of
          her paper at a Pop Culture conference, and she recreated her search
          strategy for us, but I don't remember exactly what she said. I think the
          figures in her final paper were actually revised downward in light of
          that discussion. Obviously, you aren't the first to question her
          figures, and her paper would have been stronger, in retrospect, if I had
          asked her to describe her search strategy rather than simply accepting
          what she said. She was at the time an academic librarian, so I probably
          trusted too much that her strategy was sound (however, she recently quit
          her job shortly before her tenure review came up -- not a good sign). I
          would agree that Amy is a far more careful and trustworthy scholar. Her
          article in the current Mythlore on Rosie Cotton fan fiction is equally
          well done (though, mea culpa, there is a typo I didn't catch before it
          went to print -- sorry, Joan!).


          Janet Brennan Croft


          -----Original Message-----
          From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
          Of WendellWag@...
          Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 11:53 AM
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [mythsoc] A question about a claim in _Tolkien on Film_

          I'm reading _Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the
          Rings_ at the moment. In Susan Booker's essay "Tales around the
          Internet
          Campfire: Fan Fiction in Tolkien's Universe", she makes the following
          statement:

          > At the time this essay was completed in early 2004, a quick Google
          > search
          revealed . . .
          > _Lord of the Rings_ fan fiction, 354,000 [websites] . . .

          She makes various similar claims throughout the article. O.K., how can
          someone use Google to find the total number of websites containing any
          particular genre of writing? She could be just putting the words
          "Tolkien" and "fan fiction" (or maybe "fanfiction") into Google and
          giving the number of websites that it reports contain these words.
          Indeed, if I put "Tolkien" and "fan fiction" into Google today, it
          tells me that it finds 586,000 websites. It would be reasonable to
          think that in early 2004 it might tell us that it found 354,000
          websites. (Note the rounding to the nearest thousand in each case.) Of
          course, this doesn't mean at all that most of these websites are
          Tolkien fan fiction. Most of them just happen to mention the words
          "Tolkien" and "fan fiction". I don't know of any automatic way to find
          websites of a particular genre without picking up a lot of them that
          only mention the genre.

          In the next article in the book "Make Mine "Movieverse": How the Tolkien
          Fan Fiction Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Peter Jackson"
          by Amy Sturgis, Sturgis makes smaller and better researched claims. She
          talks about how many stories there are on specific websites. She
          doesn't make any claims about the overall numbers but only tries to
          distinguish between the various sorts of fan fiction.

          Wendell Wagner


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



          The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org Yahoo! Groups
          Links
        • Stolzi
          ... From: John D Rateliff To: Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 11:32 PM Subject: [mythsoc] a Tolkien cartoon
          Message 4 of 7 , May 1, 2006
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "John D Rateliff" <sacnoth@...>
            To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 11:32 PM
            Subject: [mythsoc] a Tolkien cartoon


            >A friend sent me this on Thursday.
            >
            > http://members.comics.com/members/common/
            > affiliateArchive.do;jsessionid=cevooEDILjGh?
            > site=seattle&comic=brevity&stripId=264399

            May be easier:

            http://tinyurl.com/oy5a2
          • Michael Martinez
            ... Technically, Google is only reporting pages , not sites . A site may have thousands of pages. A page may be all there is to a site. Furthermore, Google
            Message 5 of 7 , May 3, 2006
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              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, WendellWag@... wrote:
              >
              > I'm reading _Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord
              > of the Rings_ at the moment. In Susan Booker's essay "Tales
              > around the Internet Campfire: Fan Fiction in Tolkien's Universe",
              > she makes the following statement:
              >
              > > At the time this essay was completed in early 2004, a quick
              > > Google search revealed . . . _Lord of the Rings_ fan fiction,
              > > 354,000 [websites] . . .
              >
              > She makes various similar claims throughout the article. O.K.,
              > how can someone use Google to find the total number of websites
              > containing any particular genre of writing? She could be just
              > putting the words "Tolkien" and "fan fiction" (or
              > maybe "fanfiction") into Google and giving the number of websites
              > that it reports contain these words. Indeed, if I put "Tolkien"
              > and "fan fiction" into Google today, it tells me that it finds
              > 586,000 websites. It would be reasonable to think that in early
              > 2004 it might tell us that it found 354,000 websites. (Note the
              > rounding to the nearest thousand in each case.)
              >
              > Of course, this doesn't mean at all that most of these websites
              > are Tolkien fan fiction. Most of them just happen to mention the
              > words "Tolkien" and "fan fiction". I don't know of any automatic
              > way to find websites of a particular genre without picking up a
              > lot of them that only mention the genre.

              Technically, Google is only reporting "pages", not "sites". A site
              may have thousands of pages. A page may be all there is to a site.

              Furthermore, Google will include in those results any pages that
              have links pointing to them which contain one or more of the
              words "tolkien", "fan", "fiction", "fanfiction" in the anchor text.

              She could have narrowed the search by forcing an EXACT FIND search
              by putting quotes around the text. I get about 1700 hits today when
              I do that, but who knows how many of those pages actually just
              mention "tolkien fan fiction"? I get about 562 hits for "middle-
              earth fan fiction" and 10,400 hits for "lord of the rings fan
              fiction".

              But Google does not index the entire Web. There is probably far
              more out there that Google hasn't found (as well as stuff it has
              crawled but not added to the visible index).

              > In the next article in the book "Make Mine "Movieverse": How the
              > Tolkien Fan Fiction Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love
              > Peter Jackson" by Amy Sturgis, Sturgis makes smaller and better
              > researched claims. She talks about how many stories there are on
              > specific websites. She doesn't make any claims about the overall
              > numbers but only tries to distinguish between the various sorts of
              > fan fiction.

              It would, actually, be possible to compile a fairly extensive list
              of sites which host Tolkien fan fiction. I believe you would indeed
              find thousands of stories out there. The 2005 MEFA Awards
              (http://gabrielle.sytes.net/MEFA2005/) had, if I recall correctly,
              several hundred submissions. Some of them were non-fiction (one of
              my readers actually nominated a fair selection of my own essays, but
              most were disallowed because I was paid to write them). But the
              project promotes fan fiction primarily.

              It may never be possible to search for all Tolkien-inspired fan
              fiction, as many people will use words we wouldn't necessarily think
              of as the most important descriptors for their stories.

              --
              Michael Martinez
              http://www.michael-martinez.com/
              http://michael-martinez.blogspot.com/
              "Cuando Maria canta, ella canta para mí"
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              In a message dated 5/3/2006 7:32:38 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, Michaelm@xenite.org writes: It would, actually, be possible to compile a fairly extensive list
              Message 6 of 7 , May 3, 2006
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                In a message dated 5/3/2006 7:32:38 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                Michaelm@... writes:

                It would, actually, be possible to compile a fairly extensive list
                of sites which host Tolkien fan fiction. I believe you would indeed
                find thousands of stories out there.


                I wasn't questioning that there are thousands of such stories out there.
                Indeed, in Amy Sturgis's paper, she mentions several specific websites which
                include a count of how many such stories they include, and the total of these
                websites is already well into the thousands. The only thing I was questioning
                is whether it's possible to use Google to find anything like a reasonable
                count of them, and for reasons that I gave and further reasons that you have
                given, it's not useful for that purpose.

                Wendell Wagner


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Jay Hershberger
                Dear Mythsoc-ers, I have an old question to pose. Can any of you point me toward credible and reflective articles that: 1) charge Tolkien and his fiction with
                Message 7 of 7 , May 4, 2006
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                  Dear Mythsoc-ers,

                  I have an old question to pose. Can any of you point me toward credible
                  and reflective articles that: 1) charge Tolkien and his fiction with
                  racism, and
                  2) defend Tolkien and his fiction from that charge?

                  I am in the process of preparing a class on Tolkien for first-semester
                  freshmen that would serve as an introductory course on the liberal arts.
                  Although I am music professor-I teach piano-I am also interested in
                  teaching outside of my discipline as a means of making connections with
                  other facets of the liberal arts tradition. While I have my own opinion
                  on the subject of Tolkien and race (he was not a racist, nor is his
                  fiction guilty of perpetuating it), I would like to be able to present
                  to students thoughtful and informed arguments on both sides of the
                  issue, and perhaps learn a little more about the literature on this
                  particular topic for purposes of potential research essays for students.
                  Any thoughts?

                  Thanks for your time.

                  Cheers,

                  Jay Hershberger, DMA
                  Associate Professor of Piano
                  Concordia College (ELCA)
                  Moorhead, MN




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