Sub*culture: Exploring the dynamics of a networked public

  • Simon Lindgren Department of Sociology Umeå University, Sweden
Keywords: Fan community, Fansub, Fan sub, Quentin Jones, Piracy


The sub scene, an online community for creating and distributing subtitle files for pirated movies and TV series, is a culture wherein the knowledge of a number of contributors is pooled. I describe the cultural and social protocols that shape the sub scene, with a focus on the linguistic and social exchange that characterizes this particular networked public. Analysis of the linguistic exchange shows that the sub scene is about networked collaboration, but one under a relatively strict social code. The analysis of the social exchange is structured according to Quentin Jones's definition of a virtual settlement. There is a minimum level of interactivity, as well as a variety of communicators, on the sub scene. It can also be described as a virtual common public place where computer-mediated interaction takes place, both in the form of coordination networks and of expert/user networks. Furthermore, it has a minimum level of sustained membership. The culture of the sub scene simultaneously bears characteristics of socialized and alienated cyberculture, which should not be perceived as a contradiction. The development of Internet culture is always happening within the full complexity of society as a whole, and the interplay between unity and discord must be seen as the basis for the social integration of any group.