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Collective Intelligence In Action: A Case Study Of An Italian Fansubbing Community
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Collective Intelligence In Action: A Case Study Of An Italian Fansubbing Community


he purpose of this paper is to analyze the relational dynamics and the organizational practices of one of the most important Italian Fansubbing Communities: ItalianSubsAddicted. …

he purpose of this paper is to analyze the relational dynamics and the organizational practices of one of the most important Italian Fansubbing Communities: ItalianSubsAddicted.
The research adopts a Case Study Methodology based on a Mixed Method approach, that is combining qualitative and quantitative techniques in data collection and analysis. Specifically, analysis was conducted through content analysis of official documents about the Community, in-depth interviews to 15 Community members, netnography for the analysis of the Community forum. Despite its voluntary and non-profit nature, the Community relies on a well-defined organization chart, where each individual is allocated with specific tasks, roles and responsibilities. This structure is effective for the Community and it is also supported by a strict initial selection and specific assessments regulating the transition from one level to another in the hierarchy. However, the binding force of the Community is the passion. In fact, data analysis puts in evidence the centrality of passion: the members of the Community, named fansubbers, work very hard and they are sustained by their great passions towards TV-Series, films, and media products in general. They love so much media products that they want all the other people to be allowed to know and enjoy them in the best possible way. In fact, one of the most important fansubbers’goal is to preserve the media product in its original form, avoiding the cross-cultural contamination biases which often occur with the official dubbing. Furthermore, fansubbers like the idea of being part of a “real” virtual Community, i.e. a group which interacts also outside the cyber space as well. Fansubbing is not only a social activity: it develops an in-depth knowledge of foreign language and culture (mainly, the Anglo Saxon one), and it favors the development of interpersonal skills, like collaborative problem solving and conflict management skills. In conclusion, Fansubbing could be considered one of the best example of collective intelligence in practice, but also an effective field of professionalization and skills acquisition; in fact, data results show also that Fansubbing make the Community members to be more competitive on the labor market

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  • 1. COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE IN ACTIONA CASE STUDY OF AN ITALIANFANSUBBING COMMUNITYUniversità degli Studi di Salerno, Salerno, ItalyDipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Sociali e della ComunicazioneFelice AddeoAssistant Professor - ResearcherUniversità degli Studi di Salerno, Salerno, Italy,faddeo@unisa.itMaria EspositoPhD StudentUniversità degli Studi di Salerno, Salerno, Italy,
  • 2. INTRODUCTION According to the Convergence Culture paradigm (Jenkins, 2006),nowadays participatory cultures are spreading. They are voluntary andtemporary forms of aggregation, based on knowledge exchange andcollaborative problem solving between people. They are the result of the dynamics of collective intelligence:a shared intelligence that arises from the cooperation betweenmany people (Levy, 1996) Contemporary Television Series are prime example of participatory andcollective dynamics, as they are a type of audiovisual product which triesto establish a direct and strict connection between the product and itsaudience (Innocenti, Maestri, 2010).
  • 3. INTRODUCTION In the American television, especially from Nineties, a lot of TV-seriesbecame real objects of worship for fans: for this reason, in MediaStudies they are referred as cult-series (Hills, 2002). Cult series encourage the foundation of fan Communities, whosemembers, like textual performers (Lancaster, 2001), are engaged inproducing media materials connected to the source text. A paradigmatic example of this engagement is represented byFansubbing, the practice of translating and subtitling foreign mediaproducts - mostly television series - performed by fans.
  • 4. FANSUBBING In many European Countries the diffusion of Fansubbing led to thedevelopment of online Communities, specialized in translating andsubtitling American Television Series. Fansubbers’ work is directed to all people who want to enjoy theproduct in its original language: the goal of this practice, in fact, is toavoid the cross cultural contaminations and the adaption choiceswhich often occur with the official dubbing. Thanks to fansubbers’ effort, the series in their original versionbecome available to everybody, also to people who do not understand(or have many difficulties) with the source language.
  • 5. METHODOLOGY The purpose of the research is to analyze the relational dynamicsand the organizational practices of the Italian FansubbingCommunities. The research adopts a Case Study Methodology, which is an idealapproach when a holistic analysis is required (Feagin, Orum,Sjoberg, 1991). Our methodology relied on a Mixed Method approach, that iscombining qualitative and quantitative techniques in data collectionand analysis.
  • 6. RESEARCH DESIGNPurpose of the research Analyze the relational dynamics andthe organizational practices of theItalian Fansubbing Communities.Approach Explorative Case StudyCase ItalianSubsAddicted(Itasa)Data collection and analysistechniques Analysis of official documentsproduced by Community; Press review of articles and videosabout the Community; Netnography for the analysis of theCommunity forum; In-depth interviews to 15 ItasamembersSampling Snowball sampling
  • 7. FansubbingThe CommunityInternalOrganizationCreative processesThe FansubbersMotivations ProfessionalizationWe used a concept map to identify the main research dimensions:RESEARCH DESIGN
  • 8. THE COMMUNITYItasa is the most important Italian CommunityFrom 140 users in 2005 to more than 300.000 users todayItasa mission is to produce accurate subtitles, as much asclose to the original version, avoiding the adaptation choiceswhich often occur with the official dubbingOver the time, Itasa improved the quality of its productionThe Community has achieved awareness among officialmedia, establishing partnerships with many broadcastingchannels
  • 9. ORGANIZATION CHARTAdminSeniorPublisherTranslatorUserTranslatoron probationRevisor onprobation Itasa is based on a well-definedorganization chart, where each individualis allocated with specific tasks, roles,responsibilities There is recruiting process for newsubbers: a person who wants to becomea translator has to pass a linguistic skillstest, aimed at evaluating both Italian andEnglish All the progressions are based on amerit system, rewarding the translationquality and the regular contribution tothe Community activities (cf. Barra,Guarnaccia, 2008) Another important Itasa key success isthe strong Community identity, based ona deep-seated sense of belonging and onthe practice of value sharing
  • 10. THE CREATIVE PROCESSFansubRevisorTranslatorTranslatorTranslatorTranslatorResyncher ImagineerBlogger Moderator The high quality of translations isguaranteed by the development ofa creation process where everysubtitle, before being published, isrigorously checked (cf. Barra andGuarnaccia, 2008) Subtitles production is based ona complex human resourcesmanagement process: each Revisororganizes a team, selecting itsmembers Each team has the responsibilityto translate and subtitle a TV-series for an entire season. TheRevisor’ s role is fundamental: hecorrects, manages, organizes anduniforms his team work Itasa has developed manyactivities alongside the translationprocess, considering specific tasksfor the website design and themultichannel communicationsmanagement“Revisors can be Publishers or Senior. A Revisortranslates, organizes his team work, verifies the finalproduct and uploads the subtitles on the website.”(Piwie1, Publisher).[
  • 11. THE CREATIVE PROCESS Collaborative problem solvingpermeates the entire creativeprocess: even if each subber hasa specific part of episode totranslate, every problem,hesitation, difficulty during thetranslation process is discussedwith other members and all thesubbers cooperate to find sharedsolutions Collaborative problem solvingis supported by the Communitystructure itself: Itasa isorganized so that thecommunication flows follow, withthe same fluency and speed,both horizontal and verticaldirectionsSolutionSeniorTranslatorTranslatorPublisher“A Translator is never alone. There is always someone hecan count on. Collaborative problem solving permeatesthe Community organization. A Translator can share hisdoubts with other translators o with the Revisors. If asubber has some problems during the translation, there isalways someone ready to help him” (Potomac, Publisher)
  • 12. PassionImproving EnglishBeing appreciatedby otherBeing part of agroup“If you like a series, you could spend hours on end, even justtalking with people who share the same passion. You never gettired of it. Comedies, for example, are full of references tobooks, movies or other series. I would be ready to spend a lotof time to read up about them” (Arissia, ex Translator)“Itasa experience has been very useful for my work…but alsofor my life. It is like, you know, going in Erasmus. You learn thelanguage, but you also become an expert of the countryculture” (Arissia, ex Translator, now Imagineer)MOTIVATIONS“Why do I translate? Because I enjoy myself with othermembers, but also because I get a great satisfaction,especially when the series is very famous. Receivingcompliments, obtaining other people thankfulness…it is great”(Uffanna, Translator)“Well…Itasa is not just a Community… it is much more… someof us are friends in the real life, we often go out together, wekeep in touch. Moreover, we all meet during the Communitymeeting. There is a friendly atmosphere that transcends thetv- series. Itasa is a real surprise for me” (Kaoss, Publisher)
  • 13. SKILLSLinguistic skillsTechnical skillsInterpersonalskills“I attend an international doctorate where it is necessary to speakEnglish. Itasa experience has revolutionized my language knowledge [..]I learn spoken English, the common language, English I use every dayfor my work “ (Uffanna, Translator)“The pictures I make for the Community have to be high quality. For thisreason, during the years, I have learnt to use Photoshop and othersgraphics programs very well. I’ve done my best [..] I’ve done everythingas ‘autodidact’, observing other expert people and trying to figure out alltheir secrets” (BabyJenks, Imagineer and Moderator)“Our activities are a paradigmatic example of collaborative problemsolving: when one of us has doubts, problems, he can ask thecommunity for help. Everyone expresses an opinion and the initial ideais gradually smooth and refined. The inside jokes are a good example ofthinking out of the box [..] To be a Revisor, it is indispensable to havecharisma. You have to manage a team, you must have organization andcoordination abilities. When I started being a subber, I didn’t have anyjob experience. Thanks to Itasa, I have understood what ‘taking onyour own responsibilities’ really means“ (Potomac, Publisher)
  • 14. CONCLUSIONS Despite the voluntary nature of this phenomenon, Fansubbing can beconsidered an effective field of professionalization, that gives to people thepossibility of experimenting business organizational forms and acquiringspecific skills Adding the Community experience to the curriculum vitae favorably impresseshuman resource managers: working for the Community without financialrewards is interpreted as synonymous of determination, motivation and civicengagement. Fansubbing gives to people, totally different for personal and social features,the possibility to interact, share opinions and confront each other. Passion forTV-series works as trait d’union which overcomes every geographic, social andcultural barrier.“There are no differences between North and South. You can live this type ofexperience wherever you are. There aren’t barriers or discriminations. You get intouch with a totally different reality. Every day you meet a lot of people,completely different from you. Some of us are students, doctors, lawyers, orteachers: we live different lives and we can have different opinions...but when weinteract, we respect each other, we try to understand others point of view.Fansubbing make you richer, make you grown up” (Arissia, Imagineer)