Penn Gillette has an opinion that comes up on his podcast from time to time that makes me wonder about its Sherlockian application. Penn contends that the internet has made better jugglers. The internet has nothing to do with the act of juggling, 'tis true, but the way it brings ideas to people who might not have seen them previously is doing marvelous things. The example he gives is a pair of sisters in a part of Russia who would never have been around any jugglers, have been able to see any jugglers perform in person, but thanks to YouTube and what they saw there, developed their skills on their own and became two of the best jugglers in the world today.
When I first encountered the works of Sherlock Holmes fandom, it was because my French class took a field trip to Chicago and I found a collection of Sherlockian scholarship in a bookstore there. From there, I found the fandom and connected, but the chain of probability was pretty slim. I had to take French. I had to go on the field trip. I had to go to that bookstore, and once there, I had to see that book. Can you imagine how many potentially amazing Sherlock Holmes fans missed out on such a chance that same year?
Our new interconnectedness means finding the fandom of Sherlock Holmes is easier than ever, and it also adds a new factor: creating a fandom of Sherlock Holmes is easier than ever. If I just want to start writing articles expressing my love of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, I can just start putting them out there and let Sherlock Holmes fans find me. I dearly love how the Baker Street Babes sprung to life without seeking the blessing of any existing parts of the cult.
The only thing is, as easy as it is to find some tentacle of Sherlock Holmes fandom, seeing it all, truly capturing the big picture, is now nearly impossible. Wessex Press is going to try to capture a bit of that magic with their volume The One Fixed Point in a Changing Age: Essays on Sherlockiana by Online Fandom concieved by the Babes. It's probably the book that I'm most looking forward to in the coming year. (Well, once Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes comes out next month!)
As this blog is really an extension of an ongoing Sherlockian commentary that started in a monthly newsletter in 1983, I don't really consider it a part of the new age of online Sherlockian fandom. There are far too many cranky old guy notions floating around my Sherlockian brain, so I'm always delighted to see fresh work from new folk. (Despite that sentence, Elementary is still a load of crap. Seriously.) Some of the research and theorizing on tumblr about Sherlock's survival of the Reichenbach fall on Sherlock's final episode was both brilliant and impressive in its detail.
The new age of internet-triggered Sherlockians is already producing good work, and hopefully the Penn Gillette theory will prove true about our little hobby as well.