Sunday, June 5, 2022

The new local, the new national, the new world.

 Yesterday's Sherllolicon listen-in got me to thinking a little more about the changes Zoom has brought to the Sherlockian world. While an annual event, Sherllolicon also had the feel of a Sherlockian society that met once a year, with old friends coming together and some new folks joining the mix. And the "one event a year" society is a Sherlockian tradition that had taken place in more than one city.

Taking away our geographical limitations, Zoom gatherings have given us new borders -- time zones and language. Sherlockians from all over the world show up at any given meeting based on two factors: If they can be awake at the hour the meeting is held and if they understand the language the meeting is being conveyed in. The widest audiences that we in America see currently are those held roughly mid-day in middle America. And with that expanded reach, "local" is a lot larger area than it used to be.

In Zoom world, "local" almost becomes more about interests than city. Sherlollicon, for instance, seemed  localized by its interest-center of BBC Sherlock and particular characters therein. The John H. Watson Society is localized by its monthly Watson topic and the personalities of regular attendees. The Crew of the Barque Lone Star . . . well, that is now what I'd call the equivalent of a "national" society, one whose interest in Sherlock Holmes is basic and broad enough to pull considerably more than fifty attendees each month.

Much of Zoom Sherlockiana is still based around the old local society system, but we're now at a point where you can see where things are headed. The old local Sherlockian group, of folks in the same city getting together for dinner or discussion is still there for the in-person social. But the new "local" of a community based on similar interests in Sherlockiana is on the rise, and not just thanks to Zoom.

The internet's ability to connect people with special interests has been apparent for decades now, we just hadn't fully exploited it the way other groups had. Our numbers are still relatively small compared to other special interest groups. And yet, bit by bit, we're getting there. I mean, Sherlockian chronologists now have a club -- how long is it before Sherlockian locationists (those who identify the sites of the Canon cases) do likewise? The ACD specialists have a group again. One could see a group forming for the fans of the original NYC Baker Street Irregulars and classic Sherlockian writings. Or the Granada series.

Due to the general demographics of our cult in those days pre-BBC Sherlock, we didn't all jump into advances in tech as folks like Scott Monty might have hoped we would. In fact, there was a lot of resistance to the new stuff. ("Yeah, Scott, that RSS feed thing sounds like work . . ." -- we won't get into the Sherlockian whom that particular thought came from.)  We were, perhaps, aged past the point of "early adopters" then. Maybe a lot of us still are. Yet the fandom got an infusion of youth and the younger-minded from the 2010s, and you can start to see things evolving with the tech, especially after that pandemic kick in the pants.

Of course, we're still a pretty small community as hobbies go. Sherlock Holmes is still not BTS, real estate, or Marvel movies. And that is kind of a blessing. You have to have armies to have fandom wars, and while our numbers still hold us back from some innovations, we don't have the daily Twitter shouting matches that make some interests intolerable en masse. Small has its advantages.

The old local will be with us for a long time to come, too, as actually seeing people in person is a true pleasure. But it's not the only game in town now, and new "localities" are probably going to emerge as we move ahead, as they are already. And I don't think we've seen the final form of what an online Sherlockian society can be at its full potential yet.

This period should make for an interesting chapter in the Sherlockian history books one day, for sure. We're all still working it out, one meeting, one event at a time. Who knows what's to come?

The future sure isn't done with Sherlockiana just yet.

1 comment: