KUDOS TO THE fans. One of the nominees for the Hugo Awards this year is Archive of Our Own, a fanfiction archivecontaining nearly 5 million fanworks—about the size of the English Wikipedia, and several years younger. It’s not just the fanfic, fanart, fanvids, and other fanworks, impressive as they are, that make Archive of Our Own worthy of one of the biggest honors in science fiction and fantasy. It’s also the architecture of the site itself.
At a time when we’re trying to figure out how to make the internet livable for humans, without exploiting other humans in the process, AO3 (AO3, to its friends) offers something the rest of tech could learn from.
Here’s a problem that AO3 users, like the rest of the internet, encounter every day: How do you find a particular thing you’re interested in, while filtering out all the other stuff you don’t care about? Most websites end up with tags of some sort. I might look through a medical journal database for articles tagged “cataracts,” search a stock photo site for pictures tagged “businesspeople,” or click on a social media hashtag to see what people are saying about the latest episode of #GameOfThrones.