Fan to Pro: Deeper Roots Than They Think

So it seems the Canadian Ministry of Education, as reported in yesterday's Links of the Day, has discovered the seemingly radical concept that people can take their hobbies and interests and turn them into careers. Learning specialized forms of software through personal pursuits, they noted, can make one more valuable on the job market.

Gee, where have we heard that before?

In all seriousness, it's good to hear that a professional agency in charge of guiding people's life paths has taken note of what we've been saying all along – especially since fannish interests are going to be more and more in demand in tomorrow's marketplace.

The rush of major networks to get into streaming video, the importers of Asian pop culture leaning more and more toward instant translations, the explosion of video games on everything from consoles to handhelds to cell phones . . . it's a geek-friendly environment, and those who have been toiling on little-known but very effective video editing and 3-D effects software for their own pet projects are most poised to take advantage of it.

But somebody should tell the Canadian Ministry of Education that fan-to-pro has been around a lot longer than they think it has. After all, it's as old as fandom itself.

The release of the upcoming Star Trek movie has refocused attention on the original Trek series and its famous fans, the Trekkies, who are credited with developing fan culture as we know it (cons, fanfic, etc.). But they're also the first people to carry their fannish interests into the pro world.

Many of the original Trek fans turned their interest in the show into a passion for space and science. Some of them went into physics and astronomy. Others joined NASA in droves.

Today's fans may not be following exactly the same path (since today's fandom is much more diverse than that focused purely on a single series), but it's in the same spirit. Instead of outer space, they're venturing into cyberspace. In any case, they're creating a new frontier.

So, Canadian Ministry of Education people, you're definitely on to something – better late than never!