(oooohboy!!!! (much rubbing of hands!!!!))
I'm a for-real graduate student of anthropology, and one of my research areas happens to be popular culture and fanfiction and the Internet (okay,
that's three... and that's not the limits of my research work.) One of my friends/mentors is Dr. Toni Levy, who does a lot of work in this area,
particularly wth manga and anime: www.awn.com...
(Toni is LOTS of fun! We met at a fanfic convention, in fact.)
She's just one of several serious scholars who study this phenomina.
In any case, Durkheim is often cited in papers about fanfic and fan culture.
How will the future assess this? Well, now... you're making a few assumptions of your own. First, there's a number of books and papers on this
and there will be even more in the future (there's been a couple of studies of the Buffyverse, for instance (one VERY bad one, too) which takes into
account the Internet phenomina, something that won't exist in this form in 20 years. In the future, they'll be able to more correctly assess the
impact of these things.
Products may be tied up in copyright issues and other wrangles (an example I've wondered about is X-Files/Lone Gunmen... who actually controls all
the rights there? I'm not sure that Carter does have them all. A second problematical product is "Buckaroo Banzai" with ownership problems tied
up by a couple of deaths.) Some product access will be controlled by corporate decisions. But the fanfic will take the path that religions take when
a governing body attempts to control things and will make their own mythologies.
You can't predict what will survive (my current research, though, is on crossovers and who is likely to read/be involved in what.) You can't
predict the outcome if they decide to pump up product for an old favorite (the various Treks, or the re-emergence of Lord of the Rings after the
And, of course, as culture changes with time, the stories will either adapt or die IF they can find that new niche of meaning for the current
...y'know, I could go on about this stuff all night (g).
Fun, isn't it?
But no, they won't miss the context in the future. We scholars are already in the field, writing and interpreting and gathering the data.