On May 19th, 2008 the Big Light Social Network took on Philedom by storm. Now, less than one year later the site that brought fans of "The X-Files" together under one 'web' roof, has just hit 1,000 members.
At the forefront of it all, is Alison Groves, a self proclaimed social tool and all around web junkie. What do fans of Big Light love so much about Alison? In addition to keeping the door open for hundreds of fans each day and fanning the excitement for all things "X- Files," Alison is accessible.
Whether you find her via email, Twitter, Facebook or on Big Light, she is always there to chat about anything and everything ranging from 'X-Files' to cupcakes.
So just how did this witty girl find her way into the hearts of so many fans? Like many stories, it started out with knowing a friend.
Tiffany- Ok so to get some background, and just let me know if any of this is top secret, but how did you end up getting this gig?
Alison- A buddy of mine was the designer and developer on biglight.com at the time and recommended me for the gig.
Tiffany- When you started, did you have any idea what you were getting into?
Alison- Well, I've been a fan of the show since 2000, so I'd visited a few fan sites from time to time and knew how active and enthusiastic the community was.
When asked about the hardest part of getting the social network going, Alison is honest. "Mainly just getting the word out. It went live at the height of XF2 promotion, yet we didn't have a single piece of XF branding on the network so those coming to the site for the first time may not know it was THE place to be for XF2 info and community.
Tiffany- You now have 1,000 members in 11 months, how was it for you to log on and see that you had reached 1,000? Did you expect it earlier? Later?
Alison- To be honest I expected it earlier, but I couldn't be happier. I had noticed in the last few weeks that we were gaining members at a decent rate, and I had to hop on the phone with frank on an unrelated issue so right before I did that, I thought to myself "I should see how many members we're at today." We were at 999.
Tiffany- Was Frank surprised to see so many fans discussing his work on the social network?
Alison- I know that he is very pleased with it. one of my favorite things about Frank, besides the fact that he's one of the most gracious people I've ever met, is that he really GETS it. It is
such a pleasure to work with someone who understands how to really take care of fans. We have so many great discussions...and they are always centered around being as open and transparent with fans of his work as possible.
The work Alison and Frank have done with transparency seems to have paid off, with fans from around the world clamoring to find out what Frank Spotnitz will work on next. When asked if anything had surprised her about Big Light, Alison is gracious. "I just love how respectful everyone is, and how enthusiastic everyone is. You guys make my job so easy. I think my minor "celebrity" in the fandom came as a bit of a surprise. I was just hanging around to tend to things in the background, but it has been an amazing experience to interact with everyone, and I try and make myself as open as possible to everyone who wants to interact."
Tiffany- It's funny that you mention celebrity because that is where I was headed next. In an earlier interview with you, we referred to you as the Mother of Big Light. Frank is often referred to as Father Big Light. While I know you didn't expect that, looking back, what you have done has made a difference in people's lives. How does it feel for you when you hear stories from fans about what the social network means to them?
Alison- The best thing about the social network, and social networks in general if done right, is that it connects people from all across the globe that share a common interest. I've heard so many amazing stories of people who have met and become friends via the network that it just makes my day. I love that i get to do this for a living, in fact my title at work is social princess, and that the potential with social networks is almost infinite if people are just willing to let the community grow and prosper on it's own.
Tiffany- So if you are a social princess right now, what would it take to be a social queen? Because if there is voting involved, I think that as of now, you have at least 1,000 votes.
Alison- Well my boss actually picked that title out for me, had my business cards printed before i could object! But I frequently get asked, "Do you just know EVERYONE?!"
With Alison's involvements in the Big Light Social Network in addition to her day job and recent charity developments she is heading up, it's unlikely that the social princess gets much sleep. "The social princess does not sleep much. In fact, I got to go to a movie premiere with my old boss on Saturday night and when I finally composed myself the next day, I realized that it was the first time I had taken off 24 hours since Christmas day. I am constantly working, but when you really love what you do, I really don't know how to live without it."
Tiffany- So what's next for the Big Light Social Network? Where do you see it heading?
Alison- I just would love to see the network grow and prosper with the next thing in the pipeline for Big Light Productions as well heading toward the road of XF3. Or is that wishful thinking?
We at XFN hope its not.
Tiffany- I think all of the fans are waiting tonight with baited breath to see if there will be any news on a third "X-Files" feature film.
Alison- I have no doubt that the movie will happen, it's probably just a matter of "when" instead of "if" and won't it be fun to go along for the ride again?
Tiffany- It's been a whole year of amazing friendships and fandom for Big Light and for you. Anything new in the works for you outside of Big Light?
Alison- Oh man, we're really rocking at my day gig....we've created Raven Internet Marketing Tools to help businesses get the most out of their websites and there's growing interest in that every day. As far as freelance projects go, I'm also
involved in working with Off The Street Kids, one of the charities Gillian (Anderson) supports. We've just rolled out the first phase of the website and hope to have a fully functional one up in the next month or so. There's also a lot of interest in the social networking world these days, so I field A LOT of emails about helping people set those up and how to best utilize them. It's such an exciting time right now, I'm just fired up and working as hard as I can to make everything a smashing success.
XFN has no doubt that anything Alison gets involved in will be a smashing success. Tiffany- Thanks Alison for your time!
Alison- I just want to send out a big thank you to everyone who is a member of the network and made this last year so much fun for everyone! And thanks to XFN for being one of our biggest allies and supporters!
On that note, I would like to close this article with a few quotes from from Big Lighters and no, not the flamable variety.
"Not being able to attend the IWTB premiere or any of the XF's events, last year, I loved Biglight because it gave everyone a place to express their excitement and share their stories about each of the events they attended, including pictures and videos to all of us who couldn't be there. Even now, long after the movie, the various events that have taken place...those not present can share in the experience through BigLight. It's also brought a lot of members of the various 'X-Files' fansites together, under one roof so to speak, kind of like one big happy X-Phile family." - Leslie Connors
"I am forever thankful that (Frank) is kind enough to be so in-touch with the XF fans. It makes me absolutely LOVE this fandom." - Jessica Sperty
"What I first thought back then was to describe it as a "myspace for philes" in fact I think I described it like that to a couple of friends to get them interested, but unlike such a network, Big Light is more familiar, safer, and polite even when differences appear between us. The one thing that I always find there is the availability of everyone, from the top chief of the network that its Alison, to the people like me that go to be a normal phile in search of other special beings such as other philes. I like the fact that whenever I go in I find something to smile about, a sincere smile about the simple things that make us such a great fandom. It's the ultimate place to relate. I'd like to believe that we, XFN and BL, complement each other."- Avi Quijada
To jump off from what Avi said, you had us at "I Want to Believe." - Tiffany Devol
A message from the IBG Team-
"Personally, Big Light allowed me the opportunity to meet Patricia, Liz and Karen, and therefore helped to form what would later become IBG. I've always been actively involved in philanthropy, but having the opportunity to actually form a non-profit and build something from the ground up has been wonderful. It's something I've always wanted to do, and I have Big Light and "The X- Files" to thank for that. It has also been the source of many great personal friendships, locally and abroad. Thanks to Big Light I not only have a great group of friends in my immediate area, as well as all across the US, I also have places to stay in Europe this summer when I travel abroad to see Gillian Anderson in "A Doll's House." The impact of this particular social network and fan site has really transcended the online world, as it has brought so many people together in friendships that would seem to stand the test of time and distance. The good that I've seen as a result of Big Light's existence, and the relationships I've formed personally and the ones I've noticed transpire, go beyond any online presence or television show. I think a huge factor in such friendships resulting from the social network is that it is one of very few fansites that remains friendly, upbeat and positive. Alison Groves has fostered a network of fans who respect each other and who don't throw fire, and I would imagine that is why the Big Light network continues to thrive and grow. I'm sure I could never imagine when I signed up for an account [member #25!!] nearly one year ago, how much I and so many others would end up gaining from it."- Caileigh Scott
For those of you who aren't members of the Big Light Social Network, and if you aren't, well
you should be, head on over to network.biglight.com and join the family! Also, the social network is celebrating its first birthday in the coming weeks and member Raskolnikov is heading
up the Big Light Anniversary Party. Members are asked to submit a 20 second .mov file telling Frank what positive experiences you have had while on the network. The deadline for those submissions is April 30, 2009.
This is Tiffany signing off and remember, stay tuned tonight for up to the minute coverage of the book signing event on both Big Light and XFN.