Convergence

From Media Technology and Culture Change

Convergence is a term defined by Henry Jenkins in his book Convergence Culture, asserts a revolutionary idea which contradicts the popular belief that new technologies will be displaced old technologies. This term, honoring its common semantic, defines how in our technologically revolutionary era old and new technologies merge. It defines how technology itself metamorphoses since the new technology builds upon the benefits of the past one, improving them. For example, word processors converged with the typewriter, just like the typewriter converged with pen and paper.

It is important to understand convergence within and fluctuating technological era where the term itself metamorphoses as technology does.

Now our days, existing technologies are converging with each other to offer mobility and practicality to the now more demanding consumer. Technological convergence is a phenomenon, which is affected by the consumer’s demands and the industries’ releases.


From Industry’s perspective

Industries are trying to find the way through which most effectively converge technology so as to please the user. Consumers aren’t happy anymore with a platform that uses one Medium. Now, no one wants a mobile just for talking, people want a photo camera, a video camera and a MP3 player. Thus, Industries are now, converging existing mediums to please the consumers and provide availability, mobility and practicality.

Convergence also means the cross-platform propagation of one creation. For, example the story-telling experience: e.g a film on Tarzan that then becomes the video game of Tarzan and also the DVD. Nevertheless, this represents risks since it involves a close collaboration between production companies and video game companies.

But the viability of this collaboration seems problematic. Industries see in convergence a way to maximize profits through the concentration of media ownership. Actually it is extension, synergy and franchise, what according to Jenkins, pushes industries to be part of the convergence revolution. Jenkins argues in his book Convergence Culture that industries fear each other, and don’t want the other to get the creative rights or a bigger economic success, they want to embrace convergence within their own conglomerates. Yet Jenkins argues that in order for convergence to be successful there must be collaboration among industries that control different platforms.


In the people’s hands

Henry Jenkins argues that convergence also happens when consumers use media across different platforms. Now almost any consumer can use his or her mobile’s camera to take a picture or video and put it in the Internet, set up their Wii-mote to perform 3D tracking on a computer desktop (Wii-mote Tracking Video: [1]), or rip a DVD and create a wacky remix video. Fans of popular (or not-so-popular) media can morph a narrative from visual media to text or from participatory media to a movie when they write and publish online their own fanfiction [2] or animate fan-videos to mimic and extrapolate upon the worlds and ideas of their favorite media objects. (Dead Fantasy I, based on game franchises Final Fantasy and Dead or Alive, by Monty Oum: [3]) They expand the original object into new audiences and accessibilities by interjecting new ideas and interfaces.

As his example of consumer participation type of metamedia in Convergence Culture Jenkins uses "The Daily Prophet," [4] a fictional school newspaper-style online publication based on the popular Harry Potter diegesis created by author J.K. Rowling, run by a teenage girl and including publications by children all over the country. The site contains publications made by consumers for consumers as an exercise in creativity, facility for the development of literary skill, and a celebration of the Harry Potter world through participation. Jenkins argues that this type of breach in the gap between consumer and producer is creating a vastly new dynamic in the convergence culture media, one that raises moral uncertainties and social questions in addition to the economic battles we most often see, sparked not over media property disputes but by the overwhelming immersiveness of collaborative media environments and its effects on media culture.

Conclusion

So convergence is driving in two opposite ways according to Jenkins: “it is lowering costs and thus expanding the range of availability, enabled consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content” while at the same time “ there is an alarming concentration of the ownership of mainstream commercial media, with small handful of multinational media conglomerates dominating all sectors of the entertainment industry.” (pg 18 Jenkins)

References

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York University Press. 2006