The Benefits of Convergence

“Welcome to convergence culture, where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways.”

Henry Jenkins – Introduction to ‘Convergence Culture – Where Old and New Media Collide’

This week in class we looked at the growing phenomenon of convergence, a phenomenon which Jenkins (2006, pg 7) describes as ‘the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the coorporation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want’.

It is now possible for consumers to access the content they wish to consume on a multitude of platforms; books can be read online or on mobile devices such as an iPad or iPhone,  television shows and movies can be watched on the Internet or downloaded through the television,  the majority of newspapers and magazines have an online counterpart and the sales of CDs has dropped with a corresponding increase in the sale of digital songs on iTunes and other online music sellers.  There has also been a convergence of platforms; modern smart phones are aptly described by Jenkins (2006, pg 5) as ‘the electronic equivalent of a Swiss army knife’, allowing the owner to perform activities normally conducted on separate and distinct platforms to be undertaken on a single device.

Whilst media corporations have been using new technologies to distribute media content through various platforms, consumers are also using these technologies to take control of the media flow (Deuze 2007).  However, as the amount of control that we have as prosumers (consumers with the ability to produce) has increased,  concentrated media ownership has also intensified.

Before, television as a medium was controlled by TV stations, the film industry by film companies and the music industry by record companies – corporations focused on a specific media

Now, massive media corporations no longer put all of their eggs in one basket, investing in all areas of the media realm.

These media conglomerates need to understand the ways in which a modern user consumes media.  I believe that a rewarding relationship between media producers and consumers can be created if these corporations utilise the collective knowledge of the people who access their content. The case studies provided by Deuze (2007) illustrate the benefits that companies who listen to their customers receive – for example,  instead of discouraging user modification of game content, games such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike actively promote collaborative authorship, resulting in games which intensely appeal to the ‘prosumers’ who were involved in their creation.

Overall, we need to understand that things have changed and consumers are no longer passive – they are hyper-connected and have the ability to produce content online without the risk and financial cost associated with traditional media. Encouraging a participatory culture has benefits for both the corporation and the end-user.

Thanks for reading!

Katie

Image sourced from here.

References:

  • Deuze, M 2007, ‘Convergence culture in the creative industries’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, pp 246-263
  • Jenkins, H 2006, ‘Introduction: “Worship at the Altar of Convergence’, in Convergence Culture: Where Old And New Media Collide, pp 1-24, New York: New York University Press

2 thoughts on “The Benefits of Convergence

  1. I really like that Swiss army knife and iPhone analogy, and the photo enhances this point more clearly!
    Furthermore, media corporations that are investing in all areas of the media realm are doing so as a tactical response to globalisation. The media giant News Corp, for example, owns a multitude of media platforms, which is also known as ‘multiplatforming’. This process of media convergence has been made possible because of technological convergence, flexibility enabled by digitalisation, and the conglomeration of media ownership. Not only does it maintain control, it has an effect on storytelling/news stories, and communication strategies.

  2. This is a fantastic post Katie! I wish I had seen it sooner, as it would have given me some ideas for my actual post. You make an excellent point whilst discussing the need for large media giants to effectively communicate with users and use the knowledge they possess to enhance the content they provide. I think is a key, yet thus far unexplored area in the topic of media convergence.

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