Digital Media & Culture: Collaborative Essay Collection 2018/Convergence/Research Question 2:/The Snow Ploughs
How have technological advancements shaped the definition of convergence, and what influence has it had on everyday life?
Online digital media contribute to the architecture of contemporary civic spaces around which public, private, and social activity develops, by suggesting possibilities for interaction (Papacharissi, 2013). With the progression of online convergence, the world of communication in everyday life has become simpler and more accessible. Since media convergence covers a wide range of concepts, this essay will analyse convergence, and it's subsequent effects on the habits of society in the digital world, by dividing it into four sections.
The first section will explain the background knowledge of media convergence and define convergence in the context from which it will be analysed in this essay. Next, the essay will turn to focus on media technology, specifically how advancements have changed this industry in recent years. After that, participatory culture will be analysed within Jenkins's argument. The fourth section will use Jenkins to explore the concept of collective intelligence, explaining how as online platforms have gained power, people are more able to gain knowledge by interacting with others online. Having laid out the foundation of convergence in response to advancements in technology, the final section of the essay will discuss the impact of convergence on everyday life of the media user.
What is Convergence?
Media convergence has been discussed by many theorists. However, among them, the working definition of convergence for this essay will compare Pavlik and Jenkins' view of convergence.
Pavlik (2004) said that media convergence is the union of telecommunication, computing and media in the digital environment. He argued the existing technological services are now systematically improved and their role has been changed by joining with other services. Furthermore, new innovations create convergence, Pavlik said. (Pavlik and McIntosh, 2004) Due to the innovation, Online users now can communicate internationally, also can communicate via e-mail, online forums, and other interactive media more easily and quickly with those who create and publish mass communication content. (Pavlik and McIntosh, 2004) For example, while the camera has existed for a long time, now users can not only take pictures, but also upload them on Social media directly, snapping, editing, and posting pictures all from the same place -- their mobile device. Therefore, creating visual content is no longer only for professionals, making the impact of visual content bigger. For instance, the K-pop market is now closely connected with YouTube. The K-pop fans can communicate with their band and other fans via online video streaming. By uploading their cover dance video and the video about their reaction to the commercial videos, K-pop fans can communicate with one another and their idols using a public platform. Like the K-Pop market, Pavlik is paying attention to the changes that people now use to communicate in various ways, which differs greatly from when they previously were only able to communicate textually via email or letters.
On the other hand, Jenkins (2006) saw convergence as 'flow of content'. It means media audiences have a key for the convergence while he thinks the technological development also gives huge impact for it. According to Jenkins, a huge number of private corporations and a small number of big media corporations are creating new kind of content today. A large number of individuals actively engage and socialise to create media contents, and consequently media convergence is created. Therefore, he argues convergence also allows minority groups to shout out their voice, so it can affect society. The '#me too' movement on the social media site Twitter, which has many users globally, is a good example. The movement is about shouting out with hashtag ‘#me too’ if someone has experiences of sexual abuse. By this movement, they advocate for a social issue and for punishing sexual criminals on a much larger platform than ever before, creating a new culture. Like ‘#me too’ movement accelerated new culture, Jenkins argues that convergence comes from collaborating with many other cultures and it continually creates new cultures (Jenkins, 2001). Jenkins believes that media convergence can refer to all contents; texts, images, sounds and videos are converged digitally. This convergence does not occur in just one country, but it occurs everywhere and in every industry at the same time. For example, the movie called <Star Wars> created benefits in various industries such as toys, movies, video games, cartoons and novels. Not only this, but the contents were sold globally. It shows that one media content can make ripple effect to other platforms in the global world, and that convergence evolves with changing media advancements.
Media convergence is very important when recognising how society has been influenced by technological advancements. As technology develops, various parts of electronic devices and machines evolve toward performing similar tasks therefore prior to the 21st Century most commonly used technology was designed to handle a minority of tasks for example, a telephone would be capable of transmitting and receiving calls whereas now a mobile can carry out several tasks simultaneously. Technological Convergence has come a long way in the last few decades and will continue to evolve, the internet and mobile phones have been two of the most influential aspects of technology that have led to cultural change regarding social interaction.
Jenkins (2006) defines convergence as ‘flow of content across multiple media platforms’, suggesting that media audiences play a crucial role in creating and distributing content, therefore a consideration of the social changes, as well as technological changes within society should be examined. It is important to note that Jenkins (2006) states convergence is an ongoing process that should not be viewed as a displacement of the old media, but rather as interaction between different media forms and platforms. Erdal (2011) suggests that media
convergence should be viewed as ‘cooperation and collaboration’ between formerly unconnected media forms and platforms, supporting Jenkins theory.
These unconnected media forms became connected through the introduction of the internet and the on-going developments to satellite technology to spread connectivity throughout the globe to produce and display instantaneous media content at our fingertips. Jan Van Dijk (2012) discusses how internet brings the “whole world” into homes and work places. He believes when media such as the internet becomes even more advanced it will gradually appear as “normal media” and paper media will eventually become out of date such as newspapers and letters. Jenkins (2006) refers to technological convergence as the process of taking 'words, images and sounds and transforming them into digital information', this is one of the most important processes of the five laid out in Jenkins', 'Convergence Culture' as 'old media' is being transformed into 'new media' and as the expanding relationships between mediums continues thus enables them to flow across platforms. Technological convergence simplifies the production of media content while also greatly expanding, accelerating and facilitating its distribution, often with associated cost savings. A digital photograph, for example, can be shot and circulated globally within seconds via the Internet, eliminating the need for film processing, printing and physical distribution. Similarly, consumers can access multiple forms of media content — books, radio and television programs, music, movies, newspapers — on their computers, smart phones or other devices at a time and place of their choosing, often for free. With technological convergence, the electronic transmission of data, which can be exponential, replaces the more singular, physical transportation of material goods. This digitalisation of media content condensing all mediums into the one place for anyone to access gives a larger participatory factor. CRAIG STEWART95 (discuss • contribs) 15:16, 5 April 2018 (UTC)
Technologies and the evolution of new technologies have a profound impact upon our relationships with each other, ourselves and the world (Singh, 2018). When analyzing the matter and substance of convergence within media studies, Jenkins definition is comprehensible and conveniently accessible in his book Convergence Culture. In his book, he offers three major focal points with his definition of convergence; media technology, participatory culture, and collective intelligence (Jenkins, 2006). We’ve reviewed how media technologies have impacted the definition of convergence and the ever changing ways in which new media is emerging, it is time to look at how participatory culture has become a strong force in this digital age and how media scholars have studied and researched to form their own interpretation of what is meant by “participatory culture” in aid of what convergence is and how it has influenced everyday life.
In Jenkins book he states “The flow of content across multiple media forms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour by media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want” (Jenkins 2006). The part I want to examine from this quote is the “behaviour by media audiences.”
The information society is the successor of the industrial society (Athique, 2013). In Athique’s book, he characterizes the information society with some key concepts; knowledge of displaces, mechanical archives, social life as data, purposeful knowledge, continuous innovation, competitive velocity, and exponential change. Athique believes that the constant progression of technological communication capabilities is a result of the evolution of online communication performed by the users and consumers. The developments of television, computers, and mobile smart phones has shifted the primary terrain of cultural consumption from public to private spaces (Athique, 2013).
Building an online society and participatory culture has become so easy, especially with the growth of unprecedented online media platforms and the abundance of new entertainment experiences. The culture of reddit is a result of online forums, discussion boards, and content-sharing of specific pop culture topics separated by “subreddits” all on one social-news site. One of the founders created Reddit to be “the front page of the internet” (Lagorio-Chafkin, 2012). Since its creation in 2005, reddit and subreddit communities have been a strong example for the participatory culture and a symbol for the participation in collective intelligence. While researching, I found two articles comparing opposing views of the power of the modern day participatory culture on reddit and how it is beginning to affect everyday lives.
The first article was a study conducted by behavioral scientists. They investigated a pro-eating disorder community on Reddit, an anonymous social networking platform with topical forums, to identify expression of behaviors aligned with eating disorder symptoms and support for these behaviors (Sowles et al, 2018). This negatively driven content was all compelling to the active online culture of reddit. Reddit differentiates itself from other social media sites by promoting “throwaway accounts” and pseudonyms to facilitate anonymous discourse (Sowles et al, 2018). Users feel safe behind an anonymous screen name. If we take the online gaming culture as an example, millions of users log on every day, generating a massive networked society seen on websites such as twitch and YouTube. A study conducted by group of researchers displayed results of how gamers reimagine their identities through online virtual world communities (Pinto et al, 2015). This relates back to Antique’s Information society theory by seeing social life as data (Athique, 2013). When readers who are prone to eating disorders, up to 70 million people worldwide suffer from an eating disorder (i.e., anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or other specified feeding or eating disorder (Sowles et al, 2018), have easy access to an online community to discuss ways in which it is easier to perform these harmful actions to one’s self.
The second article was a more positive when describing an incident that happens on reddit every day. Online communities can provide social support to those in need and can foster personal empowerment for individuals experiencing distress (Krauss et al, 2017). Researchers analyzed 100 Reddit posts all which related to users seeking advice or companionship with their substance abuse. In the eyes of the everyday users of the internet, this outlet is 24 hours, worldwide, and a free way to express personal issues. This exploratory research highlights the potential of online communities as tools for individuals coping with addiction recovery, and future research should investigate if involvement in such communities would be a beneficial supplement to more traditional recovery practices (Krauss et al, 2017).
Collective Intelligence occurs in convergence culture this happens as information is transferred between different media platforms, different people and across multiple industries. users engage interactively with each other and the material therefore creating collective intelligence. It was a term first created by a French cyber theorist, Pierre Levy. He called on-line communities using collective intelligence "knowledge communities" as we begin to share more and interact there will be more ideas taking place.
In Henry Jenkins' book, Convergence Culture, he states that "None of us know everything; each of us knows something; and we we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skills." by using the different resources and combining the knowledge we achieve collective intelligence. Jenkins thinks that collective intelligence can be "seen as an alternative source of media power. We are learning how to use that power through our day-to-day interactions within convergence culture." Due to the growing power it has created it has allowed organisations to change their structure, such as Military, Religion, Law and Politics.
The internet is the main cause of of collective intelligence as it is changing the relationship between people and interactivity. More people are voicing their opinions which can then have an influence on other organisations such as laws. Platforms such as Twitter and Instagram allows people to express themselves which can therefore affect policies. It is easier for people to communicate through the internet, one person alone could not make a big impact however, a group of people with similar morals or point of view could create a massive difference especially when it comes to politics and laws. The disadvantage is that not many people on twitter or instagram are using collective intelligence to influence the way we live, instead use the tool to criticize others to comment on entertainment industries. Many television programmes such as Gogglebox have no introduced their own hashtag on twitter to enable them to see the comments and criticism about the show, this draws people in to watch and join in the trend. However, Collective intelligence if used correctly can alter certain rules and affect how people live. Fans are a good example of collective intelligence, Star Trek fans gathered online to share stories and thoughts about the programme, Nancy Baym has discussed the important functions of talk within online soap fandom: 'Fans share knowledge of the show's history, in part, because the genre demands it. Any soap has broadcast more material than any single fan can remember.' they may inform each other about what they may have missed previously no single fan can know everything about the programme to fully appreciate the series. Lexi states that within a knowledge community, 'no one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity.' the online communities of fans allow people to "show off too each other" (Baym). For the community and online society collective intelligence is important for the growth of knowledge. Younger generations can learn more about politics and other subjects by being involved in online groups.
Everyday Life in Response to Convergence
The discussions surrounding convergence — what it is, how increased technological advances have redefined convergence, how participatory culture and collective intelligence have become more relevant than ever in the online discourse — have created new pathways for analysis on consumer behaviour. The most recent decades have brought wave after wave of new technologies to the media market, and these changes to the media industry have both been shaped by and helped in shaping the way users interacts with media in their everyday lives.
In her book A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age, Zizi A. Papacharissi presents the idea of technology as an “architecture” of life that “informs human action by suggesting, concealing, or disrupting activities” (2013). Building on this idea, Papacharissi makes clear the sociality of technology and its inseparable ties to public and private spaces:
- Online digital media contribute to the architecture of contemporary civic spaces around which public, private, and social activity develops, by suggesting possibilities for interaction… These are often understood as the inherent affordances of technologies, that is, intrinsic potentialities… The technological architecture within which affordances are presented supplies individuals with a collage of choices, further multiplied, adapted, or restricted by human action and reaction. A combination of infrastructure, content, design, and technological architecture refers to the simulation of physicality that virtual environments present individuals with. Technological architecture, like all architecture, is social. (Papacharissi, 2013)
In this understanding of technology and media as shapers of “civic spaces,” Papacharissi lays out an argument for how convergence in media manipulates the technological architecture in ways that have made users alter the flow of their public and private spaces in response, stating that “Converged media architecture presents a menu of converged media practices, which converged media audiences and converged media publics employ, expand, or reject, so that the circle of convergence in everyday life resumes its infinite course” (Papacharissi, 2013). Convergence has therefore made consumers of media more active participants in the digital world; our technology has been “integrated to the rhythms of everyday life,” and has forever altered our everyday routines.
For instance, authors of Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life, Graham Meikle and Sherman Young, discuss how moments as intimate as ultrasound scans have become routinely digitized. A baby in utero has already had its first interactions with the world via a television screen, and then again when this image is downloaded and shared across Facebook, texted to relatives, or even set as a phone background (Meikle & Young, 2012). Effectively, media convergence has given technology the ability to invade even the most private of spaces, quite literally life before birth. The advancement of technology has only bolstered the instantaneous sharing of information across any number of media channels, and therefore blurred the lines between consumer and producer, illustrating "one of the cultural logics of convergent media -- circulation." Converged media devices like smartphones bring public spaces like social media and television into the private, and in response, media users have created a digital culture that has completely restructured everyday life and fostered new opportunities for originality. Miekle and Young remark, "Media texts and images are not only broadcast from the few to the many, but are circulated through networks, often with innumerable points of origin and recirculation, creating new and dispersed experiences of mediated space."
This new digital culture shaped by the rapid onset of media convergence has not only rearranged the routines of everyday life, but has also changed dialogues about media itself. Media convergence has given new life to conversations about communication and given society new access to information that allows for participation in media which was previously unattainable. In many ways, convergence has not only enhanced the experience of the user by allowing them to interact with selected content via cross-platform media, but technological advancement has given consumers the means to become producers, paving the way for an entirely new digital culture built out of user originality.
- Athique, A. 2013. “The Socio-technical Interface in Digital Media and Society: An Introduction.”
- Jenkins, H. (2001). Convergence? I Diverge.. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 26 March 2018, from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/401042/convergence-i-diverge/
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- Pavlik, J., & McIntosh, S. (2004). Converging Media: An Introduction to Mass Communication. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
- Pierre Levy, Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace (Cambridge: Perseus, 1997), p.217.
- Pinto, D. C., Reale, G., Segabinazzi, R., & Vargas Rossi, C., Alberto. (2015). Online identity construction: How gamers redefine their identity in experiential communities. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 14(6), 399-409. 10.1002/cb.1556 Retrieved from http://ezproxy.stir.ac.uk/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=111509324&site=eds-live
- Singh, Greg. 2018. “‘New’ Media and Remediation” lecture. [Powerpoint Slide Video]. https://canvas.stir.ac.uk/courses/2740/pages/2-dot-1-new-media-and-remediation?module_item_id=103884
- Sowles, Shaina J, et al. “A Content Analysis of an Online pro-Eating Disorder Community on Reddit.” ScienceDirect, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, 3 Feb. 2018, www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.stir.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S1740144517302528?via%3Dihub.