Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blog #6


I'd say the focal point of the introduction is the concept that content has been divorced from its traditional medium. He talks a lot about convergence, which is a pretty loosely defined term that academics and buzzword men have been throwing around for a couple of decades at this point. The fact that no two sources are really agreeing on what it means is fairly telling - it doesn't mean anything, it's just a sort of zeitgeist catchall buzzword that is intended to evoke the ideas that Jenkins was trying to nail to the page:

  • As in Weinberger, participation makes the definition of who produces the content a fuzzy one. Convergence in this sense describes the intersection, overlap, and in some cases replacement between and of user-generated culture and the supposed culture factories - the content distributors and producers.
  • Multimedia convergence is another one he's trying to talk about, which is describing the phenomenon that no one medium controls the delivery of these traditional media - film is available on your computer, broadcast TV, your cable connection, your phone, the movie theater and on the new generation of set-top streaming internet devices. News comes from papers, television, podcasts, blogs as well as good old word of mouth. This bleed-through of content from one medium to the next is what Weinberger would probably point to as the disintegration of the traditional first and second orders of order.
  • Another definition of convergence is related to the first one I brought up which is user participation through mediated channels with the content producers - as in the reality show examples of American Idol and Survivor - in one case the audience has virtually no power and is merely being given a token means of participation, and in the other, the audience is winning the intelligence arms race against the producers who are trying to preserve the element of surprise. I'm not sure that I've seen anything in Weinberger that directly compares with that, but he'd certainly be fascinated by the Survivor leaks community and their use of social media to coordinate large scale intel operations.


  1. I agree that one of the main themes from both of these pieces is the change in user participation in various media. Or at least the perceived change in user participation; the examples the Jenkins mentioned in the video from class suggests that he at least believes that this sort of participation has historical precedence.

    I’d also say that you also make a good point about “convergence” being mostly a buzzword; it’s a vague enough term that is can be stretched to cover many meanings without clearly defining any of it. I noticed while reading all of the myriad definitions that Jenkins attributed to it, that it became sort of an unwieldy, imprecise term. I’m tempted to say that we need a better term to describe the ideas that he is addressing, but another part of me wonders if it’s needed. Maybe the activity itself is too broad and varied to sit comfortably under a single umbrella.

    Weinberger probably would find the Survivor intel scouring interesting. I confess that to me it seems awfully trivial, but god knows that I have little room to cast stones at how others choose to spend their leisure time.

  2. We talked a bit in class about Jenkins terms and the value of coining a term. And, you're right, all terms (like this) are slippery...it really just matters who gets the book contract first. In the Jenkins lecture we watched, as Angela mentioned, he does unpack his terms a bit more and argues for a historical take on participatory culture in general. We also talked about the black box fallacy, which you allude to here but don't quite get into the details on (the focus on culture/cultural changes versus technological changes).