Posted by: acecasanova | October 3, 2011

Convergence Culture and Me

“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 intersect in unpredictable ways.” (Jenkins p. 2) Now I knew this book would be interesting from the moment I decided to read the introduction under the impression that it counted as chapter 1.  The example of Dino Ignacio’s “Bert is Evil” image and how it spread like wild fire going from simply being a viral image that started out as “all in good fun”, and was taken on as a symbol for the largest terrorist movement the world has ever seen and posted all over CNN.  The image of Bert with Osama Bin Laden and the spread of this image across multiple media mediums forced the representatives of one of the largest kids television shows to threaten to take legal action for the use of their character.  All the while a new cult fan base for the “Bert is Evil” images spread across the internet and new images began to pop up depicting Bert as a terrorist, evil dictator, etc.  All of this, accomplished from a high school students bedroom.

I find this story to be the perfect example of not only convergence culture, but the power of transmedia channels and the flow of information.  Media today has given each user indescribable powers of influence over the rest of the world that they have never had before.  The power to manipulate, start movements, protests, and call for assembly.

Another example of the power that media gives us is the London riots.  Rioters not just in London, but in the surrounding cities communicated through mass texting.  Their organization and gathering points were always strides ahead of police predictions because their methods of communication were untraceable, which made their movements more or less unpredictable.  All of this power has been brought to you by convergence.  “By convergence I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.”  (Jenkins p. 2)

Question #1: In what ways have you felt empowered by Convergence culture and do you have an example of how you were able to use your power to influence, move, or persuade a group of people?  Maybe even if you were able to make a small change in someone’s life.

Given this new power of influence and the ability to gather masses through the privacy of your own home, the people have taken their power to new levels.  What is it that gives these people such power though?  One theory would be Pierre Levy’s concept of “collective intelligence” and the creation of “knowledge communities”.  They say that knowledge is power, and the internet is a prime example of this.  An example of the power that collective intelligence gives and the influence of the people would be the “Spoilers” community that Jenkins speaks of in Chapter 1.

These knowledge communities, like “the sucksters”, have strength in numbers, but they also have their weaknesses.  Without a collective group leadership they can be manipulated, turned against each other, twisted and confused as we’ve seen with the penetration of Mark Burnett, producer of Survivor, and the entry of ChillOne.

The fact that “the Suckters” had the ability to gain the attention of Mark Burnett and CBS where the major network felt they needed to step in and plant false information in protection of their show to prove the power that social media and convergence culture has.  Atop that, the fact that a community that loves to try and play this game of spoiling the show can also becoming one of the strongest marketing tools for the network and more or less revolutionize social media across the net.  Personally I hate reality television, but the idea behind spoiling may have resparked a slight interest… maybe.

Question #2: In what ways (if any) has an online community affected your life?  Whether you found your mate through eHarmony, or were bullied online in high school, or won a major contest, how has the internet changed your life?



  1. “Affective Economics… a new configuration of marketing theory, still somewhat on the fringes but gaining ground within the media industry which seeks to understand the emotional underpinnings of consumer decision making as a driving force behind viewing and purchasing decisions.” (Jenkins p. 61-62) What interested me the most about this discussion of affective economics in relevance to American idol is the, what I have temporarily dubbed, “commodity paradox”. The paradox is “…to be desired by the networks is to have your tastes commodified. On the one hand, to be commodified expands a groups visibility. Those groups who have no recognized economic value get ignored. That said commoditization is also a form of exploitation. Those groups that are commodified find themselves targeted more aggressively by marketers and often feel they have lost control over their own culture, since it is mass produced and mass marketed.” (Jenkins p. 62-63). When I first read this paradox, the first thing that popped into my mind was the perpetuation of stereotypes.

    So that leads me to question #3. In what ways have you witnessed media exploitation of a culture, and how did that perpetuate, and possible help to shape your image of that culture through stereotypes?


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