Convergence Culture = Convenience Culture

For our generation, convergence has become normality in the technological sphere which could position us as either the cleverest generation or the laziest. Convenience is everything these days. It seems that greater the functionality of a device, the more fondly it is perceived. An example of this is the mobile phone. This device – coming from humble beginnings – now goes far beyond the ability to make a phone call. The reality is, these devices are now considered a central information hub for consumers.

I read a surprisingly relevant Tweet by Megan Fox (2012) this week which stated:

We live in a society where losing our phone is more dramatic than loosing our virginity

With the increasing convergence and convenience of technology, comes the increasing importance of these items, which go far beyond your average telephone call. Personally, my phone is my central mobile web surfing device, my music player, my internet banking device, my photo gallery, my USB stick, my camera, my calendar, my GPS system, my address book, my social media hub, and I occasionally use it for a phone call.

However technological devices are not only undergoing convergence, they are also facilitating it. This circulation of media content—across different media systems, competing media economies, and national borders—depends heavily on consumers’ active participation. Henry Jenkins (2006) makes an interesting point in stating that each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow and transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives. When reading this, the first concept that came to mind was the Encoding/Decoding Model of Communication. Producers of content acting as the ‘sender’, encode a message with meaning, however the decoding of these meanings is highly influenced by the noise and the personal field of experience of the receiver. Having said this, the emergence of convergence has caused the distinctions between the sender and receiver in this model to become blurred with the surfacing of ‘produsers’ – the convergence of the ‘producers’ and ‘consumers’.

So having noted how convergence has heightened technological experience, increased importance of devices and shortened words; which side of the clever/lazy argument are you on?

Reference:

Deuze, M. (2007) Convergence culture in the creative industries, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 10/2, 243-263.

Jenkins, H. (2004) The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7/1, 33-43.

Jenkins, H. (2006). ‘Worship at the altar of convergence: A new paradigm for understanding media change’. In H. Jenkins, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide (pp 1-24). New York: New York University Press. [URL:http://www.nyupress.org/webchapters/0814742815intro.pdf].

Megan Fox 2012, Twitter, accessed 31/08/2012, https://twitter.com/ReaIMeganFox.

Image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OSNVbkd29xE/TzECENQZd7I/AAAAAAAAABk/6RtMBRj5xiQ/s1600/iphone-converge.jpg

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Techno-romanticism

Technology is like air; we live and breathe it and would ‘die’ without it. In modern times, technology infiltrates our lives. I witnessed an example of this today at Subway. While waiting in the line to order, an eight year old paid for his Subway with a debit card before answering a call on his iPhone. I don’t know why, but this terrifies me. This very action caused me to reflect upon what I was doing when I was 8 – and it certainly was not that.

It seems that our reliance on these global communication networks, particularly through the growth of the Internet and cyberspace, has developed a type of infatuation with technology itself. In my eyes, it could be portrayed as a romantic novel, where the internet promised it’s user to end individual isolation and foster inter-societal understanding – how romantic. Similar to the idea underlying the dream of global harmony and world peace, the idea underlying the dream of mediated proximity is that the availability of more communication contributes to the enhancement of social relations. But does this novel have the ‘happily ever after’ ending that we romantics are really looking for?

 
Kelly (1999) iterates that one by one, each of the things that we care about in life is touched by science and then altered. Human expression, thought, communication, and even human life have been infiltrated by high technology. But can this romanitically infatuated embryonic dependence (as seen in today’s subway situation) be deemed as healthy for society? If communication is the foundation of society, of our culture, of our humanity, of our own individual identity, and of all economic systems, yet all of these aspects are now focused online, can they be considered as part of our physical reality, or are they merely virtual reality?

Reference:

Barlow, J.P. (1996) A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace [URL: https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html%5D.

Dyson, E., Gilder, G., Keyworth, G., Toffler, A. (1994) Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age [URL: http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/futureinsights/fi1.2magnacarta.html%5D.

Mitew, T 2012, The Network Scoiety, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 August.