Convergence and Its Paths

Hi Digital Diary Followers

It has become fairly obvious that we live in a culture that is undergoing vast change in terms of media. Everything we need is now basically in the palm of our hands: television, music, maps, photos, calendars…the list goes on. However it is because of this rapid change that we see a focus on the process of convergence and the mixing of technologies, industries and audience. Personally being born and cultivated into the digital age I find it harder to grasp these effects because honestly I don’t know any better.

The process has been described as to me as intertwined i.e. the changes we see technology also directly affect not only the industry but also the audience. Content is beginning to flow across multiple platforms because of the change from analogue to the digital. With this change to digital technology we also see a reformat of our behaviours. Applying this idea to myself I see that when I was a kid most of my time was spent sitting in front of a television where I would watch a cartoon and laugh because that’s what the message was telling me to do however when technology comes in such as a Wii console it reformats my behaviour and sends me a new message i.e. no longer should I just be sitting and watching television I should be actively involved with it.

Convergence, it seems, becomes problematic in terms of the audience. There has been a paradigm shift from passive to active and no longer are we just the consumer we are also the prosumer. The technology we use today stimulates us to share content. Being a YouTube enthusiast I realised this idea is applied to the daily vloggers I follow. In CTFxCinema, Alli (the host) reviews movies. She then asks her audience to post video responses to what they liked/disliked about the movie. Not only does Alli share content in terms of the movies she reviews but she also is an example of where an audience member is being active.

The problem seems to come when you look into the perspective of the industry in relation to the audience. Although they respond positively to the idea of new technology they do not respond well to the idea of content flow across multiple platforms. Why though? Delving deeper into the idea I was shown there are a number of reasons for this. They believe audiences should still be in the “end position” – our role purely to consume. However because of this shift to the new active audience and developments of technologies such as the Internet we see that basically now anyone can produce content about anything at a small cost. This contrasts to the scarcity model that the industry bases themselves around. Also because digital content is easily shared by us it leaves zero control to the industry.  I saw this in practice after doing a simple search of “full movie” in YouTube. While I get to now sit in my room and watch a copied version of The Vow the industry doesn’t earn a single cent.

So it seems that although we are moving forward in terms of the technology and the audience, the industry seems to be lagging behind. To me it seems obvious that industry should attempt to adapt to the process however this is probably easier said than done. The fundamental understanding that came to me from this was that this clash is occurring because of the process of convergence.

Sources

Mitew, T. 2013. Trajectories of Convergence, BCM 112. University of Wollongong, unpublished.

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