Intro to Networked Collaboration

Convergence Culture

In the Henry Jenkins reading, he is quoted as saying “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture.” What is meant by that?
YouTube is the most widely used network for gathering and sharing videos. Everyone “converges” there for information. YouTube permits everyone, everywhere to share information and create content of any kind to be shared with anyone around the world. You can access any type of media: news, music, interviews, classic commercials etc. It can also be used by students, companies and political parties who want to share a message. It allows everyone and everything to have their “15 minutes of fame”.

What is “participatory culture”?
A participatory culture is people sharing ideas, creating projects, getting involved in community affairs and knowledge sharing. This culture makes you feel like you are part of something bigger and facilitates making connections to those around you who may share the same ideas and interests.

What are some of the social networks you use and why do you use them?
Honestly, I created a Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn page for past courses and rarely if ever use them. While they all facilitate networking, I find that I don’t have the time to post daily or connect with people in that way. I prefer simple email and the phone. My colleagues who do use them, do so for photo and music sharing, networking, dating, advertising, party planning, and catching-up with old friends.

How have technologies like sms/text messaging, youtube, and myspace changed the way that we interact?
SMS & Texting: These technologies have taken away face to face time. Sure they have made life easier and perhaps more interesting, but I miss the “real” interactions.

Youtube: I absolutely love it. Being able to watch old music videos, relive my youth with vintage food/toy commercials is simply amazing. The community of Youtube is a special breed, someone is always posting new content for the most obscure subjects.

Myspace: Don’t use it.

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February 5, 2008 - Posted by | convergence, culture | , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. *In the Henry Jenkins reading, he is quoted as saying “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture.” What is meant by that?*

    Mr. Jenkins thinks YouTube is the “fullest Embodiment of convergence culture”. Why moreso than MySpace or similar networks… is it because television is probably the most popular medium in our culture? And the fact that anyone can do it or at least participant as an observer?

    Mr. Jenkins proposes that “fan communities” are the “seedbeds of cultural communities” where the distribution mechanism (video + Internet) allows for amateur content to be globally shared. While I agree that this deployment method allows a great NUMBER of people to access and even participate in the content in an anonymous way, I don’t believe it (YouTube or similar networks) creates a “seedbed of culture”. Artists, thinkers, and people that really have something to say have been finding communities and interesting ways to communicate long before YouTube or even the Internet existed. (The Chinese Backstreet Boys doesn’t fit into this category.)

    *What is “participatory culture”?

    In its most literal form, this is user-generated content. It is also content where there is a mechanism to contribute, converse, or interact in some way. (Web 2.0 enabled)

    *What are some of the social networks you use and why do you use them?*

    I’m funny–I don’t actively use most of them although I am very intrigued by the use of them by others. One that I do use, which some may not consider a “social network” is amazon.com and similar transactional websites where the user has the ability to review, relate, and discuss music, books, and products. I also enjoy the well-chosen YouTube video, usually upon the recommendation of a friend. Fora.tv is excellent. And for business reasons, I respect the Facebook/MySpace need as that’s what “everyone” does for self promotion and marketing of themselves or their products. You must do it to be competitive.

    *How have technologies like sms/text messaging, youtube, and myspace changed the way that we interact?*
    Certainly, they have made connection quite easy. You’re going to be late? Send a text message. Mom, do you want to see photos of my new apartment? Check my MySpace page. And for businesses, marketing depts. actively study the online behaviors or their target demographic(s), and implement marketing components into these social networks.

    People also use electronic communication as an easy way out, when face to face or even voice communication is awkward, it has become acceptable in our culture to communicate digitally (the break up email/text message.)

    Comment by jenerationnyc | February 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. I find it interesting that television can be considered the most important information medium in our country. What about the internet? The beauty of YouTube is that it combines the two, and more–here you have television and film combining with the wonderful tool that is the internet. You have the ability to resurrect the past with the click of a button, and very little effort. It’s almost like an advanced VCR of everything you’ve ever wanted to see–just hit play and that episode of the Brady Bunch or a Presidential Debate from 1976 is suddenly there, on your screen, for *everyone* to see.

    Comment by sophiefriedman | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. Hi, all – Good points! Yes, at the heart of it, participatory culture, often a term associated with web 2.0, is about the collaborative creation and sharing of user-generated content — a bottom-up instead of a top-down approach, and a marked transition of consumers from having a passive to an active voice.

    Tracy – curious as to why you say “Myspace: Don’t use it.” I don’t use it either, as I’m more of a Facebook user myself. But wondering if there’s a particular aspect that turns you away from it. There’s an interesting article on Myspace vs Facebook class divisions – points out some insightful differences.

    Jeneration – re: Myspace and Facebook as

    what “everyone” does for self promotion and marketing of themselves or their products.

    Certainly, one has to be part of the network in order to be competitive, as you mentioned. However, I’d like to pose a different stance too. I often use my social networks for news as well as keeping up with connections. As many of my friends and colleagues are also involved in technology and/or the arts, I’ve found that becoming Facebook friends with them is often useful, not just for social or marketing reasons but for keeping up with relevant, industry-related news and events as well. Following people on twitter sometimes gives me breaking news because it’s so immediate. The sixth sense that you develop is pretty cool too. 😉

    Comment by funksoup | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hi all,
    I have to admit that I not sure if I can say what Henry Jenkins meant in “Youtube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture,” because I am having hard time locating the full text. All I get is the DIY websites and small excerpts and 1001 related links.
    As interesting as it is, I find this class a bit scattered and the little windows of opportunities I have to log in, I find myself caught up with things that are not directly connected with the class. I find the multiple logins to be a distraction and defeat the all idea about convergence. Yes, I suspect that delicious is supposed to consolidate the different vehicles. Unfortunately, I have not been able to log on to my delicious and multiple requests to verify my code ended with the message (an email have been sent to you- but it never arrives). I checked my Key-chain to verify my access code and it confirms what I thought I used. I have created a new one but I am a bit pissed that it is so. This is more of a confession about my personal dilemma, not a critic. I believe that coming to term with it will save this class for me.
    After saying all that, I do not find Youtube to be the fullest embodiment of convergence of culture because it is singularized by its sharing of video files and that alone. Yes, video itself is a multidisciplinary medium and in that sense one can say that it is a critical element in the field. Now there are other sites such as myspace that offers more. There, man can load up video and more. I believe the “more” gives it (them) a competitive edge against Youtube. Youtube has the advantage of being specific and the first “Hit” before the rest, but myspace has the advantage of learning and extrapolating from Youtube.
    In participatory culture, I hear a different type of way of dealing with social predispositions, a constantly evolving culture where what you believe only sticks as long as it is not challenged. If it is true that culture is a set of practices and rules informed by experience and the environment, then I find participatory culture- especially in the context of speedy information processing and dissemination, to be a threat to diversity and will eventually be a segregated culture. In segregation, I am concern about those have humanly contributed in what we are as people but do not have access. I know I will be chewed for this one but if it fuels an exciting debate, I am willing to reconsider.
    I, once, went to myspace, for a class research and within a day found friends I needed to hook up with but was no longer able to get in touch with. So I was thankful for that and joined. But now, every other day, I get these invitations to join a different group. I have to admit that I just feel a bit violated that each time I have to open an account and a piece of me is basically scattered in the system where the initiators are all out to make buck and your participation and profile is pimped to the highest bidder. I am not saying that it is evil but I am just tired of the multitudes of codes I have to submit.
    The convenience of text messaging and fast evolving technologies has certainly made us more knowledgeable but downright lazy, fatter and not necessarily smarter.

    Comment by diabel | February 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. I love how this book takes such a technological concept and turns it into thoughts and phrases anyone can understand. The concepts Mr. Jenkins discusses, whether it being the evolution of technology, or the creation of the universal black box, he turns an overwhelming, mind-boggling model into a theory not only understandable but also exciting.

    I really like how he talks about how the old idea of convergence is the merging of all devices into one central machine. This is still happening, I.E. The iPhone, yet it seems we had to get farther away from this by creating generic gadgets, that have a range of specialized features, to gain some understanding on how to make them all compatible with each other and decide which features best go together. It is also really interesting when you think about how you experience the information (through a blackberry on the street, or the mastering of a favorite videogame on the bus surrounded by strangers) and what role that plays when processing the data.

    Comment by jennstar13 | February 10, 2008 | Reply

  6. Diabel -Do not despair. It is normal that in the beginning of class, while everyone is getting used to the different interfaces by which we are communicating, that there is a period of adjustment. It will take a little bit of time to get used to it, but before you know it, you’ll be completely comfortable with it. It may seem divergent or “scattered” as you put it, but in fact, all these different interfaces and media channels, are exactly what convergence is about. I’ll create a longer post explicating this idea of transmedia convergence.

    You mentioned having problems finding the Jenkins readings; if you look in syllabus in the class wiki, you’ll see that one of the required texts, Convergence Culture is listed as one of the readings:

    Excerpt from Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006. “Introduction: ‘Worship at the Altar of Convergence.’ ” pp. 1-24.

    If you don’t have that required text yet, you can take a look at these short essays: “Media Convergence” and “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture”.

    In an attempt to make things a bit easier, I’ve listed all relevant class links on the blog. You’ll see under “Links” in the sidebar, that the Google group, class wiki, etc are listed.

    Regarding your login issues with del.icio.us, if you’re still having problems, email me and we can try to troubleshoot it.

    When you state that you find participatory culture to “be a threat to diversity and will eventually be a segregated culture” — this is quite a strong statement. Can you elaborate? Are you referring to the issue of the digital divide, wherein people’s access (or lack of access) separates them from the hegemonic online culture? If so, then I wouldn’t say that “participatory culture” is what you’re referring to as a threat, but the potential consequences of the digital divide, which is a different, but related issue.

    Jenn – yes, Jenkins is very accessible. Glad you are enjoying the writings. The blackbox phenomenon that you speak of (merging of all devices in one central machine), is interesting. It does seem that we would have less machines, yet if you look at it another way, we have more and more little black boxes too (DVR, tv, stereo components, iPod, phone, computer, digital camera, video cameras, etc). Then again, there is the merging of some of these as you mentioned, i.e., the iPhone and other smartphones.
    Indeed, the way one experiences information truly enframes the process, and this is something we’ll be talking about in more detail later as well.

    Comment by funksoup | February 10, 2008 | Reply

  7. On the Facebook vs Myspace issue…I think they both fall in the same category. I dont really have a need to use them. I find it time consuming and isolating. Instead of posting my daily events, likes and dislikes, I would prefer to pickup the phone or email. I think it all comes down to time and privacy.

    Comment by tra2008 | February 11, 2008 | Reply

  8. Facebook vs. MySpace: Josephine, the article you made note of in an above post–the study on class differences–was really interesting. The author had very organic approach to the study, which I found refreshing. http://www.danah.org/papers/essays/ClassDivisions.html

    I was not at all aware of the history and distinct differences between the two when they first launched and how they were perceived by high school and college student deomographics.

    Comment by jenerationnyc | February 13, 2008 | Reply

  9. Glad you liked that article. I really enjoy danah boyd’s writings because she does indeed have an organic approach to things and an interesting cultural ‘lens.’

    Comment by funksoup | February 16, 2008 | Reply


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