Societies and Convergences

By Kate Bell

Convergence is an elusive term that is often ambiguous in nature and is used in multiple contexts. However, in the 21st century it is becoming increasingly synonymous with the circulation of media content across a variety of platforms and technologies. According to Jenkins (2006, p.3), “convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content” [1]. However, it is important to recognise that despite this process in which new technologies are accommodated by existing media and communications industries and culture, the ongoing confrontation between old and new technologies is complex and multilayered (Dwyer, p.2) [2].

This concept is further discussed by The Guardian (2007, paragraph 4) in their review of David Edgerton’s 2007 book entitled ‘The Shock of the Old’. As the article states, invention is not the same as utilisation and that “the old will survive alongside the new and sometimes outlast it” [3]. This is further supported by Lister et al. (2009) who states that new media are simply ‘new’ in themselves and contrary to popular belief have no relation to any limits or shortcomings that are associated with ‘old’ media [4]. Rather, its ‘newness’ collided less with its invention or mass usage but instead its coverage through other mass media such as novels, films, television and advertisements. It is therefore important to understand that whilst the characteristics of new media are becoming increasingly evident in our society, there is no distinct separation between ‘old’ and ‘new’.

In an interview with Leigh Sales on ABC’s Lateline, author of a book called ‘Bad Ideas: An Arresting History of Our Inventions’ Lord Robert Winston also discusses the unintended consequences brought about by new technologies. Whilst he believes that there is an upside and downside to the majority of modern inventions, he states that at one level the Internet “is one of the most democratising influences in our society”. This, he believes, is largely due its capability of “supplying sedition, libel, violence, jihadism, pornography and so on” [5]. Whilst this may be an extremist view on the notion of convergence in the 21st century, it highlights the complexity of the homogenisation of communication networks the world over.

However, despite these common beliefs inherent in our society it is evident that participants worldwide are progressively looking for, finding and building relationships that are extended and supplemented by this notion of convergence. As Chakaveh and Bogen (2007) note, the development of multimedia services will not replace judgment value that is provided by traditional media and as such it will still have a large role to play in the new multimedia world. Moreover, the authors state that whilst multimedia has the potential to vastly increase the variety of services available, “new technology alone will not ensure success; it is the people who use it who will decide the future of multimedia” [6]. These include not only the wants and needs of the users, but also how we will manage the vast array of options available to us in the near future and whether or not we are willing to pay for the freedom of choice.


Comment 1:

By Amie Milton (N7200862)
Kate raises an interesting point when she says there is no distinct separation between 'old' and 'new' media forms. In my opinion the website below provides brilliant insight into this statement:

This website shows the difference in the two media worlds, old and new, in a manner different to regular analysis. It compares the people driven form of new media to the people dependent form of old media. Kate is correct in her statement that their is no distinct difference, but nonetheless, this website provides a unique insight that may be interesting to view.

Comment 2:

By Jae Moran (N7157266)
Kate raises an interesting point in her post highlighting the difference (or lack of) between new and old media. This caused me to investigate the effect of new media on traditional publishing. I did not have to look far to find evidence of the ways in which new media, and in particular social media, are revolutionising the publishing world.

The unlimited amount of personal choices in communication channels is having an effect on the potential traditional, mainstream media has to make a profit. Mass media traditionally rely on passive audiences who generally share a common location to generate profit. However, media convergence, the active audience and new media technology is drastically changing this global landscape.

The following articles provide an interesting perspective on this topic.




Comment 3:

By Wanda Rebolledo (N7181175)
Media convergence is an ongoing process; it will never reach an end [10]. While at this stage we can draw a somewhat clear line between old and new media, the definitions we have for each will not always stay the same. Think about it, at some point newspaper, radio, and old media where new, they in fact would have replaced several other mediums. It is just a cycle, in the future what we have now classified as new media will have been replaced by a newer media, and the cycle continues. There will never be one black box controlling all media, we are entering an era where media will be everywhere, and we will use all kinds of media in relation to one another [10].

Comment 4:

By Sarah Marris (N5122384)
Kate reflects on the notion that new media technologies themselves are not of a great importance, but rather the people using the new media technologies. I think this is an interesting point as it infers that although there is much digital evolution, and as a society of consumers and also new media producers, we are in fact, as a people, at the centre of it all. The technology is evolving but its success is, at the core, driven by us. The following article offers an interesting point on what will happen to the social networking site, Facebook, when the people run out?

References List

[1] Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.

[2] Dwyer, T. 2010. Media Convergence. Berkshire: Open University Press.

[3] The Guardian. 2007. The Shock of the Old. The Guardian, August 25. Accessed October 1, 2011.

[4] Lister, Martin, John Dovey, Seth Giddings, Iain Grant & Kieran Kelly. 2009. New Media: A Critical Introduction. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

[5] Sales, L. 2010. “All technology has an unintended downside”. On Lateline. ABC TV (broadcast April 12, 2010). Television program.

[6] Chakaveh, S. & Bogen, M. 2007. Media Convergence: An Introduction. Doi 10.1007/978-3-540-73110-8_88

[7] EXA News Update. 2010. “Print Media Decline: Why Papers Need to Adapt to The Internet.” Last modified December, 2010.
[8] Goldsborough, R. 2011. “New Versus Old Media.” Last modified October 5, 2011.
[9] Westphal, D. 2009. The Online Journalism Review. “Old Media vs. New Media: Let’s Call This One Off.” Last modified October 7, 2009.
[10] Jenkin, H. 2001. Convergence? I Diverge. Accessed October 6, 2011.