Notes for Henry Jenkins Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
Key concepts: adhocracy, blogging, collective intelligence, consumption communities, digital native, digitization, knowledge communities, monitorial citizen, shared knowledge.
At the core of convergence culture, the ontological status of collective intelligence seems focused on human groups, representing a mutation of the unary, expert knowledge of liberal humanist subject, recalling Lyotard's point that for modernist science the receiver does not matter, to which, through texts and technology, media studies, and embodied cognitive science, the inhuman (thinking of Lyotard), machine, technological, cyborg components, are brought into scope as well.
Related theorists: Duncombe, Feenberg, Habermas, Lessig, Lévy, Manovich, Negroponte.
“Worship at the Altar of Convergence”
A New Paradigm for Understanding Media Change
(2) 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 interact in unpredictable ways.
(2) This book is about the relationship between three concepts – media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence.
Focus is on cultural shift in consumer behavior rather than functions of technological devices.
(3) I will argue here against the idea that convergence should be understood primarily as a technological process bringing together multiple media functions within the same devices. Instead, convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content.
At the core of convergence culture, the ontological status of collective intelligence seems focused on human groups, representing a mutation of the unary, expert knowledge of liberal humanist subject, recalling Lyotard point that for modernist science the receiver does not matter, to which, through texts and technology, media studies, and embodied cognitive science, the inhuman (thinking of Lyotard), machine, technological, cyborg components, are brought into scope as well.
Jenkins names collective intelligence the collective process involving humans collaborating along with information technologies, together consuming and creating knowledge.
(4) Consumption has become a collective process – and that's what this book means by collective intelligence, a term coined by French cyberneticist Pierre Lévy. None of us can know everything; each of us knows something; and we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skills.
Prophet of Convergence
(10) If Wired magazine declared Marshall McLuhan the patron saint of the digital revolution, we might well describe the late MIT political scientist Ithiel de Sola Pool as the prophet of media convergence. Pool's Technologies of Freedom (1983) was probably the first book to lay out the concept of convergence as a force of change within the media industries.
(11) New media technologies enabled the same content to flow through many different channels and assume many different forms at the point of reception. Pool was describing what Nicholas Negroponte calls the transformation of “atoms into bytes” or digitization.
(12) I want to describe some of the ways that convergence thinking is reshaping American popular culture and, in particular, the ways it is impacting the relationship between media audiences, producers, and content.
(12) The world of media fandom has been a central theme of my work for almost two decades – an interest that emerges from my own participation within various fan communities as much as it does from my intellectual interests as a media scholar.
The Black Box Fallacy
Good distinction between delivery technologies and media.
(13) Delivery technologies become obsolete and get replaced: media, on the other hand, evolve. Recorded sound is the media. CDs, MP3 files, and 8-track cassettes are delivery technologies.
Compare this position based on Gitelman two levels to how Sterne articulates media.
(13-14) To define media, let's turn to historian Lisa Gitelman, who
offers a model of media that works on two levels: on the first, a
medium is a technology that enables communication; on the second, a
medium is a set of associated “protocols” or social and cultural
practices that have grown up around that technology. Delivery systems
are simply and only technologies; media are also cultural
(14-15) Much contemporary discourse about convergence starts and ends with what I call the Black Box Fallacy. . . . Part of what makes the black box concept a fallacy is that it reduces media change to technological change and strips aside the cultural levels we are considering here.
(15) The perpetual tangle of cords that stands between me and my “home entertainment” center reflects the degree of incompatibility and dysfunction that exist between the various media technologies.
(15-16) Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres, and audiences. Convergence alters the logic by which media industries operate and by which media consumers process news and entertainment. Keep this in mind: convergence refers to a process, not an endpoint. There will be no single black box that controls the flow of media into our homes.
(16) Fueling this technological convergence is a shift in patterns of media ownership. Whereas old Hollywood focused on cinema, the new media conglomerates have controlling interests across the entire entertainment industry.
(16) In turn, media convergence impacts the way we consume media.
Cultural Logic of Media Convergence
(17) Entertainment content isn't the only thing that flows across multiple media platforms. Our lives, relationships, memories, fantasies, desires also flow across media channels.
(17-18) The American media environment is now being shaped by two seemingly contradictory trands: on the one hand, new media technologies have lowered production and distribution costs, expanded the range of available delivery channels, and enabled consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content in powerful new ways. At the same time, there has been an alarming concentration of the ownership of mainstream commercial media, with a small handful of multinational media conglomerates dominating all sectors of the entertainment industry.
(18) Convergence, as we can see, is both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom-up consumer-driven process.
(18) Convergence requires media companies to rethink old assumptions about what it means to consume media, assumptions that shape both programming and marketing decisions.
(19) Extension, synergy, and franchising are pushing media industries to embrace convergence. For that reason, the case studies I selected for this book deal with some of the most successful franchises in recent media history. Some (American Idol, 2002, and Survivor, 2000) originate on television, some (The Matrix, 1999, Star Wars, 1977) on the big screen, some as book (Harry Potter, 1998), and some as games (The Sims, 2000), but each extends outward from its originating medium to influence many other sites of cultural production.
(19-20) Chapter 1, which focuses on Survivor, and chapter 2, which centers on American Idol, look at the phenomenon of reality television. . . . Survivor spoiling will be read here as a particularly vivid example of collective intelligence at work.
(20) On the other hand, chapter 2 examines American Idol from the perspective of the media industry, trying to understand how reality television is being shaped by what I call “affective economics.”
(20) Strikingly, in both cases, relations between producers and consumers are breaking down as consumers seek to act upon the invitation to participate in the life of the franchises.
(20-21) Chapter 3 examines The Matrix franchise as an example of what I am calling transmedia storytelling. . . . Transmedia storytelling is the art of world making. To fully experience any fictional world, consumers must assume the role of hunters and gatherers, chasing down bits of the story across media channels, comparing notes with each other via online discussion groups, and collaborating to ensure that everyone who invests time and effort will come away with a richer entertainment experience.
(21) Chapter 4 deals with Star Wars fan filmmakers and gamers, who are actively reshaping George Lucas's mythology to satisfy their own fantasies and desires. Fan cultures will be understood here as a revitalization of the old folk culture process in response to the content of mass culture. Chapter 5 deals with young Harry Potter fans who are writing their own stories about Hogwarts and its students. In both cases, these grassroots artists are finding themselves in conflict with commercial media producers who want to exert greater control over their intellectual property.
(21) Chapter 5 extends this focus on the politics of participation to consider two specific struggles over Harry Potter: the conflicting interests between Harry Potter fans an Warner Bros., the studio that acquired the film rights to J. K. Rowling's books and teachers who have seen them as a means of encouraging young readers.
(22) Chapter 6 will turn from popular culture to public culture, applying my ideas about convergence to offer a perspective on the 2004 American presidential campaign, exploring what it might take to make democracy more participatory.
(22-23) convergence culture represents a shift in the ways we think about our relations to media, that we are making that shift first through our relations with popular culture, but that the skills we acquire through play may have implications for how we learn, work, participate in the political process, and connect with other people around the world.
Another narrative that takes surface enjoyment of postmodernism over depth for granted, yet offering more degrees of freedom due to the interaction between consumers and producers.
(23) Increasingly, the digital divide is giving way to concern about
the participation gap. . . . As long as the focus remains on access,
reform remains focused on technologies; as soon as we begin to talk
about participation, the emphasis shifts to cultural protocols and
(23) Most of the people depicted in this book are early adopters. In this country they are disproportionately white, male, middle class, and college educated. . . . These elite consumers exert a disproportionate influence on media culture in part because advertisers and media producers are so eager to attract and hold their attention. Where they go, the media industry is apt to follow; where the media industry goes, these consumers are apt to be found. Right now, both are chasing their own tails.
The Anatomy of a Knowledge Community
(25) Survivor is television for the Internet age—designed to be discussed, dissected, debated, predicted, and critiqued.
Spoiling as Collective Intelligence
Of emergent cyberspace knowledge, collective intelligence in producer knowledge communities, such as within Sourceforge, enact Linus Law that given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow, solving technical problems; from consumer orientation its consequence is political action upon media producers.
(26-27) On the Internet, Pierre Lévy argues, people harness their individual expertise toward shared goals and objectives: “No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity.” . . . And this organization of audiences into what Lévy calls knowledge communities allows them to exert a greater aggregate power in their negotiations with media producers. . . . He suggests, however, that collective intelligence will gradually alter the ways commodity culture operates.
Difference between collective intelligence and shared knowledge articulated by Levy.
(27) Lévy draws a distinction between shared knowledge, information that is believed to be true and held in common by the entire group, and collective intelligence, the sum total of information held individually by the members of the group that can be accessed in response to a specific question.
Compare Levy to Feenberg, suggesting that while essential to democratic citizenship, consumer-oriented knowledge communities, even when spoiling the government rather than television networks, are suboptimal in comparison to producer developer communities, because expert paradigm restricts critique whereas well organized, distributed production can leverage many well-informed dilettantes (OGorman).
(28-29) We are experimenting with new
kinds of knowledge that emerge in cyberspace. Out of such play,
Pierre Lévy believes, new kinds of political power will emerge which
will operate alongside and sometimes directly challenge the hegemony
of the nation-state of the economic might of corporate capitalism.
Lévy sees such knowledge communities as central to the task of
restoring democratic citizenship.
(29) Imagine the kinds of information these fans could collect, if they sought to spoil the government rather than the networks. . . . I would argue that one reason more Americans do not participate in public debates is that our normal ways of thinking and talking about politics require us to buy into what we will discuss later in this chapter as the expert paradigm: to play the game, you have to become a policy wonk, or, more accurately, you have to let a policy wonk do your thinking for you.
Images from Space
No moral judgment on collective intelligence hacking email.
(36) Sometimes, it takes a little effort. The Ellipsis Brain Trust tracked down the name of the person who designed the CBS Survivor Web site, hacked into their hotmail account, and found a single entry, a list of URLs that were to be acquired immediately, sixteen in all, each bearing the name of a man or a woman. (There are sixteen contestants on each series of Survivor.) From there, the members of the EBT divided the listed names and began to investigate to see if they were real people.
(38) One question Lévy never fully addresses is the scale on which these knowledge communities may operate.
Evil Pecker and His Minions
(48) [Mark] Burnett like to talk about Survivor as a psychological experiment to see how people would react under extreme circumstances. Was he also playing an experiment with his audience to watch how an information society would respond to misdirection?
Intelligence and the Expert Paradigm
(52) We might understand this dispute in terms of the distinction between Pierre Lévy's notion of collective intelligence and what Peter Walsh has described as “the expert paradigm.” . . . The expert paradigm requires a bounded body of knowledge, which an individual can master.
(53) Second, Walsh argues that the expert paradigm creates an “exterior” and “interior”; there are some people who know things and others who don't.
(53) Third, the expert paradigm, Walsh argues, uses rules about how you access and process information, rules that are established through traditional disciplines. By contrast, the strength and weakness of a collective intelligence is that it is disorderly, undisciplined, and unruly.
Expert paradigm versus collective intelligence for knowledge communities important for comparing notions of subjectivity; cathedral versus bazaar for software development fits.
Interesting point about totalitarian dimension potential, like a dishonest merchant in the bazaar compared to the lawfulness of the superstore.
(54) Fourth, Walsh's experts are credentialized.
(55) Lévy speaks about knowledge communities in terms of their democratic operations; yet the ability for any member to dump information out there without regard to anyone else's preferences holds a deeply totalitarian dimension.
Can fetishism of sourced information instead of puzzle-solving cleverness also serve as an indicator of post-postmodern subjectivity?
Spoiling—at least within Survivor
now moved decisively from a game of puzzle-solving to one based on
revelation of sourced information.
(56) As spoiling has moved more and more into the public eye, it has moved from a fun game that Mark Burnett occasionally liked to play with a small segment of his audience to a serious threat to the relationship he wanted to construct with the mass audience of his series.
(57-58) Yet, fans also exploited convergence to create their own points of contact. They were looking for ways to prolong their pleasurable engagement with a favorite program, and they were drawn toward the collaborative production and evaluation of knowledge.
Buying into American Idol
How We Are Being Sold on Reality Television
(59) Who would have predicted that reality television series, such as Survivor (2000) and American Idol (2002), would turn out to be the first killer application of media convergence—the big new thing that demonstrated the power the lies at the intersection between old and new media?
Lovemarks and Emotional Capital
Zappers, Casuals, and Loyals
Talk among Yourselves!
How Gossip Fuels Convergence
Contesting the Vote
Searching for the Origami Unicorn
The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling
What Is the Matrix?
The Art of World-Making
Quentin Tarantion's Star Wars?
Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry
Folk Culture, Mass Culture, Convergence Culture
“Dude, We're Gonna Be Jedi!”
“The 500-Pound Wookiee”
Design Your Own Galaxy
Where Do We Go from Here?
Why Heather Can Write
Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars
Hogwarts and All
Defense against Dark Arts
Muggles for Harry Potter
What Would Jesus Do with Harry Potter?
Photoshop for Democracy
The New Relationship between Politics and Popular Culture
(217) Who would have imagined that Donald Trump could emerge as a populist spokesman, or that sympathetic images of corporate control could fuel a movement to reclaim democracy? A curious mix of cynicism and optimism, the video made Democrats laugh at the current administration and then rally to transform it.
Viral marketing is just-in-time.
(217-218) Interviewed a few weeks before the election, Garrett LoPorto, a senior creative consultant for True Majority, said that the core of viral marketing is getting the right idea into the right hands at the right time. . . . True Majority's goal was to get these ideas into the broadest possible circulation. To do that, they sought to create images that are vivid, memorable, and evocative. And most important, the content had to be consistent with what people more or less already believed about the world.
Collective intelligence powered monitorial citizen replaces individualized informed citizen.
(219) In each case, entrenched institutions are taking their models from grassroots fan communities, reinventing themselves for an era of media convergence and collective intelligence. So why not apply those same lessons to presidential politics? . . . What they are talking about is a shift in the public's role in the political process, bringing the realm of political discourse closer to the everyday life experiences of citizens; what they are talking about is changing the ways people think about community and power so that they are able to mobilize collective intelligence to transform governance; and what they are talking about is a shift from the individualized conception of the informed citizen toward the collaborative concept of a monitorial citizen.
Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
(222) Trippi celebrates what he sees as the “empowerment age” when average citizens challenge the power of entrenched institutions: “If information is power, then this new technology—which is the first to evenly distribute information—is really distributing power.”
(222) The new political culture—just like the new popular culture—reflects the pull and tug of these two media systems: one broadcast and commercial, the other narrowcast and grassroots. New ideas and alternative perspectives are more likely to emerge in the digital environment, but the mainstream media will be monitoring those channels, looking for content to co-opt and circulate.
(223) If we focus on the technology, the battle will be lost before we even begin to fight. We need to confront the social, cultural, and political protocols that surround the technology and define how it will get used.
Culture jamming versus blogging reflects movement from revolutionary digital culture paradigm, for example Negativland, to convergence culture.
(225) We might understand the transition by thinking a bit about the
difference between “culture jamming,” a political tactic that
reflected the logic of the digital revolution, and blogging, which
seems emblematic of convergence culture.
(226) The old rhetoric of opposition and co-optation assumed a world where consumers had little direct power to shape media content and faced enormous barriers to entry into the marketplace, whereas the new digital environment expands the scope and reach of consumer activities.
Grassroots convergence essence of blogging as summarizing and linking rather than traditional authorship; measure this idealization to current Facebook posting during recent election.
The term “blog” is short for Weblog, a new form of personal and
subcultural grassroots expression involving summarizing and linking
to other sites. In effect, blogging
is a form of grassroots convergence.
By pooling their information and tapping grassroots expertise, by
debating evidence and scrutinizing all available information, and,
perhaps, most powerfully, by challenging one another's assumptions,
the blogging community is “spoiling” the American
(229) In publishing their talking points about Edwards on the Web, the GOP was not so much trying to spin the story as to give the public a tool kit they could use to spin it themselves in their conversations with friends and neighbors.
Fans, Consumers, Citizens
(231) Many bloggers explicitly define themselves in opposition to mainstream media and what they see as its corporately controlled content. A second prehisotry, however, takes us through efforts of fans to connect online and to exert their combined influence to protect their favorite shows.
(231-232) Activists, fans, and parodists of all stripes are using the popular graphics software package Photoshop to appropriate and manipulate images to make a political statement. Such images might be seen as the grassroots equivalent of political cartoons—the attempt to encapsulate topical concerns in a powerful image.
Image texts as important to citizenship as letters to the editor: Ulmer connection.
Yet, I would also suggest that crystallizing one's political
perspectives into a photomontage that is intended for broader
circulation is no less an act of citizenship then writing a letter to
the editor or a local newspaper that may or may not actually print
it. For a growing number of young Americans, images (or more
precisely the combination of words and images) may represent as
important a set of rhetorical resources and texts. . . . What
changes, however, is the degree to which amateurs are able to insert
their images and thoughts into the political process—and in at
least some cases, these images can circulate broadly and reach a
(233-234) A politics based on consumption can represent a dead end when consumerism substitutes for citizenship (the old cliché of voting with our dollars), but it may represent a powerful force when striking back economically at core institutions can directly impact their power and influence.
the Monitorial Citizen
(235) Does making politics into a kind of popular culture allow consumers to apply fan expertise to their civic responsibilities? Parody newscasts like The Daily Show (1996) may be teaching us to do just that.
(235) Pew showed that young people were getting information from entertainment media instead of news media.
(236) Comedy Central offered more hours of coverage of the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions than ABC, CBS, and NBC combined: the news media was walking away from historical responsibilities, and popular culture was taking its pedagogical potential more seriously.
(237) Instead, he [Michael Schudson] argues, “Monitorial citizens tend to be defensive rather than pro-active. . . . The monitorial citizen engages in environmental surveillance more than information-gathering. Picture parents watching small children at the community pool. They are not gathering information; they are keeping an eye on the scene. They look inactive, but they are poised for action if action is required. The monitorial citizen is not an absentee citizen but watchful, even while he or she is doing something else.”
(237-238) One might see Schudson's monitorial citizen as a participant in the kind of knowledge culture Lévy described—knowledgeable in some areas, somewhat aware of others, operating in a context of mutual trust and shared resources. . . . The Daily Show consistently focuses attention on issues badly covered through the mainstream media, ensuring that they register on the radar of many monitorial citizens.
Monitorial citizen practices active surveillance, and spoof media trains active hashing of competing accounts for news discovery.
(238) The Daily Show's mix of spoof segments with interviews with actual public figures demands an active and alert viewer to shift through the distinctions between fact and fantasy. Such a program provides a good training ground for monitorial citizens. . . . From the start, The Daily Show challenges viewers to look for signs of fabrication, and it consistently spoofs the conventions of traditional journalism and the corporate control of the media. Such shows pose questions rather than offering answers. In such spaces, news is something to be discovered through active hashing through of competing accounts rather than something to be digested from authoritative sources.
Playing Politics in Alphaville
Tie playing with power on microlevel in games to Gee learning principles.
If we want to get young people to vote, we have to start earlier,
changing the process by which they are socialized into citizenship.
If what [David] Buckingham
is true, then one way that popular culture can enable a more engaged
citizenry is by allowing people to play
with power on a microlevel,
to exert control over imaginary worlds. Here again, popular culture
may be preparing the way for a more meaningful public culture; in
this case, the most compelling example comes from the world of video
games. Let's consider what happened in Alphaville, one of the oldest
and most densely populated towns in The
a massively multiplayer version of the most successful game franchise
of all time.
(240) On one level, some adults might still prefer engagement in student government elections because it represents action at the local level—actions that have real-world consequences. This is a classic critique of online communities—that they don't matter because they are not face-to-face. From another perspective, children have more opportunities to exert leadership and influence the actions of online worlds than they every enjoyed in their high school governments. After all, it wasn't as if schools gave students much real power to change their everyday environments.
(241) Reading through the reader responses in the Alphaville Herald, it is clear that, for many, the stolen election forced them to ask some fundamental questions about the nature of democracy.
(242) However much they represent themselves as civic experiments, massively multiplayer game worlds are, like the shopping malls, commercial spaces. We should be concerned about what happens to free speech in a corporate-controlled environment, where the profit motive can undo any decision made by the citizenry and where the company can pull the plug whenever sales figures warrant.
(243) When something breaks in a knowledge culture, the impulse is to figure out how to fix it, because a knowledge culture empowers its members to identify problems and pose solutions. If we learn to do this through our play, perhaps we can learn to extend those experiences into actual political culture.
(245) What happens next? Precisely because these efforts were linked so closely to a particular election, they treated political participation as a special event and not yet part of our everyday lives. The next step is to think of democratic citizenship as a lifestyle.
Achievable utopia through extending practices developed through play to actual political culture, and people also seem willing consider alternative positions when stakes are lower, such as discussing popular culture; relate to my learning programming achievable utopia.
Pierre Lévy proposes what he calls an “achievable utopia”: he
asks us to imagine what would happen when the sharing of knowledge
and the exercise of grassroots power become normative.
(247) We vote naked not in the sense that we feel an intimate engagement with politics but in the sense that we feel raw, exposed, and vulnerable.
(248) [quoting Salon technology columnist Andrew Leonard] What I find disturbing, however, is how easy the internet has made it not just to Google the fact that I need when I need it, but to get the mindset I want when I want it.
(249) The reason why Lévy was optimistic that the emergence of a knowledge-based culture would enhance democracy and global understanding was that it would model new protocols for interacting across our differences. Of course, those protocols do not emerge spontaneously as an inevitable consequence of technological change. They will emerge through experimentation and conscious effort.
(249-250) Popular culture allows us to entertain alternative framings in part because the stakes are lower, because our viewing commitments don't carry the same weight as our choices at the ballot box. Our willingness to step outside ideological enclaves may be greatest when we are talking about what kind of person Harry Potter is going to grow up to be or what kind of world will emerge as the machines and humans learn to work together in The Matrix (1999). That is, we may be able to talk across our differences if we find commonalities through our fantasies. This is in the end another reason why popular culture matters politically—because it doesn't seem to be about politics at all.
Democratizing Television? The Politics of Participation
(251) The Internet opened a floodgate for young people, whose passions are finally being heard, but TV hasn't followed suit.
(251-252) The idea of reader-moderated news content is not new. . . . Yet, this would be the first time that something like the Slashdot model was being applied to television.
Cable news network Current demonstrates trouble with television as pedagogical tool implicit in Ulmer Applied Grammatology mitigated by Internet, which is only one of four senses of democratization Jenkins enumerates; BBC example frees broadcast content and meta-information for mashup, and contrast position Lessig depicts concerning copyrighted media, also whether Feenberg makes such differentiations.
Was Current going to be democratic in its content (focusing on the
kinds of information that a democratic society needs to function),
its effects (mobilizing young people to participate more fully in the
democratic process), its values (fostering rational discourse and a
stronger sense of social contract), or its process (expanding access
to the means of media production and distribution)?
(253) The network defended itself as a work in progress—one that was doing what it could to democratize a medium while working under market conditions.
(253-254) By 2005, the BBC was digitizing large segments of its archive and making the streaming content available via the Web. The BBC was also encouraging grassroots experimentation with ways to annotate and index these materials. Current's path led from the Web—where many could share what they created—into broadcast media, where many could consume what a few had created. The BBC efforts were moving in the other direction, opening up television content to the more participatory impulses shaping digital culture.
Compare paradigm shift of convergence to Ulmer AG shift; consciousness changes whether the public pushes for more participation or settles into new modes of consumption, noting emphasis on collective changes rather than individual.
(254) Rather, convergence represents a paradigm shift—a move from medium-specific content toward content that flows across multiple media channels, toward the increased interdependence of communications systems, toward multiple ways of accessing media content, and toward ever more complex relations between top-down corporate media and bottom-up participatory culture. . . . Yet, whatever its motivations, convergence is changing the ways in which media industries operate and the ways average people think about their relation to media. . . . The question is whether the public is ready to push for greater participation or willing to settle for the same old relations to mass media.
Ong open systems, Feenberg examples of unintended uses by consumers.
(255) No sooner is a new technology—say, Google Maps—released to the public than diverse grassroots communities begin to tinker with it, expanding its functionality, hacking its code, and pushing it into a more participatory direction.
From individual to collective, networked consumption practices.
(255) Betsy Frank and other industry thinkers still tend to emphasize changes that are occurring within individuals, whereas this book's argument is that the greatest changes are occurring within consumption communities. The biggest change may be the shift from individualized and personalized media consumption toward consumption as a networked practice.
Extend communal media to communal experience of software in general in the built environment.
(256) Rather than talking about personal media, perhaps we should be talking about communal media—media that become part of our lives as members of communities, whether experienced face-to-face at the most local level or over the Net.
Sources of political effects through emergence of collective intelligence and participatory culture in addition to circulating new ideas and more data.
(257) Just as studying fan culture
helped us to understand the innovations that occur on the fringes of
the media industry, we may also want to look at the structures of fan
communities as showing us new ways of thinking about citizenship and
collaboration. The political effects of these fan communities come
not simply through the production and circulation of new ideas (the
critical reading of favorite texts) but also through access to new
social structures (collective intelligence) and new models of
cultural production (participatory culture).
(258) But pointing to those opportunities for change is not enough in and of itself. One must also identify the various barriers that block the realization of those possibilities and look for ways to route around them. . . . Rather, we should read these case studies as demonstrations of what it is possible to do in the context of convergence culture.
Apply critical utopian versus critical pessimist distinction to software studies, focusing on empowerment versus victimization; old complaints about evil empire replaced with transformative potential of free software, open protocols, and open standards, and need to capitalize on window of opportunity rather than battling conglomerates exclusively, for which Jenkins enumerates actionable tasks. This is part of the significance of my work.
(258-259) Critical pessimists, such as
media critics Mark Crispin Miller, Noam Chomsky, and Robert
McChesney, focus primarily on the obstacles to achieving a more
democratic society. . . . The politics of critical utopianism is
founded on a notion of empowerment; the politics of critical
pessimism on a politics of victimization. One focuses on what we are
doing with media, the other on what media is doing to us.
(259) Put all of our efforts into battling the conglomerates and this window of opportunity will have passed. That is why it is so important to fight against the corporate copyright regime, to argue against censorship and moral panic that would pathologize these emerging forms of participation, to publicize the best practices of these online communities, to expand access and participation to groups that are otherwise being left behind, and to promote forms of media literacy education that help all children to develop the skills needed to become full participants in their culture.
(260) A politics of participation starts from the assumption that we may have greater collective bargaining power if we form consumption communities.
(260) The Sequential Tarts represents a new kind of consumer advocacy group—one that seeks to diversify content and make mass media more responsive to its consumers.
Adhocracies substitute for mature knowledge culture: compare Ellis Global Frequency Network to Ulmer EmerAgency.
(261) We still do not have any models
for what a mature, fully realized knowledge culture would look like.
But popular culture may provide us with prototypes. A case in point
is Warren Ellis's comic-book series, Global Frequency.
Set in the near future, Global Frequency depicts
a multiracial, multinational organization of ordinary people who
contribute their services on an ad hoc basis.
(262) Other writers, such as science fiction writer Cory Doctorow, describe such groups as “adhocracies.”
(263) [quoting John Rogers] “While Warner Bros. Entertainment values feedback from consumers, copyright infringement is not a productive way to try to influence corporate decision.” . . . Rogers's comments invite us to imagine a time when small niches of consumers who are willing to commit their money to a cause might ensure the production of a minority-interest program.
Kickstarter funded minority-interest content production: replay PC revolution with widespread programming education and early free software dominance as a science fiction guided by critical utopianism.
(263) If [“Long Tail” Chris]
Anderson is right, then niche-content stands a much better chance of
turning a profit than ever before.
(264) It was the announcement that ABC-Disney was going to be offering recent episodes of cult television series (such as Lost and Desperate Housewives) for purchase and download via the Apple Music Store that really took these discussions to the next level.
Nod to open source software with Wikipedia example as adhocracy exemplar.
(265) If one wants to see a real-world example of something like the
Global Frequency Network, take a look at Wikipedia—a grassroots,
multinational effort to build a free encyclopedia on the Internet
written collaboratively from an army of volunteers, working in
roughly two hundred different languages. So far, adhocracy principles
have been embraced by the open-source movement, where software
engineers worldwide collaborate on projects for the common good. The
Wikipedia project represents the application of these open-source
principles to the production and management of knowledge.
(265) Some worry that the encyclopedia will contain much inaccurate information, but the Wikipedia community, at its best, functions as a self-correcting adhocracy. Any knowledge that gets posted can and most likely will be revised and corrected by other readers.
(266) The Wikipedia project has found it necessary to develop both a politics and an ethics—a set of community norms—about knowledge sharing.
(266-267) We might think of fan fiction communities as the literary equivalent of the Wikipedia: around any given media property, writers are constructing a range of different interpretations that get expressed through stories. Sharing of these stories opens up new possibilities in the text. . . . Fans reject the idea of a definitive version produced, authorized, and regulated by some media conglomerate. Instead, fans envision a world where all of us can participate in the creation and circulation of central cultural myths.
(267) Concentrated power is apt to remain concentrated. But we will see adhocracy principles applied to more and more different kinds of projects.
(268) The power of participation comes not from destroying commercial culture but from writing over it, modding it, amending it, expanding it, adding greater diversity of perspective, and then recirculating it, feeding it back into the mainstream media.
(269) The challenge is to rethink our understanding of the First Amendment to recognize this expanded opportunity to participate. We should thus regard those things that block participation—whether commercial or governmental—as important obstacles to route around if we are going to “democratize television” or any other aspect of our culture.
(269) Another core obstacle might be described as the participation gap.
Participation characteristics of monitorial citizen.
(269) The participation gap becomes much more important as we think about what it would mean to foster the skills and knowledge needed by monitorial citizens: here, the challenge is not simply being able to read and write, but being able to participate in the deliberations over what issues matter, what knowledge counts, and what ways of knowing command authority and respect.
Cultural producers need media literacy education.
(270) As I finish writing this book, my own focus is increasingly being drawn toward the importance of media literacy eduction. . . . We need to rethink the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as cultural producers and participants and not simply as consumers, critical or otherwise.
Reflections on Politics in the Age of YouTube
Example of applying analytical method to specific, politically significant historical event.
(272) In this afterword, I will use the Snowman controversy as a point of entry for a broader investigation into the role of Internet parody during the pre-primary season in the 2008 presidential campaign. . . . By studying YouTube as a site of civic discourse, I want to better understand how convergence, collective intelligence, and participatory culture are impacting the political process.
Blossom vs. The Obamatar
(274) Rather than displacing old media, what I call convergence culture is shaped by increased contact and collaboration between established and emerging media institutions, expansion of the number of players producing and circulating media, and the flow of content across multiple platforms and networks.
(275) Metaphors from genetics or virology still carry with them notions of culture as self-replicating or infectious, whereas thinking of YouTube content as spreadable focuses attention on both properties of texts and the activities of participants.
The Power to Negate and the Power to Marginalize
The Birth of a Snowman
Suggests the media made a spectacle of characters asking debate questions that deflected collective interest from the candidates responses to legitimate concerns of the public electing them.
A range of public controversies are erupting around the terms of our
participation—struggles over intellectual property and file
sharing, legal battles between media producers and fans, conflicts
between web 2.0 companies and the communities they serve, or
disagreements over the nature of citizen participation in televised
debates. . . . What “pissed off” anonymousAmerican at CNN was the
way the debates had raised expectations of greater citizen
participation and then offered up a high-tech version of America's
Funniest Home Videos.
(280) Over just a few weeks, the Hamel brother progressed from sophomoric skit comedy to progressively more savvy interventions into media politics, demonstrating a growing understanding of how media travels through YouTube and how YouTube intersects broadcast media.
(282) Parody represents one important mode for networking mass media materials for alternative purposes. . . . Here, the Mac/PC template invites us to comparison shop for presidential candidates, creating new persons who dramatize the differences between the two major parties and the consequences of their politices.
Parody in High Places
(284) Playing on a Walter Lippman phrase brought back into public awareness through Noam Chomsky's critique of propaganda (Manufacturing Consent), [In Dream: Re-imaging Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, Stephen] Duncombe calls on progressives to learn new strategies for “manufacturing dissent.”
(284) As YouTube's cultural visibility has increased, more activists have adopted True Majority's “serious fun” approach, making parody videos as a more playful and pleasurable mode of political discourse.
Short term tactical alliances between disparate groups energize popular media phenomena like elections and movie releases.
(285) Media producers with different motives—governmental agencies, activist groups, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, fan communities—operate side by side, using the same production tools and distribution networks. YouTube constitutes a shared portal through which these diverse groups come together to circulate media content and learn from each other's practices. In this shared distribution space, short-term tactical alliances between such groups are commonplace.
Fake grassroots media quintessential postmodern simulacra.
(286-287) This hybrid media environment and the active circulation of content beyond its points of origin make it hard to tell where any given video is coming from—in both the literal and the metaphoric sense. Increasingly, we are seeing fake grassroots media being produced by powerful institutions or economic interests—what has become known as “Astroturf.”
Parody as Pedagogy
Media practices of digital natives still subject to critical analysis, preferably in context of critical participation discussing by Gee, analysis coming from well trained digital emigrants similar to that of deep ethnography.
Often, these playful tactics get described in terms of the need to
adopt new rhetorical practices to reach the so-called digital
a generation of young people who have grown up in a world where the
affordances of participatory media technologies have been
commonplace. . . . Young people are finding their voice through their
play with popular culture and then deploying it through their
participation in public service projects or various political
(289) Duncombe has argued that news comedy shows, such as The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, foster a kind of civic literacy, teaching viewers to ask skeptical questions about core political values and the rhetorical process that embodies them.
Downsides of Digital Democracy
(290) An open platform does not necessarily ensure diversity.
Open platforms do not ensure diversity nor ideal Habermasian public debate.
(291) To put it mildly, the user comments posted on YouTube fall for
short of Habermasian ideals of the public sphere, as we suggested by
one blogger's parody of the CNN/YouTube debates.
(291) In an election whose candidates include women, African Americans and Hispanics, Catholics and Mormons, groups which have historically been underrepresented in American political life, online parody often embraces racist, sexist, and xenophobic humor, which further discourages minority participation or conversations across ideological differences.
(293) Democracy has always been a messy business: the politics of parody offers us no easy way out, yet it does offer us a chance to rewrite the rules and transform the language through which our civic life is conducted.
Downsides of digital democracy juxtaposed with achievable utopia seem a crossing for software studies and especially CCS, with respect to media, to discern detailed features of specific open platforms, as as distinctions among licenses and copyright notices that make things free and open; recall Manovich distinction between cultural and technological aesthetics.
(293-294) Too often, we have fallen into the trap of seeing democracy as an “inevitable” outcome of technological change rather than as something which we need to fight to achieve with every tool at our disposal. . . . If we are to move towards what Pierre Lévy called an “achievable utopia,” we must continue to ask hard questions about the practices and institutions which are taking their place. We need to be attentive to the ethical dimensions by which we are generating knowledge, producing culture, and engaging in politics together.
Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006. Print.