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Convergence Culture


Almost 10 years ago, Henry Jenkins wrote about the rise of transmedia in his book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. In 2015, Henry's white iPod classic may be outdated, but his content is truer than ever.

Check out the excerpt below.

“By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted. Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes, depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about. In the world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms. Right now, convergence culture is getting defined top-down by decisions being made in corporate boardrooms and bottom-up by decisions made in teenagers’ bedrooms. It is shaped by the desires of media conglomerates to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want….

This circulation of media content – across different media systems, competing media economies, and national borders – depends heavily on the active participation of the consumer. I will argue here against the idea that convergence can be understood primarily as a technological process – the bringing together of multiple media functions within the same gadgets and devices. Instead, I want to argue that convergence represents a shift in cultural logic, whereby consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections between dispersed media content. The term, participatory culture, is intended to contrast with older notions of media spectatorship. In this emerging media system, what might traditionally be understood as media producers and consumers are transformed into participants who are expected to interact with each other according to a new set of rules which none of us fully understands. Convergence does not occur through media appliances – however sophisticated they may become. Convergence occurs within the brains of individual consumers. Yet, each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information we have extracted from the ongoing flow of media around us and transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives.

In a culture which some have described according to information overload, it is impossible for any one of us to hold all of the relevant pieces of information in our heads at the same time. Because there is more information out there on any given topic than we can store in our heads, there is an added incentive for us to talk amongst ourselves about the media we consume. This conversation creates buzz and accelerates the circulation of media content Consumption has become a collective process and that’s what I mean in this book by collective intelligence. None of us can know everything; each of us knows something; we can put the pieces together if we pool our resources and combine our skills…. Collective intelligence can be seen as an alternative source of media power. We are learning how to use that power through our day to day interactions within convergence culture. Right now, we are mostly using collective power through our recreational life, but it has implications at all levels of our culture. In this book, I will explore how the play of collective meaning-making within popular culture is starting to change the ways religion, education, law, politics, advertising, and even the military operate.”

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York and London: New York University Press, 2006. Print.

Buy the book here.

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