Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday 11am Section

“It only does everything.” That is what Sony marketing executives have to say about their Playstation 3. And while many people, Communications Professor Henry Jenkins included, would argue that such a claim is not only false but entirely impossible, the numerous functions of the system are impressive to say the least. Sony's machine “only” reads the newest and most popular movie discs (Blu-Ray), plays the newest and most visually astounding video games (PS3 games), allows users to watch youtube, check their facebook, and browse the internet, among other functions. Prior to the Playstation 3, Sony's line of game consoles had been just that—a line of game consoles. Their functionality had been limited almost exclusively to playing video games. But their newest product illustrates the growing trend of convergence in media.
Certainly, the Playstation 3 is not the only example of media convergence, nor is it the ultimate example. Everywhere people go, media is becoming relevant and significant across multiple platforms. The term convergence itself, in Henry Jenkins' mind, refers to “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences” (Jenkins 2). Jenkins' three part definition can be easily illustrated by the recent efforts made by The company, which earns money by selling domain names, airs brief, misleadingly risque ads that end with a message: go to to see the rest of the ad. This method is occasionally successful, and results in the viewers seeing the coordinated effort between two platforms to communicate the company's message.
Convergence, though, does not end at just a definition. As content flows across various media, “consumers are encouraged to make connections” (Jenkins 3). Obviously it is impossible for one person to know everything or make every connection. However, everybody knows something. As a result of this incomplete personal knowledge, a collective intelligence is formed. That means that the bits and pieces of information possessed by multitudes of people are pooled to add up to a more complete whole. The richness of information in media helps to stimulate a desire for discussion, which in turn generates a buzz surrounding the content. Therefore, collective intelligence serves as an alternative form of media power (Jenkins 7). This leads to an important point of convergence—it takes place in brains, not appliances. As the crossover takes place in people's minds while discussing information, they piece things together and begin to contribute in there own way.

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