Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jenkins, convergence S 03

What interests me most about convergence is the way that it redefines the term consumer. When we are surfing the internet or even watching a television show via the web we are interacting with that television show in a way that makes us not only a consumer but also a producer. We are encouraged to contribute to comment pages or blogs about the shows we are watching. We are encourages to rate them, star them etc. We are even encountered with instances where our television characters themselves become consumers and producers at once, as in, when a television character (as many do from the Office or Barney from How I Met Your Bother) has a blog that exists within the same webpage that you are using to view the television show, regardless of who is actually the writer of that blog, they have had to use, or consume, a program created by somebody else in order to create that blog. Therefore, they have too become consumers. We are encountered with instances where we assume to be producers, where we are creating something like fan art but instead we act as free advertising for the very same thing we are assuming to produce. Then comes such problems as copy right laws and how they aid and harm certain industries. I recall reading that the show South Park when it started had very lenient copyright laws to enable consumers to duplicate parody and recreate the show. This gave the consumers a sense of control and they felt as if they were part of that show they were watching. This boosted rating and when the show boomed they were forced to enforce harsher laws to protect the show, and enable it to bring in more revenue. In this way, the sense of control that was created for the consumer was in a way a ploy to get to get them to tune in more, and therefore it was not control at all, and they were not producers at all. Rather, they were reproducers and everything they produced was somehow owned by, or lead back to the original conglomerate that created that which they are consuming. This also makes me think of such sharing sites as Youtube, where if a video has enough hits or if a character is popular enough, it brings the attention of the larger media owners to it, and eventually and for enough money, they can own that idea that at first was in the name of an individual consumer/producer.
Jenkins talks a lot about what it means to converge. He seems to say that convergence is a state of mind. That convergence occurs in our mind as much as it does in our appliances.Convergence, to him seems to be a positive movement forward. It is a way for old media to meet new media and for old media to find a new meaning to new audiences. Like the theater that becomes elitist or the comics that become specific to certian audiences. He says that the difference between old media and new media is that new media is interactive. It gives us the chance to create a collective memory and it deceneralizes media. but i wonder if this is actually a good thing because this means that we start to hold the position of consumer/producer. We are using programs in order to produce material that is then put into another program through which the owners generate revenue through advertising; therefore we as producers are free labor ( even if it is a labor of love). Or we create content, whilst watching a video that tells us how to produce content. Or we begin to expect to be able to produce and consume at the same time, or to consume different things all at once. We begin to expect to be able to have our music on our computer, ipod and phone. We begin to expect to be able to take a picture with our phone and send it to a friend. The incident that he first mentions about the “Bert is Evil” problem that Sesame Street had just seems absurd and yet so normal. We are faced with these kinds of things everyday now with our convergence culture.
This kind of humor is normal, if not hilarious. When a show like Family Guy parodies a song or a clip from a film, are they in danger of being sued? What about a person who parodies a clip and posts it on Youtube? If anything they are generating more buzz for whatever it is they are parodying. It is free labor. The other thing that has come out of convergence that I am fascinated with is Viral Advertising it is by far the best thing that advertisers have ever done. Viral advertising is produced by a “producer” but is read like it is produced by a producer/consumer. It is everywhere and it is created in a way that it converges with our culture, our habits, our needs, our wants and goes unnoticed as advertising, but is rather enjoyed as a form of entertainment.

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