Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wed. Section: Who's at the Bottom? Who's at the Top?

I was so interested in Jenkins’ article entitled, “Introduction: ‘Worship at the Altar of Convergence.” I was going to talk at length about how culture is altered and mediated by technological advances and convergences, but then, I happened upon this paragraph and I became a little self-righteous:

“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 people who have mastered the skills needed to fully participate in these new knowledge cultures. I don’t assume that these cultural practices will remain the same as we broaden access and participation. In fact, expanding participation necessarily sparks further change. Yet, right now, our best window into convergence culture comes from looking at the experience of these early settlers and first inhabitants. 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.

You are now entering convergence culture. It is not a surprise that we are not yet ready to cope with its complexities and contradictions. We need to find ways to negotiate the changes taking place. No one group can control access and participation” (23).

First, I want to commend Jenkins for even bringing this up. I feel like most theorists gloss over the dominance of privileged groups on consumption, production, and the breach/conversation between the two.

In section, I think I would really like to unpack the above citation, in particular, the role of race/privilege in new media (and in relation to the statement I made above). I think it would be interesting to see how unprivileged groups consume new media and how they are (un)able to influence the production of new technologies and/or convergences. I’d just like to investigate how new media simply functioning as a system of oppression. Or is it? Or what is at stake with these privileged males being the most influential in the production/consumption of new media? And how are unprivileged groups interacting with these new technologies? How are they demanding a right to participate within the culture?

An anecdote that I’d like to share is while I was in Chajul, Guatemala (a rural area populated by primarily by people of indigenous Mayan descent), the only technology I saw was a TV in their homes. Many families saved up a lot of money so they could buy a TV. They would live in houses with dirt floors and only one big room… and usually only a couple of beds that would serve as the sleeping place for a fairly large family. But inside, they would have one light, and then one TV. And the TV that was available in Chajul was very interesting – it would be very mainstream. The only program I remember distinctly was that the movie, The Hulk, played frequently. I am still struggling with this image and how I can place it in this theory or reconcile my various thoughts about this… Here are families that have never been farther than 10km from Chajul, Guatemala, seen a building over three stories… and they are seeing all the sky-scrapers and various technologies in the movie…. without any type of way to participate in that culture or that media consumption.


On a completely different note, I think it might be interesting to see how people have used media to further their societal/cultural roles. This is pretty embarrassing, but my mom sometimes does stand-up comedy … and in one of her sketches, she makes of me and announces herself as stalker mom, stalker e-mom. And she talks about how she can facebook stalk me etc etc.

And she also makes fun of me because one time, I was pretty nervous about a pimple I had on [I can tell you exactly where if you really want to know, but I think I’ll spare the Internet at large] I’ve had MRSA three times, and MRSA is super serious! So what I did was I opened Skype and asked my Mom if it looked like MRSA or if it was normal…. I just think this is just simply absurd… and it wasn’t MRSA.

I think it would be interesting to see how we have performed various tasks that once we would have been impossible to do not in real life, but now with this new technology, we can do it miles away. And I don’t just mean, “Instant Message […] from the other side of the globe” (17). In particular, I’d like to focus on societal, cultural, and familial roles.


I also want to investigate and problematize the idea that the “single black box” and how Jenkins doesn’t think there ever will be just ONE. I want to investigate what new media objects seem to not be compatible… and why? On both a technological-sense, but more in a simply functionality-sense. I think I like that my phone could be an ipod, a camera, a phone, web-browser, a gaming device… but I think I’d rather my computer to watch a movie or write an email because I want to see the movie and I am a faster typist on a keyboard and feel more at ease with the space on the monitor. Just like we haven’t made a table that can also turn into a bed, but we have made tables that can be easily made into bigger tables…. What technologies MAKE SENSE to be converged and what DON’T? And WHY?


And I also want to talk about how American culture is being affected by new media convergences. And maybe it is beneficial if we don't concern ourselves with the question: how it is both a bottom-up and top-down industry… but rather, WHO is at top and WHO is at the bottom?

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