Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Section April 21st- Users and Convergence

One of the major insights of new media theory surrounds its questioning of the forms of producer/consumer in relation to not only digital economies, but traditional forms of media that are translated to a digital existence. In this field the subject of new or digital media is no longer a spectator or reader, but conceived in the paradoxical position of the user. The user as a category for theorizing those who consume new media is a paradoxical position because it calls into question the passivity of consumption.
In Jenkins piece, it is through convergence that we not only see a way in which old media emerge n the new, but "a change in the way media is produced and a change ijn the way media is consumed" (16). Speaking further to this Jenkins writes, "Convergence requires media companies to rethink old assumptions about what it means to consume media, assumptions that shape both programming and marketing decisions. If old consumers were assumed to be passive, the new consumers are active...[i]f the work of media consumers was once silent and invisible, the new consumers are now noisy and public" (18-19). Whereas the film spectator was silent in their seat in the house of disciplinary media, Jenkins calls us to rethink the new media or digital user as extremely visible.
One question I wish to bring to discussions is whether the users of digital technology especially surrounding the internet can always be thought of as "noisy" or visible because the media themselves are public? In a sense how are new media technologies always caught up in a process in which users become the producing consumers contributing not only their "free" or immaterial labor but to a collective knowledge. If this is the case then it requires us as Terranova suggests to question notions of the employment. Under this new form of consumption Terranova recognizes that "Often the unemployed are such only in name, in reality being the life-blood of the difficult economy of 'under-the-table,' badly paid work, some of which also goes into the new media industry" (46). Not only does such a formulation question the binary of producer/consumer in relation to the media but to the economy at large forcing us to ask if such a binary is even possible in our control society.

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