Sunday, December 1, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

In order to understand the future of Convergence Culture and it's impact on society, we must first look at where 

we are and how we have evolved as a society with the tools that have been provided to us. 

What is Convergence Culture?

"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." (Jenkins, 3) 
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Where is Convergence Going and How do we get there?

The internet is a major player in how we relate as a society, a term that can be used to describe the way we are relating to each other through media is an "adhocracy" 
"The polar opposite of a bureaucracy, an adhocracy is an organization characterized by a lack of hierarchy. In it each person contributes to confronting a particular problem as needed based on his or her knowledge and abilities, and leadership roles shift as tasks change. An adhocracy, thus is a knowledge culture that turns information into action" (Jenkins, 263)

Convergence is a merging of traditional media and new media in an effort to better reach a larger audience and relay information in a different way. 

In the video above titled "How cognitive surplus will change the world" Clay Shirky delves into the idea of how we can use our shared
knowledge to change the way we use the media. Like the term adhocracy describes the internet allows us to 
democratize information. Shirky used the site Ushahidi as an example. Ushahidi is described as "An open source project which allows users to crowdsource crisis information to be sent via mobile." The crux of the site is in it's ability to monitor real life events, trends and information and relaying it to people, the site also offers services that help other companies tap into their demographic and how they receive information, and in turn use this to offer guidance on how their clients can best launch and implement their technology to meet their intended impact. Ushahidi basically monitors the way people use the media is catering to their needs. Like Al Gore tried to do with Current, Ushahidi is a collaborative effort, sites like Ushahidi and Reddit have the lines blurred between the media consumer and producer. 

It is a given that the way that we communicate and share information has and will continue changing, but we must also come to terms that the information we might be assimilating is also changing. Steven Johnson, the author of Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today's Pop Culture is actually making us smarter says his book is "The story of how the kind of thinking that I was doing on my bedroom floor became an everyday component of mass entertainment. It's the story of how systems analysis, probability theory, pattern recognition, and — amazingly enough — old-fashioned patience became indispensable tools for anyone trying to make sense of modern pop culture." 
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Jane McGonigal discusses the integration of the thought process behind gaming into our real life situations and how this can speed up our developmental process. McGonigal argues that gaming teaches us firsthand how interactivity works, she also introduces something she calls "The Epic Win" this is the motivation that gamers channel into their virtual reality and how it really is a testament to their resilience and if only we could incorporate this into our real lives. Like Johnson, McGonigal talks about using certain skill sets that video games teach us in real life situations and how gaming might actually bring out the best in us, as opposed to what most people think.

This might all sound new to someone who hasn't been observing or participating in the way the changes, but we must realize that convergence is taking us to a different place. A place where information will not flow from the top to bottom anymore, but will be a participatory effort between everyone, education will also not be relegated to such rigid standards as they are now, children and adults alike will be able to study the world in real (or virtual) time, and apply what they have learnt in practical situations. The future of convergence is not certain, but what is certain is that whatever it is, we will all be a part of it. 

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