Jenkins’ confession of an aca/fan

Jenkins’ question

 

For me, reading this book is a mesmerizing voyage, during which the mysteries of new media ambiance in the economic, technological, industrial, social, and cultural contexts have been unveiled.

Jenkins’ definition of “convergence” is much more complex and far beyond the unsophisticated understanding of the intersection of media technologies. As Jenkins proclaims, convergence culture, for him, is where new media and old ones collide, grassroots and corporate media intersect, media producers and consumers interact in unpredictable ways (2). In his definition, convergence is happening more on a macro level. The convergent tendency of media has invited a large range of participation and interaction to modern media creation and distribution. Convergence culture represents a shift in the citizen’s relationship to media. Jenkins uses this definition to challenge the old idea of convergence, and calls it “the black box fallacy” (14). Why do you think “the black box theory” is a fallacy?

In some parts of this book (or maybe, one could say throughout this book), Jenkins seems to praise convergence—the discourse of blurring boundaries, disciplines, and the roles of participants in media communication—as a way to improve society and the market. Is this an optimistic point of view? Or say, does Convergence Culture merely present an ultimate utopian stance? Is Jenkins’ enthusiasm for grassroots culture (especially the influence of his fan experience on his opinions toward fan culture) making this book as a whole valueless for media criticism?

Do you think some of the fan activities depicted in this book are, as some critics put it, vaguely pathetic, unhealthy, and reflecting all the worst aspects of human nature? As possessing tremendously interests in the fandom area, I feel a bit furious when hearing people talking about fan culture sarcastically. Topics in this book, like the bottom-up power to turn over co-optation, the media literacy, the knowledge community and collective intelligence to gather, circulate, and challenge information, are staggeringly remarkable for further legitimizing fandom to a “formal” culture and “real” academic area. (I believe, Jenkins’ previous publications already did so.)

 

Personally speaking, I don’t think Jenkins only holds optimistic opinions. In this book, he does mention the weakness of collective intelligence is disorderly, undisciplined, and unruly (53). However, as he argues, it is also the strength of collective intelligence. The participatory paradigm, as Jenkins describes, seems providing a double-win or even a triple-win possibility for media producer, consumers, and the entertainment industry. On the other hand, he also points out that the uncontrolled fluidity of media content in this paradigm sometimes acts as a double-edged sword.

Admittedly, he does not focus on any further in-depth discussion of the negative side of the circulation of information and these participatory activities in this new media system, like the high chance of offering fragmented culture, or the so-called “divergent” trends as Grusin contends. I think, here, Jenkins is attempting to argue against some blatant pessimistic ideas by presenting the positive aspect of the increased participation in popular culture (247-249). He does believe that there would be uncertainty upon the roles media corporations, media producers, and consumers could play in this dynamic. And like he explains, divergence and convergence act as two sides of the same phenomenon (10).

This book, at the very least, successfully makes a significant point: to make our criticism more applicable to today’s media culture, we have to understand clearly what happens during the negotiation and participation in the age of media convergence. I would totally agree if someone calls Jenkins’ standpoint is critical utopianism (247).

 

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