Recently, we’ve discussed how new media such as DVR and web streaming has taken eyes away from television commercials. Our class has observed and commented on several techniques advertisers use to get around this trend of less people viewing television ads. One thing we did not really talk about is what Henry Jenkins calls “loyals.” In Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Jenkins writes, “Loyals are more apt to watch series faithfully, more apt to pay attention to advertising, and more apt to buy products” (63). Since Jenkins wrote this, DVR has become much more popular and many people get TV series from Netflix or download them from iTunes. But more potential branding sites such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved and been developed. Do you think Jenkins’ argument pertaining to loyals and advertising consumption gained or lost credibility in the four-to-five years since Convergence Culture was published? Why?
Jenkins sees convergence culture and participatory culture as a revolution of a new means of strengthening personal bonds, collective intelligence, and a democratic voice. He mentions these things in his first chapter with the Survivor spoiler groups (29) and throughout the book to his conclusion that references Al Gore’s news network Current. Jenkins views participatory culture as a potential ground for intellectual growth. Individual ideas bounce around in the bubble of message boards, fan fiction sites etc. and create a collective intelligence that enhances the minds of the individuals. In the conclusion, Jenkins admits there are commercial interests involved in convergence culture that could undermine its endless potential. He suggests, “We are in a critical moment of transition” (243). More than just economics are at play here though. Can’t these message boards and fan fiction sites be used to tear people apart? Who is to say hate groups won’t infiltrate the minds of children by creating their own Harry Potter fan fiction sites to subtly proliferate their agendas? Perhaps this sounds like moral panic, but the truth likely lies somewhere between Jenkins’ view and the moral panic view. What do you think are the pros and cons of the different types of participatory cultures Jenkins writes about in Convergence Culture?