To converge means to come together towards a central point. So how does it apply to media?
Imagine a black hole, where the centre is technology, the driving force behind the convergent media. This internet fuelled vacuum is sucking all of our media from across the solar system towards it. Everything is in the process of being crushed into a big ball of media mass in the centre of the black hole. Elements of the media are changing shape, sharing elements with each other, and everything is in one grey area.
Because media is becoming centralised, it is very convenient to consume.
We can wake up in the morning and catch up on everything from one device, whether it be a laptop, phone or even smartwatch, we can access news, social media, music, podcasts or pretty much anything. It seems more productive, but we rely too heavily on it? What would happen we couldn’t access it? I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
Because media consumption is now so easy, and there is so much out there to be consumed, media audiences have been given free rein to choose what we consume, when we consume it and how we consume it. Part of the reason we have to choose from this smorgasbord of media, is that developments in technology have given audiences access to production means.
Producers and audiences have now morphed together into produsers – a term coined by media scholar Henry Jenkins. They have the ability to create their own content, and are doing so at an exponential rate. Whether it be a small piece of fan art/tribute, or an episodic series funded by a crowdsourcing website, produsers are at the forefront of innovation, as they are not limited in creative control like traditional producers were. However, this bonus control is a mixed blessing for audiences, as there is no quality requirements or regulations in place, unlike in traditional media.
Media industries have morphed with the changes convergence is bringing, and will continue to adapt. Traditional media companies are embracing changes, with certain TV shows like Q&A incorporating Twitter feeds into their broadcasts. News outlets use social media monitoring to find upcoming stories. Legacy media industries (newspapers, TV, etc.) still exist, but their influence and role are changing as the convergence black hole draws everything closer.
The traditional lines of media are blurring – we took the ingredients, threw them in the bowl and mixed. While we might have had a Venn diagram before, now we have a giant multi-dimensional mess. Who knows what we might end up with next?