Question: How does convergence affect the relationship between media technologies and audiences?
Convergence is defined as: ‘the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted’ (Jenkins 2006). Convergence has affected media technologies and its audience in both positive and negative ways. Looking at the change of involvement social media has created – the use of social networks for multiple purposes has brought the next generation of users to an era of convergence. Explored through the social platform YouTube this essay will explore the creation of YouTube and social media through convergence, discuss the negative aspects of communication by audiences such as ‘trolls’, ‘trolling’ and ‘flaming’ regarding social media and looking at the aspect of social media brought into the workforce.
The increasing development of technology has allowed YouTube to become an important aspect in the change of today’s user produced, user developed and user consumed media era. Highlighted by the change of the internet from monologic media – one directional consumption of media (creator to consumer), to dialogic – omnidirectional production and consumption of media. YouTube has changed how we view the world by being a main source of research – being the 2nd biggest search engine in the world, exploration – getting involved with other cultures, entertainment – user created content about anything for anyone and revolutionizing entertainment – broadcasting live performances of music and being a source for movies and television shows and education – being a place of research and knowledge with tutorials, guides, walk through, let’s plays and lectures. YouTube has been utilized by its audience and created a place off convergence (O’Neill, M 2010)
The effect of convergence on the audience regarding social media has an obscure effect on the communication that is produced on social media. Looking from an anthropological angle social media has become an everyday part of people’s life, creating a change in cultural identity. This change of cultural identity is driven by the excessive use of social media – created from the idea of convergence. The user produced, user distributed, social interactions that social media creates goes beyond national identities, to create a global culture – a sort of globalization. This global network tears down the oppression from powerful governments and leaders to become a collective voice. With this global identity there is an issue that deals with the individuals that are culturally sensitive, that ignores or adverts from media in general and would rather be isolated. Indicating the intent of convergence on social platforms distinguishes between the cultures that social media is trying to get involved with but the clash of freedom that comes with the access of social media (Coleman, EG 2010).
It is not just the user generated and user created content that converges with social media it is the idea that old forms of media get recreated and reused to become re-established and reaffirm that they are still relevant for people of today – such as books and newspapers. There has become a large amount of user empowerment with access and participation surrounding media technologies on the internet. There is the opportunity to learn the skills needed to create content on the internet, shown by the internet – creating this circular process where an individual engages with what they create and with what others create and passes down that knowledge to others who would like to learn (Croteau, D 2007).
Convergence creates a dilemma with the social interactions that would not have taken place thanks to computer-mediated communication. This way of communicating through social media produces a number of issues that are prevalent in today’s society. Looking at the changes from face-to-face communication to computer-mediated communication there is the obvious loss of emotional signals – the tone/pitch, gestures, movements are gone. The idea of a personal interaction is replaced by computer representation of people’s voices which change/distort the sound. These ideas of convergence dealing with media platforms that are specific to the integration of voice lose the personality and emotional responsibility that people have when talking face-to-face. This loss of emotional observation leads into a loss of empathy and compassion for when dealing with impersonal conversations over the internet. There is a loss of empathy and obligation towards the person that someone talks to, highlighting the way for trolling/flaming and potentially cyber-bullying. This area off convergence has affected the emotional strings that attach people together and the way that they form bonds from face-to-face interaction (Derks, D 2008).
Mentioning the loss of emotional attachment and empathy when dealing with computer-mediated communication – comes flaming. The simple idea of causing trouble by insulting, being annoying, being off topic, just to get a response from other people. The presence of flaming has been relevant to all social networking sites particularly sites which allows commenting. The creation of social media through convergence mixed with the anonymity the internet creates for its users and the emotional detachment that is presented creates this problem of people offending others for most likely their own enjoyment. The presence of flaming on social media does indicate freedom of speech but does bring into question the morality and ethical idea of what should be done about people who do troll/flame that goes beyond the idea of ‘just venting’. It could also be said that the interpretation of what would be considered trolling/flaming is left to the interpretation of the person that created it, the person that read it and the person that it was aimed for (publisher – content that was commented on) (Moor, PJ 2010).
To contrast the creation of flaming by convergence and social media I will explain the defence and evidence about bullying and cyber-bullying. Convergence allows the combination of multiple elements of the internet to become a singular identity such as YouTube. YouTube is then a good source for showing those who are vulnerable and irritable, particularly when it comes to abusive videos being uploaded to YouTube. When observing video of people being bullied, we are given a clear example as to the situations that both affect the person in the video being bullied and also the people that watch the video. There is a great influence on whether the information on what is filmed should be allowed for public viewing – on YouTube and other social sharing sites. This impacts the control of what should be shown on certain mediums. There are restrictions when it comes to obvious destination of the internet for particular viewing – such as porn. However when it comes to the confines of YouTube and their terms and conditions that should control what is on certain sites (Conley, B 2013).
The violence that is present on YouTube (fighting/bullying videos), when it hits mainstream media becomes a serious story. When the videos deal with serious issues such as murder then there becomes an obscure line between the prosecutions of the person who committed the murder. This is due to the influence the media has on people that cause bias and possible agendas of the people that watch – if the trial doesn’t convict then the public would take it into their own hand and condemn the person involved. This is highlighted most recently by the Boston Bombings and the use of 4chan/Reddit being a minute-by-minute description of what is happening but also with all of the footage taken by cameras there will be the civilian involvement where the ordinary person gets involved with something they shouldn’t. Convergence of media has faded the line in which people separate police work and civilian involvement (Swienton, AR 2012)
The uploading of content for YouTube and other social networks creates an online attraction that can – if successful, by having a significant amount of visitors, lead to a paid employment opportunity. Through three steps of Production, Sharing and Transfer people can utilize the creation of social media paid employment. Convergence has opened up the doors for people to produce and consume what they want – a participatory culture, where people can go one step further and create their own work and re-create other people’s work. Taking the audience from consumers to prosumers – production and consumers combined. This result from convergence creates communities and jobs that emphasize what the internet and social media is about (Park, J 2010).
The impersonal approach social media has to offer restricts aspects of running a business that caters to customer service and satisfaction. There is also the topic of workflow in the workforce, when does being on social media change from work related to personal. It is quite contrary to think that there are no aspects of business that doesn’t rely on social media, because social media is the best way to be noticed. This emphasizes the point that the internet and social media has impacted everyday life in ways where we can’t go back to how it was before (Veenswyk, M 2013).
Convergence does affect the relationship between the audience and media technology in both positive and negative ways. Through the introduction of convergence on media platforms the audience has a larger opportunity to create and share their own creations while at any time being a part of something bigger than just them-self – such as a community from YouTube. Convergence does impact on the communication that once was from face-to-face to computer-mediated communication, creating the troll and flaming of users, or seen as a way to vent because of a lack of face-to-face interaction. The audience is free to do what they want, free from oppression and has become more than just having a national identity but a global identity.
Conley, B 2013,’Devono says YouTube case under review’, Tribune Business News, 24January
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Derks, D Fischer, AH and Bos, AER 2008, ‘the role of emotion in computer-mediated communication: A review’, Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 26, pp. 766-785
Jenkins, H 2006, Welcome to Convergent Culture http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html June 19th 2006, accessed June 6th 2013
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O’Neill, M 2010,’5 Ways YouTube has Changed the World forever’, Social Times, review, 8 November, viewed 1 May 2013
Park, J and Van Der Schaar, M 2012,’A Game Theoretic Analysis of Incentives in Content Production and Sharing Over Peer-to-Peer Networks’, IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Signal Processing, vol. 4, no. 4 pp. 704-717
Swienton, AR and Upshaw-Downs, JC 2012,’Ethics in Media’, in Swienton, AR and Upshaw-Downs, JC (ed.), Ethics in forensic Science, Elsevier, USA, pp. 425 – 440
Veenswyk, M 2013,’Social Media: the workflow challenge’, Digital Marketing Blog, weblog post, 13 March, viewed 1 May 2013, econsultancy.com/au/blog/62204-social-media-the-workflow-challenge