The world of communication is at the centre of a profound and radical change: the phone, as we used to know for years, is no longer the phone. Newspapers are not just newspapers, television is no longer the television and even the computers soon will not be just the computer.
The digitization of communication is carrying incredible developments in the distribution platforms of content and in the use we do of these contents. Motor of this evolution is the phenomenon of convergence. What is it? Technically, convergence is the combination of several tools of communication, a merger made possible by digital technology. Each medium is not intended to carry a single type of performance, but is able to distribute different content (photography, radio, telephone conversations, television, music). Convergence means using a single interface (the computer, for example) and many information services, i.e. go from watching a TV series to a banking transaction, from reading a newspaper surveyed by a corner of the house. However, convergence also means that the future of communication is something that goes far beyond communication.
The convergence of media, therefore, is not only a technological process, or marked by technology. To move away from this vision too naive and fallacious, Henry Jenkins has coined the term “convergent culture”: an attitude culture that encourages users to interact with content, to create connections between different texts, to use the increasingly less technologies as tools to communicate and increasingly as a new territory to explore. Baffy the Vampire Slayer, for example, is a television drama of success, but also a complex cultural experience that takes different forms in different media: CDs, books, movies, blogs, objects, and so on.
“For some time the content is distributed across multiple media. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had 7 seasons of the television drama and 8 comic book series. Today a narrative is dispersed across multiple channels to create a single, coordinated entertainment experience to which each media is contributing”. (H. Jenkins, 2012)
Given the importance and pervasiveness of the media in contemporary society, and the fact that the media are not only simple prosthetic, but rather environments in which we are immersed, the current change is totally cultural.
Written by Nardos Maffia
Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.