This week in my DH class we read some of Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture. While I agree with most of what Jenkins talked about, I also found some parts that were problematic for me.
His example of buying a cell phone while receiving attitude and rolled eyes for asking for something that only made calls is not a ridiculous request – there are in fact many people who only use their phones for that reason. In fact, my parents (who have contracts with AT&T) just recently decided to finally get smartphones. My grandmother, who is also on our plan, still uses a flip phone. While we still have the ability to use text messaging, you are not forced to use it at all. Same with phones that are equipped to access the internet. There are apps there to use if you want, but no one is forcing you to. There are not hundreds of confusing buttons either. Really, if my grandma can figure it out, I’m sure Jenkins can.
I get the point that his example was to show how much cell phones are important to media convergence. On the other hand, yes, many people also use their phone for texting, emailing, watching videos, and keeping up with their social networking sites. But the way he acted like he was the only one in the world who needed a phone that only made calls rubbed me the wrong way.
I do agree with his statements under The Black Box Fallacy part of this essay. The hardware we use to access all of our different kinds of media is diverging – going in new and different directions. At the same time, the content we access with said hardware is converging. Because of this, we as consumers are forced to buy many different kinds of “black boxes.” Some do one thing, and some do another. But we need to have access to it all! However, I agree with Jenkins when he says there is no definite answer to the black box problem. It will continue to change over time, and we will be introduced to more and more black boxes that promise us to do newer things.
Jenkins ultimately never gives us an answer to convergence – it simply is an ongoing process that is messy and shifts from one thing to another. It is controlled by companies and consumers. It is all types of media and communication.