Monday, December 3, 2012

Post 4 - Future of Convergence

To speculate on what the future of convergence may be, we must first discuss what convergence has become today. The mass convergence of the many different types of media, media outlets, new technology and the rapidly accelerating speed of our daily lives has grown so exponentially in recent years that it’s truly hard to predict what will happen in the next five anymore. Based on experience, we can assume that all things media and technology will continue to converge together more and more – possibly to the point of redundancy?
As it is, the convergence of these things is already causing them to overlap in ways that can sometimes be overwhelming. For example: the tweet from a friend that contains an imbedded Instagram photo which is simultaneously linked to Facebook with your name tagged in it so that you get not only separate e-mails (to your iPhone and PC of course) from both Facebook and Twitter, but also Instagram notifications within the app itself AND as special pop-ups on your phone…  And don’t get me started on what happens when people start <3 “Liking” this ONE post. I just got tired writing that. Did you get tired reading it? Because that can and does seriously happen in a matter of seconds depending on how many media sites you are connected to which have figured out ways to converge together. As Jenkins illustrates, while convergence creates ways of selling brand loyalty and other seemingly harmless ploys (or subliminal messages), it also shamelessly exploits the advantages of media conglomerates.

(Ever feel like you only see these icons all day long?)

On another note, these kinds of convergence are NOT – usually not, actually - always bad things. The convergence of, for example, a radio station informing listeners of what keywords to #hashtag on Twitter via iPhone or Android in order to view more shared information online during Hurricane Sandy was incredibly beneficial. Social media websites like Facebook also provided outlets for normal, everyday people to share information that can help others without having to go through a more professional – and often harder to reach – medium like a TV station, newspaper, et cetera. These opportunities to connect have become invaluable in our new era of technology, and will continue to develop, and find ways to be even better over time.
In terms of popular culture and politics, the same framework applies. It has become so much easier to learn about and discuss political candidates with others, show your support through many media mediums, and join in with causes that you feel strongly about in this day and age as opposed to the past. Actual lawmakers and politicians are getting more involved with actual people through newly-available means in the past decade. Being able to read tweeted quotes from a national debate or tweets from your President’s twitter accounts at any time of day or night – that’s a positive part of our new culture and politics. Also, the public has a voice that can get very loud, so there is more accountability today. All throughout our recent presidential campaign and leading up to last month's election, we saw an overwhelming amount of politics on TV, in newspapers, on the radio, and online; from polling results that are taken very seriously, to more humorous articles like this one: 

The intersection of technology and storytelling is also interesting. Simply put, the Internet allows for anyone and everyone to be a storyteller. Where we used to walk to one another’s offices or pick up the phone, we shoot emails and texts. Instead of saving your stories to share with your loved one at the end of a work day, you post them on your blog for the world to see. This is also good and bad. It’s great that there are outlets for being to express themselves artistically or emotionally without being published in a book or magazine. However, journalistic integrity and what used to be considered “proper” writing form, are getting lost in translation.
How can we approach the future with our knowledge of the past and our contemporary experiences? It would be wise to approach the future with both the past and the present in mind. With new developments and advances in our lives we’re taught lessons to learn from and remember in the future.
·      What do we forsee and expect?
We’ve learned in our readings to expect our children to learn faster due to the new technologies available – faster than they already are, which is fast! We should expect to see children who play video games to develop enhanced problem solving skills and possibly save the world. We should expect that by bringing math and reading games into the classroom, kids will be more eager to “play”/learn.
·      How should we prepare / what should we think about?
We should remember that everything will continue to change and be adapted to over and over again. “We are living in a world where changes in communication, storytelling, and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life – including how we create, consume, learn and interact with one another.” (Jenkins)
We should learn from mistakes that were originally overlooked when certain technologies were new and rules were not made; things that should not happen anymore, like cyber bullying leading to drastic measures.
Clearly, this class has taught us that no matter what the ever-changing future of media looks like, anyone who wants to can “get in the game.”

As Jane McGonigal reminds us, "We have to make our own happiness—by working hard at activities that provide their own rewards."

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