Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Convergence Culture: Who's Left Out?

     "Worship at the Altar of Convergence" by Jenkins, discusses the phenomenon of convergence in today's world. In Jenkin's opinion, "the idea that convergence should be understood primarily as a technological process bringing together multiple media functions within the same devices", is false (3). Instead, he argues that "convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content" (3). To Jenkins, convergence changes more than simply the physical devices and the electrical wires that we interact with to deliver our media. Instead, convergence changes the culture, the social interaction, and the way that we as individuals and as a group view technology and media as citizens of this world. 
     But, Jenkins brings up an interesting point that highlights the fact that convergence often excludes many individuals. He states that "not all consumers have access to the skills and resources needed to be full participants in the cultural practices" that he is describing (23). Individuals in war torn countries, regions plagued with poverty, and many others, do not have access to basic human necessities much less sophisticated technology. This discrepancy between individuals' access to technology is known as the "digital divide" and the discrepancy between engaging with technology is called the "participation gap" (23). With technology improving at a rate faster than the average individual can keep up with, how does someone in a 3rd world country compete? Globalization has brought the world together in so many ways in regards to politics, society, and the economy... but has it also torn it apart? Has globalization and the advent of new and exciting technologies only further widened the digital divide and participation gap in today's society? 
    With campaigns such as "One Laptop per Child", "Toms", and countless other organizations devoted to helping those less fortunate, serious strides are being made to bridge these gaps in society. But with technology improving faster than we can comprehend, more steps need to be taken if we as a society care to close the digital divide and participation gap. So the point remains- who's left out, and how do we let them in?

- Barbara Lin

1 comment:

  1. This is a crucial point, Barbara, and I'm glad you've highlighted it. Even today in the United States, there are millions of people who still don't have access to the Internet, except perhaps at school or via workstations at public libraries. Here's a link to the infographic I showed in section earlier today, which shows the continuing disparities in global Internet access.