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Convergence Culture. Where Old and New Media Collide
Convergence culture is highly generative - some ideas spread top down, starting with commercial media and being adopted and appropriated by a range of different publics as they spread outward across the culture. Others emerge bottom up from various sites of participatory culture and getting pulled into the mainstream if the media industries see some way of profiting prom it. The power of the grassroots media is that it diversifies: the power of broadcast media is that it amplifies. Expanding the potentials for participation represents the greatest opportunity for cultural diversity. But, throwing away broadcasting completely, one has only cultural fragmentation. The power of participation comes not from destroying commercial culture, but from writing over it, modding it, amending it, expanding it, adding greater diversity of perspective, and then recirculating it, feeding it back into the mainstream media.
Right now people are learning how to participate in such knowledge cultures outside of any formal educational setting. Much of this learning takes place in the affinity spaces that are emerging around popular culture. The emergence of these knowledge cultures partially reflects the demands these texts place on consumers, but they also reflect the demands consumers place on media - the hunger for complexity, the need for community; the desire to rewrite core stories. Convergence culture is the future, but it is taking shape right this moment. Consumers will be more powerful within convergence culture - but only if they recognize and use that power as both consumers and citizens, as full participants in our culture.
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