KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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Fandom Book Report: Convergence Culture

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins

Thoughtful and thought-provoking look at how new media is changing the ways in which we relate to old media. I found it highly engaging, especially as compared to the more academic articles in Fans Bloggers and Gamers: Media Consumers in a Digital Age -- I was even entertained, enough that I could read it while traveling. One of the things I appreciate about Henry Jenkins is that he writes about the Internet without either glorifying or demonizing it, and that he also looks at older media with a clear eye as well; he understands their strengths and weaknesses, and has a strong sense of where old media and new can complement one another. His approach is also very user-centered -- I think he does a good job of actually examining what people do, rather than being blinded by his expectations.

The book does have a serious downside: it's dated. The publication date is 2006, but the text is clearly much older, by several years in some cases. The chapter on media convergence and politics focuses on the 2004 presidential election, the chapter on Harry Potter was written before the release of HP5, the chapter on fans picking up clues from a television series to figure out the truth of what's happening focuses on Survivor and The Matrix series was used as the primary example of a cross-media text. I found myself itching for more recent perspectives: what does he make of Lost and the elaborate games the producers play with the fans? What about the cross-media presence of Heroes, or the success of Dr. Horrible, or the presidential campaign of Barack Obama? (As an aside, I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone in the Obama campaign read this book and applied its lessons to their online strategy.) I do read Jenkins's blog from time to time, and I plan to go back through his archives to see if he addresses any of these issues. But it is an unfortunate limitation of academic works on fandom.

That said, I still find what Jenkins has to say relevant and interesting, even if I have to make some of the broader connections myself. And his final call to action -- fighting censorship, overly broad copyright restrictions, and the consolidation of mass media -- is as timely as it ever was. Definitely recommended.

Also posted on GoodReads. View all my reviews.
Tags: books, fandom, the media
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