Convergence

Authored by: Henry Jones

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138665569
eBook ISBN: 9781315619811
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315619811-17

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Abstract

Convergence is one of the most pervasive – but also divisive – concepts within contemporary media studies. First discussed in the 1970s and ‘80s by ‘prophets’ of the field such as Ithiel de Sola Pool, the term was initially used to describe the blurring of lines between previously distinct media technologies. As such, in the 1990s, it became primarily associated with the macro-phenomenon of digitization and the idea that the unprecedented possibility of converting all media objects into a shared mathematical language of 0s and 1s allowed for the creation of new convergent meta-devices that might store, transmit and receive all kinds of media content. More recently, however, the term has variously been applied to economic, regulatory, political and even historical developments, leading to widespread confusion as to its ‘true’ meaning and growing scepticism as to its usefulness as a conceptual lens. Nevertheless, a number of dominant narratives of convergence may be distinguished, and the term can and has been productively applied to the analysis of citizen media. Consequently, this entry concentrates on highlighting what are generally referred to as ‘technological’ and ‘cultural’ processes of convergence, making use of a concrete case-study examining the rise of WikiLeaks to illustrate the discussion.

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