More honey, less buzz

Our hero of the week is Henry Jenkins, who hammered out a tight, concise explanation of what convergence really is over at Technology Review.

History teaches us that old media never die. And before you say “What about the eight-track?” let’s distinguish among media, genres and delivery technologies. Recorded sound is a medium. Radio drama is a genre. CDs, MP3 files and eight-track cassettes are delivery technologies. Genres and delivery technologies come and go, but media persist as layers within an ever more complicated information and entertainment system. A medium’s content may shift, its audience may change and its social status may rise or fall, but once a medium establishes itself it continues to be part of the media ecosystem. No one medium is going to “win” the battle for our ears and eyeballs.

Henry Jenkins – and we admit here that we resist, with a snigger, the temptation to AOLify his name to HankJenk – then explicates the five forms of convergence masquerading as one (technological , economic, social or organic, cultural, and global). And he charmingly nails what’s wrong with the entire discussion: “What’s all this talk about ‘media convergence,’ this dumb industry idea that all media will meld into one, and we’ll get all of our news and entertainment through one box? Few contemporary terms generate more buzz – and less honey.”

Somebody hire this fellow pronto. Or at least get him on the conference circuit, which, it will be pointed out, we have never been invited to join. (Who’s sniggering now?)

Posted on 2001-05-31