This is a review of Henry Jenkins’s new book Convergence Culture. The review is a bit longish, so I will do it in three separate posts today; Friday; and Monday.
Jenkins is a media studies professor at MIT, and his job is the fantasy job of a 12 year old: watch Survivor and American Idol and count it as work. His new book Convergence Culture is a sequel to his 1992 work Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Both books examine participatory media, that is, a popular culture that directly involves fans in the defining of the culture. This convergence isn’t about technology—one screen (or one box) to rule them all—but rather about the way that the bright lines separating content creators from content users are becoming increasingly fuzzy. A convergence of creators and users-as-creators.
The book is a fun read—examining not only Survivor and American Idol but also “transmedia” storytelling in The Matrix and Harry Potter and Star Wars fan fiction—and is an almost anthropological examination of new trends in fan participation. Fan participation also raises important legal issues (especially for copyright) and Jenkins spends some time on those, though they are not, understandably, the focus of the book.