Shift Happens; Convergence for Dummies

When it came time to start understanding the notion of convergence, the technical ‘lingo’, so to speak, can get in the way a little bit. Trajectories of convergence is the analytical description of a pretty common question; “where is this all going?”

And until I read Mark Federman’s ‘What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message‘ (2004) and Henry Jenkins‘ ‘Worship at the altar of convergence: A new paradigm for understanding media change‘ (2006), I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer that question. Marshall McLuhan‘s enigmatic paradox ‘The Medium is the Message’ is largely misunderstood and you’d be easily forgiven for doing so as I think he made a point not to make his point blatantly obvious.

What McLuhan was concerned with, was that we tend to focus on the obvious “structural changes” that a new innovation brings, like convenience. We then in turn, overlook the changes that are introduced subtly, until we look back and become aware of such “unanticipated consequences”


Users, and notsofrequent users of technology are never controlled by said medium, no matter how hopeless they are at using it. Conversely, the consumers reaction and behaviour as a result of the medium becomes the controller of convergence. If you’re a user, you’re a contributor.

Both Jenkins and Federman argue the same notion; that although the technological development of society lies at the origins of convergence, convergence is not as a result of the sophisticated nature of these gadgets but rather the complex interactive nature of consumers.

“Convergence does not occur through media appliances, however sophisticated they may become.

Convergence occurs within the brains of individual consumers and through their social interactions with others.”

Reiterating the notion that the ‘message is in the medium’, I’ve no doubt that at some point we’ve all noticed that as a whole, we want our information abridged, concise and by golly we want it now! Consider the way in which producers have continued to develop technologies that provide us with super fast and accessible fragments of news and information. Our increasingly busy lifestyles communicated that we have no more time to sit down and absorb large quantities of information over relatively large periods of time. “I WANT INFORMATION AND I WANT IT NOW”. So we end up somewhere in 2013 drowning in a sea of alerts, alarms, banners and notifications… Cue the technologies which allow us to receive information faster than the speed of an earthquake. (Which is about 28,000 kmph)

We determine the trajectory of convergence and we are the message. The message is not found within the medium, but is a product of the medium. Humans are fairly dynamic creatures, you guys.




One thought on “Shift Happens; Convergence for Dummies

  1. dorislau says:

    Hey Ash, great post! I totally agree with you that the message is not found within the medium, but is a product of the medium itself as we, human are fairly dynamic creatures. I really like the video that you included in the blog to establish your point of the super fast and accessible fragments of news and information with the presence of today social media. It is really astonishing how a twit sent over twitter spread across the users community in such a high speed(even faster than the earthquake).

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