Charles Darwin could not have predicted the reverberating effects of his theories on society. The modern media landscape is now a breeding ground for evolution. In today’s convergent climate, it is essential to adapt rapidly to change. Old technologies mutate to suit ever-changing consumer needs. The nature of technologies, audiences and industries are increasingly bound to each other’s fates.
“Convergence is a process, not an endpoint”
Jenkins confidently explores this “process” of evolution in the opening chapter of Worship at the Altar of Convergence and Henry Jenkins on the Changing Media Landscape. Industries are struggling to control the “flow of content” across multiple channels as technology evolves rapidly. Audiences are shifting from passive to active consumers and are dictating the path of technological convergence. A cyclical trajectory has been created.
An example? Willy Wonka understood the need for technological evolution to meet consumer demands. Mike Teevee takes a chocolate bar from a television screen in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, demonstrating the audience’s participatory role and the intrinsic link between technologies, industries and audiences.
Conversely, McLuhan explores the relationship between the medium and its inherent message. Superfluously verbose in dissecting his comment “the medium is the message” McLuhan leads readers on a convoluted path to understanding. Federman agrees- “his meaning is not at all obvious” (1). Altered definitions of commonplace words in a media student’s vocabulary such as “media” and “message” serve only to confuse. Put simply- an inextricable causality exists between the medium and the message. For example, Hitler’s success lay in his strength as an orator. The radio allowed Hitler to extend his voice to a far larger audience than any one stadium could hold. Would he have been as successful if the radio did not facilitate the global transmission of his voice?
What neither we nor Darwin can anticipate is the future of technological convergence. Will this evolution lead to survival or extinction? Who knows?
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