Put in simple terms convergence is the coming together of two different entities. Technology is one entity that has seen dramatic changes in recent times with the advances in science, as technology is a tool of science. Media is an entity that has a large influence on the lives of individuals. Convergence of a fast developing entity on an entity of large influence makes for change in the many aspects of an individual and the society of which the individual is an integral part.
Convergence in New Media and Technology
Development of multimedia digital technologies as a part of technological advancements has created a new dimension to the manner in which computers are used. New media utilizes digital technologies to enhance the development of information dissemination and plays an integral role in the changes witnessed over time within the mass media taken as a single entity. This interaction between technology on one side and the utilization of these technological advancements within another entity of media is convergence and has led to the development of new media. The convergence that advances in digital technology provided for media that enabled the creation of new media was that the images, text and objects could be interlinked. This made it possible to reduce the number of separate networks required for broadcasting, for communications, and for computing to one single network that allowed for customized and interactive multimedia content through any platform to the users. There is no better example of this than the Internet (Foster, 2002).
Political Consequences of New Media Convergence
Political events percolate through the new media of the Internet via Web sites and online newspapers before entering the traditional media of newspaper and television. This would not have been so a generation ago. The popularity of the new media makes it a potent weapon in politics. The reach and strength of the new media is such that political parties strive to effectively use it in their political strategies.
The proper use of the new media could give political leverage to political parties as they attempt to get the better of their adversaries. The consequence of this is that a new brand of politics has developed around new media in which the news disseminated through it becomes a weapon or a protective umbrella in the daily political wars fought by political parties. This gets enhanced during the period running up to elections, when the objective of the candidates in the use of the new media is not so much to win over the electorate through high quality arguments, but instead to brand the opposing candidates as fundamentally unfit to run for the post that they are standing for (Harris, 2006).
The United States of America presents the best example of this toxic use of new media. It started in the 1990s and became a significant tool in the 2004 Presidential elections. Blogs the short form for Web logs is an Internet journal that is frequently updated, and has quickly grown to have a large following. It provides a platform for expressing views and concerns on different subject matters including politics. In the run up to the Democratic Party nomination for the 2004 Presidential election, Vermont Governor was the first to make use of websites and blogs, which gave him an edge in the fundraising campaign, and caused many of the other candidates to follow suit. This innovative use of the new media has set the tone in its use as a political tool (Rice, 2003).
Economic Consequences of New Media Convergence
The Internet has caused the world to appear smaller and through that enhanced the potential of human activity. The Internet transcends geographical, political, and cultural barriers that have for long hindered utilization of the full potential of human activity. This has occurred with the ability of the Internet to transmit and receive information instantaneously. The Internet has become so relevant to all spheres of human activity that it has become the focus of business enterprises, governments, and individuals. The Internet has been responsible for the creation of new segments of business activity, changing the way existing business enterprises function, and in itself is a global cultural phenomenon. Internet based business enterprises are well known and have become popular too. Integration of existing business activity has been facilitated by the Internet irrespective of location. Enhanced trade and commerce has been facilitated by the Internet and but for the Internet, globalization being experienced in modern times would have remained a concept and not a reality (Gates, 2000).
Social Consequences of the New Media Convergence
The Internet as part of the new media has led to many changes in society and the individuals that are members of society. It has changed the way in which people communicate, how they work and the manner in which they spend their leisure time. As such the Internet has become a part of everyday life in most societies, with it being used at work, in schools and colleges, in hospitals and at home. It has a wide range of uses in society, as it is used for information, for surfing, for communicating, for playing online games and for entertainment. The Internet provides new means of interaction within the community and outside of it. Sitting at home an individual can interact with friends, colleagues and family irrespective of their location through online chatting or instant messenger, or e-mail. Absence from social forums does not mean that an individual is in isolation, as the Internet provides the means for social interaction from within the confines of home. The Internet has thus led to a need for redefining the context and meaning of social interaction. The internet performs the function of supplementing community through facilitating existing social relationships, civil engagements, and socialization. The Internet has blended into the lives of people as an additional facet for maintaining social contact in addition to face to face interaction or through the telephone. In addition to this the Internet also provides the means for expression of political perspectives and for indulging in hobbies (Wellman, Quan-Haase, Boase & Chen, 2002).
Cultural Consequences of New Media Convergence
Developments in multimedia technology and its convergence with media provide the means for participatory folk culture and the interaction of different cultures. This new participatory folk culture is encouraged by the tools that this convergence has provided to the average individual to archive, annotate, appropriate, recreate and re-circulate content available in the media. Business enterprises have strategically tapped this culture to foster customer loyalty and retain this loyalty through the use of low-cost content. New media convergence has also encouraged the development of content through different media channels, with each channel doing what is best within its technology. New media convergence by itself has given rise to a hybrid culture, which has come about due to the international circulation of media content. An example here is with regard to music content in, whereby this hybrid culture has been responsible for creation of interesting contemporary sounds and music. In a similar vein the global circulation of Asian popular movies through media convergence has had its influence on the manner in which Hollywood has developed some of its movies for entertainment. From this perspective the main cultural consequence of new media convergence has been providing to the people around the world the experience of what it is like to be a citizen in a global village (Majumdar, 2006).
New media convergence has given rise to consequences in the spheres of human activity of politics, economics, social interaction, and culture. There is speculation, whether all the consequences are beneficial to human development. This has been augmented by the disputes that have arisen on several between the consumers, producers and the gate keepers. The strength of new media is such that it will emerge from all this to provide a new meaning to the several activities that make up human endeavour.
Foster, H. 2002, ‘The New Media – just visions’. Web.
Gates, B. 2000, ‘Shaping the Internet’, Internet Policy Institute, Web.
Harris, J. F. 2006, ‘New Media A Weapon in New World of Politics’, The Washington Post, 6 Oct., p. 1.
Majumdar, B. 2006. ‘Real essence of convergence’. Wireless. Web.
Rice, A. 2003, ‘THE USE OF BLOGS IN THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION’, CampaignsOnline.org, John Hopkins University, Web.
Wellman, B., Quan-Haase, A., Boase, J. & Chen, W. 2002, ‘Examining the Internet in Everyday Life, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto. Web.