10 takeaways from Henry Jenkins’ Masterclass on Culture and Convergence in the Digital Era

13 Jul,2015

By Sushobhan Patankar


Henry Jenkins

Over the last three decades, Dr Henry Jenkins has been the leading voice on participatory culture, media convergence, transmedia storytelling, and more. At the Godrej India Culture Lab Masterclass on Friday, the man widely regarded as the world’s ‘Convergence Culture Guru’ discussed what these ideas mean for us in India — whether in business, education, media, the non-profit world, or simply for citizens wanting to participate in tomorrow’s digital economy. Here are some key takeaways


1. From an industry point of view, fans are the audience you want to hold on to in an age of dwindling viewer loyalty and multiple media choices. Fans are becoming more important in part for brands because of their emotional connections


2. Fans form the base of consumer activism. It was fans who forced the network to produce Season 3 of Star Trek. Fans can, and will, change the world in some fundamental ways.


3. We are in the phase of profound and prolonged media change of the sort that we’ve only seen a few times before.


4. There’s a shift that takes place in human cultures around the world, in oral communication, and possibly in writing. Writing is a transformative technology.


5. There’s a shift that’s now taking place around digital media. Jenkins believes this digital change is going to be as profound in history as other changes have been.


6. It’s not about interactivity, it’s about participation. Interactivity is technical, participation is related to culture.


7. The hashtag wasn’t built by Twitter. It was an innovation by users. The hashtag fundamentally changed how technology operated. The hashtag is cultural, not technological. It’s a product of cultural change.


8. If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead. Companies should get out of the business of shutting things down and get into the business of engaging in conversation, and engaging people through dialogue. Phrases like ‘going viral’ make people believe [sometimes erroneously] that if they can always control the conversation, they can stay in control.


9. Two phenomena are important in case of India — one is the selfie and [the other is] the smart mob. The selfie, by definition, is personal; the other is collective or social. But they’re both right, there’s no point taking a selfie if you’re not going to share it with people. The selfie becomes cultural currency the minute you put in into circulation.


10 .Before we change the world, we need to imagine better. In order to change the world we have to first imagine what a better world looks like.


Sushobhan Patankar is a former broadcast journalist, currently Assistant Professor at the Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune. He is also pursuing a PhD from Pune University


First appeared in dna of brands dated July 13


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