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Henry Jenkins

I think you mis-state or misunderstand my position here:

I do not mean to suggest that there will not be a whole range of black boxes which merge together different media functions. I cite as an example the contemporary cell phone which is the digital equivalent of the swiss army knife. I have also recently written about the Xbox 360 in very similar terms to what you say here. I can imagine any number of media companies seeking to produce black boxes, some of which will sell, some of which won't.

The fallacy is believing that convergence depends on the existence of such devices. My argument is that convergence is already occuring on a cultural level even in the absence of what is taking place on the technological level. Consumers are taking the media they want where they want it and when they want it and they are doing it illegally if it is not made available to them legally and they are doing it on their own if the technologies do not make it easy for them to do so. If I was designing a new convergence technology, I would be looking to see what consumers are doing right now when it is hard and when the devices are not connected and then build that into the next generation of devices.

I also don't imagine that there will be THE black box which makes all of this happen. I think there will be many black boxes that do some things in combination for some consumers but that convergence exists in a dynamic with divergence. As you say above, this will happen because this is what consumers want.

See my own blog post on this at http://www.henryjenkins.org/2006/06/convergence_and_divergence_two.html#more

Lee McEwan

Hi Henry,

Sorry, I had understood your position to be that there would be limited demand for one-size-fits-all converged devices. I stand corrected.

I totally agree with your suggestion to "see what consumers are doing right now when it is hard and when the devices are not connected and then build that into the next generation of devices." With this in mind we have been using ethnography with our clients to observe consumer frustrations with existing media interactions. The workarounds that the more techie consumers have attempted (either through software or hardware) have often been valuable for coming up with new product concepts.

Our research has shown that, as you say, there is strong consumer demand for both convergence and divergence of devices, depending on the consumer, the category and the situation. Some are willing to accept a 'good enough' Swiss Army Knife device in some situations - especially when they are seeking portability; others will only ever accept a dedicated single-purpose device and are willing to compromise on luggability in return for the best performance.

It's not clear cut and as you say "convergence exists in a dynamic with divergence".

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