How Fast Can Discourse Keep Up in Media Anyway?

From my reading list, I was examining what the critical conversation was around Henry Jenkins’ book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Combine. The term ‘convergence culture’ had effectively entered the critical sphere of media studies as an important one to talk about the evolution of media, as Jenkins puts it in the original book: “By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the
migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.” (Jenkins, Convergence Culture 2)
Jenkins later responded to his own book in the form of an academic essay in 2011, examining the impact of the term ‘convergence culture’. He then again, responded to it in a follow up to this follow up in 2014 in another essay titled “Rethinking ‘Rethinking Convergence/Culture.’” I find this follow-up to a follow-up piece interesting because it examines a key flaw in media studies scholarship: scholarship cannot keep up with the rapid changing of media and accurately predict the future of media. “Meanwhile, the reality is shifting underneath our feet, and new scholarly work has probably been completed and is inthe
process of being published that may well change our perspectives, and each of
us continue probing deeper into the issues we are exploring here. The difficulty of such back-and-forth scholarly exchanges through print already indicates why I value the faster, more fluid, and more open exchanges that are possible through digital media.” (Jenkins, Rethinking 275)

Jenkins points out something useful here his book doesn’t do a good job of addressing, by virtue of how scholarship and book research works in media studies his discourse while widely engaged with, was behind by the time critics responded to it because of the shifts in culture that occurred after publishing. He cites the example of how his works have addressed things like the Iranian uprising, but failed to predict the Arab Spring revolution of 2011 to point out how unpredictable media and cultural shifts can be (Jenkins, Rethinking 276).

This is useful for me to think about how rapidly media studies evolves as a field because of the nature of what it works with. Many of the things I am discussing or willing to discuss critically are rapidly changing before discourse can catch up to it, and I have to adapt accordingly. Even critics who define aspects of the field such as Jenkins are not always going to be 100% reliable in explaining an issue as it develops, or have an answer to an issue that changes almost completely by the time I am examining it in the present day.

Jenkins, Henry, 1958-. Convergence Culture : Where Old and New Media Collide. New York :New York University Press, 2006.
Jenkins, Henry. “Rethinking ‘Rethinking Convergence/Culture.’” Cultural Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 267–297. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09502386.2013.801579.

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