Convergence has had a profound effect on technologies and media platforms. In my opinion, it has generated a culture where both producers and consumers work together to essentially reach the goal of ‘convenience’. We are constantly striving to use and collaborate technologies to make life easier and more efficient for ourselves. Companies compete rigorously through greater innovation of products as a means to win the hearts of more consumers. This has largely been achieved through the digitalisation of technology which has enabled content to flow more easily amongst media platforms.
As the lecture outlined, now, convergent media platforms are bigger than the sum of their parts i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops etc (Moore 2014). This has all been driven through competition. For example, the new Xbox One has been classified as an ‘all-in-one entertainment system’, making it a competitor not only for Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo Wii, but also the platforms of Apple TV and Google TV. The Xbox One not only performs its’ basic function of entertaining its’ user as a gaming machine, but it also performs the functions of connecting to the internet; accessing and using social media sites; skyping; watching TV and movies etc (Moore 2014). After all, life is so much more convenient when everything can be done through one black box!
However, while such devices can make individuals feel limitless, they can also ironically restrict us. For example, the lecture discussed the contrasting ideological approaches of Apple and Android. Unlike the Android system —which is a more open, generative and user-friendly platform —the IOS system features a digitally exclusive yet restricted and locked environment (Moore 2014). This can essentially be seen by the fact that IOS only runs on the iPhone. Thus, everything about the way individuals interact with the iPhone is deliberately tethered to Apple. For example, the centralised App Store is a monopoly point for users: it is the only way users can access content (Moore 2014). This reflects Apple’s ideology of providing its’ users with a ‘more consistent and focused user experience at the expense of flexibility and innovation’ (Moore 2014). However, as an Android user myself, I do appreciate the greater flexibility i’m allowed on my phone. I feel as if I have more options and I can truly cater the phone to my own needs.
Similar to the open, unrestricted environment of the Android system, Second Life is also catered to user discretion. It provides a unique experience for all its users. The Second Life slogan is: ‘your world, your imagination’. Thus the options on Second Life are limitless, for example: users can create and customise their own avatar multiple times a day; the world is accessible to those with visual impairment; users can create their own virtual goods and sell them through the Linden Currency which can be exchanged to US dollars etc. See ‘How Second Life Works‘.
Such open environments clearly allow users to customise their own experience. However, at the end of the day, users have the discretion to choose which ideological structure suits them when choosing a technology or media platform.
Wikipedia, 2014, Second Life, Wikipedia, viewed 30 March 2014, < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life>.
Xbox Wire Staff, 2013, Xbox One: The Complete All-in-One Games and Entertainment System, Xbox Wire, viewed 30 March 2014, < http://news.xbox.com/2013/11/xbox-one-complete-games-entertainment>
Moore, C 2014, ‘Platforms, Permissions and Ideologies’, BCM112, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 25 March.