The biggest downsides to convergence culture are power and access. Corporate media and certain individuals within it, have more power over consumers and will control everything in their best interests. In terms of access, some consumers will have a better opportunity to participate than others. As Henry Jenkins says in Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, convergence is “being shaped top-down by the decision being made by massive media conglomerates who have controlling interest across all possible media systems and who enjoy the power to ensure that their content circulates globally”. He also says that although people can opt in and out of different levels of participation, it’s not elective in that as this is a” new source of power, wealth and knowledge.” It’s a new site of privilege and power; those who don’t have the resources to access it are left behind or forced to get access illegally.
These disadvantages should not be taken lightly. Those who are quick to name convergence culture as a better chance for those on the bottom to participate are ignoring how power and access are key to being able to do so. If these issues are not addressed, I think that over time, everything will be the same and leave out consumers who could never get access and also exclude those who have access but are not as powerful as corporations and actors within them.
– Laurel B.
Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.