I finished Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture while up in Chicago, and my brain is still cataloging the information. As usual, I read the book with pen in hand. The margins are full of notes and brackets. Lines and passages are underlined. Good stuff.
The biggest praise I have for the book is the fact I’ve had the chance to reference it in conversation at least 5 times since Gmail – Inboxfinishing it two days ago. It’s not that all of Jenkins’ ideas are necesarily unique. I found myself dazing through a few passages containing thoughts and notions with which I am already familiar or putting into practice. No, what struck me about the book was the way it, itself, acted a conduit for convergence of the ideas and examples Jenkins writes about.
In reading about the interweaving of storylines across media in the Matrix universe, I found myself hopping online mid-paragraph to download referenced movies and read more about storylines that had been missed. I couldn’t even read the book in isolation. Were it an e-Book on a PDA or the like, I would have been set.
One downfall of the tome is it’s lack of or passing attention paid to Myspace, Youtube and Wikipedia. This is not to mention RSS feeds and Skype. Were these tools not as priminant when Jenkins was writing in ’05-’06? The other possibility, of course, is that Jenkins chose not to include them for fear that they might overload what is a user-friendly introduction to the ideas of convergence and web 2.0.
Whatever the reason, Convergence Culture is a worthwhile read I’m sure to be talking and posting about for quite some time. I should give a shout out of thanks to Will Richardson for mentioning this book over the summer at the Building Learning Communities ’06 conference. It’s been on my shelf since I got back to Sarasota from Boston (I think I ordered it on Amazon just after his break-out session), but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read until spring break.
I’m working on A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah now. Wow, compelling reading. Truly. I heard about the book when Beah was on The Daily Show. Unfortunately, Beah’s account closely mirrors Dave Eggers’ fictionalized refugee of one of the Lot Boys of Sudan in What is the What? I say unfortunately because it shows how such similar atrocities took place while the world stood watching. I’m not claiming to have any solution or to know what we could have done, but something. Something. All right.