A wide-ranging examination of the contemporary media environment as individuals increasingly control their own creation of content.
Jenkins (Communication and Journalism/Univ. of Southern California; Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, 2006, etc.) and digital strategists Ford and Green collaborate in a book combining abstract academic theory, how-to advice for businesses and popular-cultural anecdotes for lay readers. The basic message is simple—"If it doesn't spread, it's dead.”—but the authors express their theories with language that will feel unfamiliar to nonspecialist users of digital media. Even most Luddites probably know that circa 2012, content circulates from grass-roots sources as well as corporate sources. But why that is happening, and exactly what it means for corporate bottom lines, nonprofit think tanks and individual consumers, is less evident. The authors attempt to provide a framework for understanding the phenomena involved, going beyond the bits-and-bytes technology to the elusive democratization of communication throughout global society. The outcomes of a networked culture are not inevitable; without the predictions of further change, the authors write that their book would be pointless. In the introduction, the authors aid general understanding by sharing the example of Susan Boyle, the remarkable songstress who rose from obscurity through YouTube. The case study helps explain not only the spread of entertainment content, but also the spread of news content, overtly political and religious messages, advertising and branding. In the past, Boyle’s fame could have theoretically spread slowly through individuals sharing newspaper clippings by snail mail, but she never could have become an international celebrity within a week of her singing debut without the power of networked culture.
May serve as a useful handbook for digital media strategists and marketers, but this dense tome will take a major effort for nonspecialists to fully understand.