Discuss evidence of the presence or absence of convergence culture in your planned profession.
Convergence culture is in the air of every professional workforce. On what scale, can depend on factors such as the industry we see it in. Even traditional media outlets such as the newspaper factory, rely on new media to function.
Take my planned profession of in-house public relations as an example of new and old media meeting. It calls for a constant back and forth between using new and old modes of media and technologies. A PR consultant is a multi-tasker. The ten posts needed to be scheduled for social media, the draft needed to be compiled, the EDM for the next day, the reply emails to compose, the PR packages to be mailed out, the printed books that are ready to send to customers and the upcoming marketing campaign that needs skimming over requires traditional innovations and the new mediums that have oppressed, shaped and re-positioned them (McLuhan).
The constant, expected flow of new or revamped innovations and technologies that filter through workplaces can create a detrimental or beneficial effect. This is judged by the activities carried in the workplace that are capable of replication through technology. The Automation Potential and Wages for US Jobs study from Tableau Public analyses the detailed work activities of over 750+ occupations in the US and estimates the time that could be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology.
By judging off this table alone, I can categorise my profession under ‘Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations and be assured that roughly 45-50% of my usual activities can be completed by a computer or machine. While this percentage can seem staggeringly high, the convergence culture that exists in a PR-related workplace requires the autonomy of humans. To effectively co-exist, autonomous humans and technology work hand-in-hand in the PR sector. Alternatively, occupations such as ‘Healthcare Support Occupations’ and ‘Installation, Maintenance and Repair Occupations’ sit at the bottom 0.5%, thus suggesting the activities required are unlikely to be able to be simulated by new technologies.
The rapid pace at which technologies appear widen a gap that only shortens through adoption, and additionally puts many occupations and the employment of professionals at risk. For those whose work-related responsibilities sit higher than the 50%+ zone, would likely classify convergence culture as disruptive technologies. Although several occupations predict that the activities performed cannot be simulated, the advancement of technology is so unfathomable, who’s to say in 100 years it can’t be?
My theory is that my profession and many others, require a certain human autonomy that cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence. While convergence culture thrives and new innovations are created, there are certain elements that no matter how fine-tuned, cannot be duplicated or simulated by a computer. As a detailed example: when I recently dispatched a PR package to a social media influencer with the aim of making an impact with our product, I included a handwritten note. I also added a reference to a joke she made via a Snapchat storuy to create a connection. This method of behaviour is not something I believe can be replicated by the most advanced technologies. While I predict that the convergence culture in my industry is imminent and growing, there will always be a need for the human.
The term collective intelligence, used by Levy and appraised by Jenkins is ultimately the conversation and buzz fuelled by what we consume through all modes of media. Without readily accessible sources of content that lead to conversation amongst ourselves, it creates a lack that would have potentially lead to new ideas and feedback I could implement into my profession. As an example: working in the fitness industry requires constant research of our competitors. I can only imagine the difficulty in sourcing this information without the collective intelligence spurring on conversation and access to convenient media platforms in my workplace. This further stresses the need for the presence of convergence culture in the PR industry.
Jacobs furthers this argument that culture convergence is a given that consumers welcome into the workplace. Jacobs suggests that there is a debate of whether convergence can also be described as a consumer’s gravitational pull toward a common point, or instead, diffusion and dispersal of media practice (Jacobs, 2011). This demonstrates that our convergence culture is something we welcome into the workplace, effectively allowing new media to diffuse and serve its purpose.
Jacobs, J. (2011). Convergence or diffusion? the spread of media history. Cultural Studies Review, 17(2), 399-405. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/922933676?accountid=26503