In the June 2001 issue of MIT Technology Review, Henry Jenkins observed five types of convergences redefining our media landscape: global, organic, economic, technological, and cultural.[1] Global convergence refers to the international circulation of media content; organic convergence describes consumers’ multitasking abilities; economic convergence involves corporate synergy; technological convergence describes the digitization of media content; and cultural convergence represents the increasingly blurred line between media producer and consumer. While global and organic convergences are certainly important, I find these two terms closely related to the other types of convergences as they relate to the development of transmedia storytelling. Thus, in this chapter, I will focus on how economic, technological, and cultural convergences create a media environment ripe for transmedia narratives.

First, horizontally integrated mega-corporations have an interest in developing transmedia franchises across their multiple divisions. Second, in technological convergence, the digitizing and unbundling of media content makes it easier for stories to flow across media platforms. The television industry struggles to find a viable business model in this environment as technological convergence introduces new modes of engagement and a more complicated monetization system. Finally, cultural convergence can be seen as the way media consumers actively participate within the changing media landscape, becoming producers, sharers, and distributors themselves. I would also like to propose a subset of cultural convergence — “cult convergence” — in which the mainstreaming of cult properties has redefined what it means to be a cult fan.  As I will discuss in this chapter, all five types of convergences are interrelated and interconnected. Together, these processes of convergence form a perfect incubator for transmedia stories to flourish, setting the stage for narratives to flow across media platforms in a coordinated fashion, and changing how media producers and consumers think about storytelling.

[1] Jenkins, Henry. “Convergence? I Diverge.” MIT Technology Review. June 2001. <>

Posted by Aaron Smith on June 17, 2009
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