TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Februar 2010

Sektion 7.4.

Kommunikation von Innovationen! Innovation von Kommunikation? | Communication of Innovation! Innovation of Communication?
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair: Klaus M. Bernsau (Wiesbaden)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

From Convergence to… Convergence Culture

Rahilya Geybullayeva (Baku Slavic University) [BIO]



Technical opportunities and social processes that promote the formation and distribution of cultures have been extended during the age of digital technologies. There is a necessity for the specification of terms with the advent of new cultural elements and the ethical dilemna of cultural consumption.

The main consumer of new culture is the new generation, which takes existing materials as a basis for its own work and remixes them. The Internet network allows for the cooperation of both the amateur  and professional, contributing to each other’s works, although they  usually do not meet each other in real life. The reader actively changes the content of media, altering it for his own consumption. Alteration occurs both to literature and musical culture, producing the creation of two closed forms through a remix of culture and fan fiction.  This new type of migration of cultures has technical pluses for the distribution of cultures.  But what ethical considerations arise when music, the image or history wanders from one culture into another, or creates subcultures, giving wider opportunity for the creation of a new culture through the use of the intellectual heritage of another's culture? 

Or, how can one save authors of non-fiction from the falsification of realities? These ethical problems became obvious when using the Internet for the distribution of literary texts, from classics to contemporary works. New opportunities in the media, arts and culture have created new forms of distribution, which assume not only the technical, but also, and no less important, the ethical aspects of consumption of this culture.

Taking into consideration the possibilities to use new techniques, the necessity to redefine the content of some terms is obvious. Some of them became changeable from the traditional and canonical periods for the first sight ‘nation’ or ‘literarure.’ From the other side appeared new forms of culture, such as fan fiction, remix culture, network culture, and hybrid media. 

Thus, there is a hybridization of forms of art and culture—literature, cinema, folklore, fan fiction and blogging—through сonvergence сulture, incorporated by a network,

New opportunities in the media, arts and culture have appeared in tangent with new forms of distribution, which challenge not only the technical side, but also, and no less important, the ethical aspects of consumption of this culture.  This becomes a priority question.

This paper  explores several related themes as: What is convergence culture in contemporary life? Forms of convergence culture? What is the media?


Definitions of  convergence and convergence culture

  1. The root of the word convergence – ‘verge’ means border, edge, coincidence, equality. Convergence is the antonym for divergence, with the same root, which have opposite meanings, as different.
  2. ‘Convergence’  is the name of a biannual scientific conference held  by the HGA (Handweavers Guild of America), featuring such forms as special lectures, seminars, exhibitions, roundtables, and commercial projects. Participation is open both to professionals and amateurs who are interested in fiber technologies.
  3. In linguistics convergence is a common term. It implies the reception of the equal social status of two or more languages. Mostly, this is a term of Comparative Linguistics related to the ethnogenesis of languages.
  4. Convergence theory has been recently connected with the media through the increase in forms of information technologies. It refers to the elimination of barriers between the electronic industry and telecommunications, and the creation of a common industry with multiple functions.
  5. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (Convergence: International magazine of research in technologies and new media) is a scientific journal established by the British University Luton (nowadays Bedfordshire) in 1995.  Its articles are about social, political, and creative questions concerning  problems of control, censorship, education and virtual reality, arising from the advent of new technologies of  mass information.  For example, issue  № 10 in 2004 is devoted to a special theme, Sexuality and the Internet. Or  The Dark Side of Cyberspace: Internet Content Regulation and Child Protection also became a separate theme of № 4 in 1999)(1).
  6. A more popular and agreed upon definition of convergence culture belongs to Henry Jenkins, head of the department of Comparative Media Studies at MIT– a leader in the field of technologies. For him, “this is where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways"(2).


What are the media and mass media?

The media means a tool or instrument of information and/or communication. Mass means multitude, great number. Proceeding from these meanings, mass-media is the tool, instrument of information for a great number of people. In this combination, the clues are:

The old, core definition, based on its lexical essence, is the same. New tools and forms of distribution (by means of what?) appeared  and added to the usual forms of mass-media, somehow repeating them in new forms. New forms left former forms behind due to their capability, speed and potential for distribution. The mass is students, spectators, and now also people who cooperate in the creation of the information. Today, each type of information is focused on its own circle of consumers. Information becomes more flexible, almost uncontrollable, especially on a lot of the Internet sites, strengthening its influence on the consciousness of people and societies, both creating and destroying.

Mass media are not only traditional newspapers, radio, and TV. Today, they include mobile phones and computers. The essence of mass allows this line of distribution to be disseminated through primitive and primordial rituals, street performances, as well as libraries, museums, cinemas, and books. The combination of several forms through one medium and means of distribution, due to the development of software programs, has led to the term multimedia.

Information not only carries the continual coverage and incessant chronicling of daily events, but also scientific information, and the basis of fundamental sciences.

 This new area of a science focusing on Information Studies appeared in 1989(3),  and the first textbooks were published a couple of years later.

The content of some seems stabile terms  vary (national,  literature), and appear  new terms, such  as fan fiction, network culture, and hybrid media, reflecting the essence of a сonvergence сulture. So, how are we exposed to convergence сulture, or what are its forms?


Forms of convergence culture: Collective creativity and multifunctional technical equipment?

Forms of convergence culture can be grouped as a combination of technical functions (mobile phones, computers), under the form of creation (performances, fan-fiction), genre forms that assume both multifunctional device forms and mass (flash-mobs, blackland,) and forms of distribution (audiocasts, videocasts, broadcasts).

During lessons about literary cultural trends, creating the versions—the continuations of known texts (fan-fiction)  students take a serious approach to creating examples of  literary trends. Their differences from previous trends are based on ideological aspects. The books undergo deconstruction as new technologies offer unexpected endings. 

Another form of flash-mobs gatherings we can consider  the organization of scientific conferences and section groups, and open lectures, which are promoted through online announcements. The KCTOS conference, which gave us the opportunity to present papers, is the result of a flash-mob, yet it is not an absurd event.

Let's note that Howard Rheingold, the author of the book Great Crowd: The Following Social Revolution  (2003) is considered the main ideologist of the flash-mob. In his opinion, this form of convergence could create unpredictable possibilities, including revolution.

So technical opportunities provide new forms to become acquainted with the property of ancient culture, in this case, with religious or philosophical books by means of new technological devices.

Classical music, painting, and the alphabet in Europe developed through the distribution of Christianity. These art types were means of distribution of the information, in this case, ideas of religion in the form of illustrations. 

The policy of colonization was one method that led to the spread of cultures and the creation of peripheral cultures.

Book printing and cinema are also means of promoting the expansion of different cultures.

 Fan fiction is the creativity of fans who, not wanting to wait for versions from the author, create their own versions of known novel plots, for example, Harry Potter.

A multitude of authors of one literary text is a counterbalance to the principle creativity of one author—one author with a multitude of works.

Is there one literary work? In fact, various continuations are turned out. There are also other variants— various continuations of the same work by the same author.


Сonvergence сulture as fan fiction. Its varieties: plots, archetypes and hypertext.

Considering convergence culture and an example of one of its forms, I try to consider one aspect of this phenomenon, which has become one of the most popular of the Internet epoch, as the Internet penetrates all spheres of the humanities, including  literary studies.  

Fan fiction as art adaptation by fans and amateurs is a form of literary creativity—the continuation of plots and literary works by fans. This term can be applied to musical arrangements and adaptations, from folklore to instrumental performances of classics (Paul Maria, R. Klauderman), and film and theatre visualizations of known literary works.  Fan fiction draws on the remix of culture and cultural adaptation.

Though the term fan fiction is rather new, it is possible to find traces of this phenomenon in previous epochs. Thus, plot-archetypes are another type of fiction, but could be considered previous forms of fan fiction, written by professional authors.

Using plot-archetypes in modern life is also a remix of culture, a remixed or reworked adaptation of art texts with tendencies toward changes in classical traditions of archetype using details.  For example, Shakespeare’s Romeo and the Juliet is executed by black actors, or a traditional performance by a ballerina in a tutu in P.Chaykowsky’s Swan Lake is replaced by the shocking replacement of men dancers in tutus, according to the perception of one of the directors.

If plot-archetypes are the ancient phenomenon, as literary process is, such replacements, sometimes exclusive former fundamental rules and values of canonical plot, are receiving increased distribution over the last few decades, especially in the belief that failed states seem unshakeable.

While using  plot-archetypes as a basis for new literary work, authors usually keep a plot skeleton and features of the heroes. Scrutinizing it closely, the contents and structure of the multinational online encyclopedia Wikipedia represents examples of fan fiction (created by fans), with the classical hypertext (necessary references for key words), as well as the paper form of the encyclopedia with rudiments of the nonlinear letter (system of references).

 This so-called nonlinear letter is a form of hypertext.

An alternative  literary mode «open final» was offered by John Faulz in 1969. He published different versions of the ending for his novel The Woman of the French Lieutenant,  and considered them equivalent. As a result, the loving couple appeared together, but in the end, they were separated. Charles receives a letter from Exeter and goes there, but, not having seen Sarah, "the wife of the French officer," he decides to go further, to Lime-Ridges, to Ernestine. Their reunion leads to a wedding. They live happily with seven children.  In this ending, he is separated from Sarah. 

The other ending begins with the moment Charles receives the letter from Exeter and goes there. In this version, he writes her about his decision to marry her.  He feels an inflow of assurance and courage, terminates the engagement with Ernestina, decides to share his life with Sarah, but cannot find her.

At last, he gets  long-awaited news in America two years later.  Returning to London, Smothson  finds Sarah among artists in a house at Rossetty. Here, he learns about a one-year-old daughter.  This variant is subject to the author's change. His hero does not agree to be a toy for Sarah. In fact, before Sarah gave him unique hope, but, arriving in Exeter, they exchanged roles. She keeps him with pity, but Charles wants to return to America where he can find a way “to a believe in himself.”

In this case, the author thought up his own fan fiction, and without the intervention of new technologies. 

Similarly, Milorad Pavic thought up three versions for his novel The Khazar's Dictionary, in the paper version as well as the book. In this novel, Khazars chose religion. The three versions have three different narrators, a Jew, Christian, and Muslim. Each of them proves that Khazars accepted his belief. For the convenience of reading and to distinguish the variants, the author allocated key words with references and crosses, as in the Internet hypertext.  The CD version of this book appeared later, after the paper book.

Although only the first writer from this group, Serbian Milorad Pavic, profited from new technologies while writing the book The Unique Novel (both the book, and CD) while  above mentioned three authors rank on a plan of the multiply final scheme of their literary works, remaining the form of the written hypertext . In the book, The Unique Novel, the author created a hundred endings for the same novel. In the paper version, it was possible to publish all endings collected all in one book, or one hundred variants of one text, providing each of them with a different ending.

Kamal Abdulla has written various versions of the same plot-archetype taken from the The Book of Grandfather Gorgud , and in various genres—from play and verses to the novel.(6).  They were followed with research about the epic.  In each of the cases, applying to this masterpiece of  intangible heritage – epic plots and images -  he followed an idea to bare a history with possiblel unpleasant and impartial moments, to reach true.  This resulted in variations of fan-fiction based on his own creativity and the hypertext with variations on the plot about Grandfather Gorgud. This raises the question, how  has the plot-archetype changed?  What is the effect if in the previous variant, the fan-fiction heroes’ perceptions stayed the same; for example, traditionally the essence of the positive or negative hero is unchangeable.  The destruction of the states and related former ideals brought by the literary trend created the destruction of historical stereotypes. Variations of archetype plot borrowed from the epic Grandfather Gorgud in the interpretation by K. Abdulla, in the sense of changing the perception of ideal heroes for many generations through centuries, became an unexpected turn when cult heroes of the epic appear completely different in his literary work. Recently, K.Abdulla published the story with only one level of deconstruction one of the main events in the plot line of an ancient Greek myth with discord, but kept unchanged the core plot of the heroes.  The broken canon created in a new variant created new space for the hypertext of this plot-archetype:  Paris chooses Hera. The same reason for the conflict as in the original. Is it original?  This raises questions about canons for discussion.

The basic idea for fan-fiction—recycling pre-existing literary canons into new text to find variants through the deconstruction of canonical text—raises the underlying question: Have there been other attempts over the centuries? If yes, what do we accept as the canon—the primary version or changed version?  Paraphrasing the famous expression “And the judges are who?”  by Gryboyedov’s hero Chatsky,  it is not  possible to change  the archetype myth or plot; it is known that religious canons eventually are reconsidered, being partly modernized from time to time. So, who cares about historical dogmas? Especially considering modern history with the disintegration of the socialist commonwealth countries, the Warsaw Contract, and now the obvious loss of power of the last superpower, the USA, questions about the truths and lies in history are raised. History is full of chronicles of falling regimes and the construction of new countries, which require new systems of ideology and values.

Thus, new variants of a reconstruction of archetype-plots allow one to speak about former forms of fan-fiction, one of the forms of fan-fiction created by various authors, moreover, frequently belonging to various regions and national literatures, to unit products of the same archetype in some kind of  hypertext, accordingly to speak about former forms of hypertext.



Examples where one kind of art is crossed with another:

Or Romeo and Juliet, with more than 200 variants by authors from different cultures. For this phenomenon of converged culture, sometimes it is appropriate to use the term ‘remix culture.’

Or recycled variants of the Bible’s plot about the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate as one of the lines in M.Bulgakov's and C.Ajtmatov's novels. 

The plurality of versions of one literary product is a question demanding the study of different aspects, mainly as reasons and ways of remixing and recycling cultures.

In this work, I focused on such forms of convergence culture as fan fiction-before and beyond, being based on former forms of its existence. This new term appears to be a continuation of the term  archetype, as a form of сonvergence сulture.


1 Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. - № 4, 1999, № 10, 2004 .
2 Jenkins, H. Convergence Culture. New York: New York UniversityPress. (2006). "Introduction," pp.1-24.
3 Основы  информациологии. – Москва, 1989.
4 Евгения Супрычева. Как заставить толпу рекламировать товары бесплатно. – Комсомольская правда, 18-25 октября 2007 года, с.9.
5 See: Мария Кормилова, Алексей Смирнов. Книга как разновидность компьютерной игры: - Рубрика Мир науки: виртуальный мир. -  Мир новостей, 10 июля 2007 года,  № 29 (707), с. 37. 
6 Yarimçıq əlyazma romanı , Casus pyesi, Sirriçində dastan və ya Gizli Dədə Qorqud elmi araşdırması.

7.4. Kommunikation von Innovationen! Innovation von Kommunikation? | Communication of Innovation! Innovation of Communication?

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections


For quotation purposes:
Rahilya Geybullayeva: From Convergence to… Convergence Culture - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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