Chapter 1

The Collision of Media, Technology, and Creativity

What is convergence? A little disambiguation, to borrow a term from Wikipedia, is in order. As a quick glance at that community-built encyclopedia will tell you, the concept of convergence holds meaning in fields from computer sciences and telecommunications, to economics, accounting, and sociology, to biology, mathematics, and logic. Convergence serves as the name of a Goth festival, an information technology (IT) show in the Philippines, and a Mexican political party. It’s served as the title for several works of literature and music. Convergence, it’s clear, means a lot of things to a lot of people. Its popularity reflects the era we live in, an epoch in which boundaries are made to be destroyed, in which unfamiliar ideas are brought together.

There are strong forces at work here. The Internet has made communications cheap, instantaneous, and global. Inexpensive airfare and shifting international labor markets have uprooted millions, leaving them to bring their cultures and practices to new places, forging new, hybrid cultures. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote years ago, “Today, more than ever, the traditional boundaries between politics, culture, technology, finance, national security, and ecology are disappearing.” Friedman’s point was that technological advances, chief among them the growth of the Internet, had globalized the world in a way that companies and nations had yet to understand. Boundaries ...

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