Dissertation Series: Conclusion

This dissertation has given an account of emerging trends and how the use of participatory and convergence culture are shaping cultural objects and changing cultural practices. I have argued that the combination of social media technologies, human interaction and resulting cultural interaction has resulted in cultural objects gaining popularity. The central discussion that convergence and participatory culture is not only shaping videogames but is also affecting how election campaigns are

conducted. This study set out to determine whether social media was the driving force behind these two cultures and to what extent it is involved in empowering these cultures to effect change in modern society. I have shown that Barack Obama used social media to greatly enhance his political campaign to both raise money and also to engage with younger voters. And how by converging together young voters became engaged and formed online communities that shared critical discussion and took part in creating content themed around the 2008 campaign. The trends shown in 2008 underlined a change in how people interact with both mass media and social media, the Internet was the facilitator of this change. New opportunities for interaction became available because of this, whether it was directly contacting candidates through social media or asking questions on YouTube, citizens now have greater opportunities to connect with their politicians then previously was the case.


I have also explored participatory culture and how this has created a new kind of relationship between consumers and major media companies. By examining historical and recent campaigns conducted by fan communities I have demonstrated that the internet is playing an increasingly important role in empowering fans to take an active role by coercing production companies. When fans converge to participate together around cultural objects significant shaping can take place. In the case of team fortress; an engaged audience together with an open minded and proactive developer have come together to form a convergence point in which both parties decide and mediate

the shape of the object to form new outcomes. There is little doubt that TF2 would not be as successful today without the involvement of its fans. This interaction evidences how new possibilities can emerge. While social media is not the sole element in making participatory and convergence culture as prominent as it is today. The Internet has greatly enhancing the numbers of people available to communicate and converge together. These possibilities have allowed audiences’ new opportunities to cross


boundaries of national and cultural specificity and created the conditions for individual’s to network with people they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. The evidence from the study suggests that convergence culture will continue to play an important role in shaping the online experience of audiences in the future. It will continue to enhance the power and scope of social media. A far cry from an earlier manifestation as a collection of websites to the current multi platforms on which people communicate daily across multiple devices and time zones.




In 1968, as we’ve seen Star Trek fans undertook a campaign to say their TV show. Looking back on this event, is now it is possible to see the early trends of

participatory and convergence culture emerging. In a time when there was no internet, this example stands in terms of size and scale that to this very day remain comparable to online campaigns of a similar nature. Back then there was no way to account for how these fans came together. Today this type of action might be best described as being a convergence, so while participatory and convergence culture have been

around for a long time, it was not until invention of social media platforms that they really became the mainstream. Social media did not change the way people converge to participate as a collective, social media changed the scale of how many people could interact and participate at the same time.



Through the convergence and participation of the audiences, social media has dramatically changed the way people view, share and interact with media content. The effects of this vary across the types of media we have today, be it organising a presidential campaign, or petitioning a media company about a television series.

Social media empowers people to converge and then to participate together to form new outcomes, further more these tools shape the direction of the development of the media content itself, fans are now becoming active to a greater extent than ever before because of the way social media networks are breaking down barriers and

obstructions that previously prevented this from happening. This paper has shown that social media is the driving force behind a great deal of social change that is taking place at the moment, this is both a cultural and commercial phenomenon. TF2

provides us with an idea as to how these new commercial opportunities might one day look. On the cultural side there is the campaign for president of Barack Obama and


how interaction powered by social media changed the way people communicate directly with candidates and the media. We have also seen how from very small beginnings social media sites themselves have changed, from being small websites to large platforms. Facebook and Twitter can no longer be considered websites because they are not limited to just simply a desktop computer. Facebook and Twitter are now on phones, tablets and portable devices. As such they must now be considered platforms, in much the same way we might consider other platforms for connecting people such as email or SMS phone messaging. With these new platforms it is even faster for users to share information; Jenkins idea of spreadable media is very applicable to this development.



I investigated how TF2 has changed due to audience generated content. This model of the fans contributing to and making money from the content they create for the game is perhaps as important a moment as when the Star Trek fans first petitioned NBC to save their TV series. The commercial model used in TF2 has profound implications for future audience interaction with media content, and how an audience in the future may also become a key partner, co producing media content. It is possible that in the future audiences will be involved in the creation of films, television series and online content. It could be argued that it is already beginning to emerge as smaller niche social media networks are attempting to harness the power of audiences in new ways. Kickstarter is one such example, a micro-financing website that encourages users to contribute money to community causes or new products that require funding. Very recently a film project entitled Veronica Mars was launched on Kickstarter to raise funds to create a movie. Fans that made donations could directly participate in the

film depending on how much money they contributed to the project. This example serves as a template perhaps of what may come to be standard practice in the future. Based on the findings of this dissertation it is clear that social media will continue to profoundly shape the way in which we interact with each other across the entire planet. This will lead to further, greater opportunities to form a transcultural media

networks, helping to bridge divides through creating new richer and inclusive content.