Snapchat and Convergent Culture Creation

 

Since its initial release in 2011 the mobile app Snapchat has undergone many changes. It first was used to send pictures for a set amount of time; it now does that and much more. After video, and text were added to the app came the feature “my story” which is a montage of content that users broadcast from their profile, and then “our story”, which broadcasts large physical gatherings such as events or sports games. By watching a “live story” Snapchat users can easily get an inside look into events going on around the world. Snapchat users are becoming “produsers”, “people who, when online continually combine some kind of using and producing of information” (77).

According to Deuze, “The new human condition, when seen through the lens of those in the forefront of changes in the way work and life are implicated in our increasingly participatory media culture, is convergent” (74). Media is a big part of our everyday lives. Often we create media ourselves, because technology gives us the opportunity to edit, annotate and create content. Snapchat gives users the ability to participate in this convergent culture, by not only creating our own stories, but by also adding to bigger worldwide stories.

It is no surprise that media outlets have decided to cash in by joining Snapchat. Many media makers have made their own Snapchat accounts sharing behind-the-scenes looks to their users. This is a very attractive option to media outlets because as Cory Haik, an executive producer at the Post explains, “you produce something in the palm of your hand and someone else sees it in the palm of their hand. It’s like a tunnel to someone. It’s entirely different than any other medium that we’ve used or are using” (USA Today).

Snapchat’s “Discover” feature has given big media names such as Buzzfeed, People, CNN, ESPN, Mashable and others the chance to create their own stories that every Snapchat user can look at everyday. The “Discover” feature is different from stories because it allows editorial tams to show text and video content such as articles in a different way. It isn’t just a compilation of videos or photos shown for a limited amount of time, instead it is articles with video and photo gifs and other features that users can swipe through and read.

Snapchat is creating convergence in two different ways, with corporate-driven content and consumer-driven content. According to Henry Jenkins,

“Convergence is both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom up consumer-driven process. Media companies are learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across delivery channels to expand revenue opportunities, broaden markets and reinforce viewer commitments. Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users. They are fighting for the right to participate more fully in their culture, to control the low of media in their lives and to talk back to mass market content. Sometimes, these two forces reinforce each other, creating closer, more rewarding relations between media producers and consumers” (74-75).

Snapchat not only gives users a chance to contribute their own stories to viewers, it also allows corporations to also share their stories. As Jenkins points out these two processes of cultural convergence can reinforce each other. Corporate stories shows gives users a whole new view of media outlets, while user stories gives corporations a better understanding of what kind of people are using Snapchat. Snapchat has given users the ability to control what kind of media they consume and produce. By creating an app that is driven by user-produced content, Snapchat has honed in on the convergent culture that technological advances has made possible.

Sources:

Deuze, Mark. Media Work. Cambridge: Polity, 2007. Print.

Zembriski, James. “Snapchat Opening the Door for a New Way of Journalism.” USA Today. 6 March 2014. Web.

 

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