Looking Back at Convergence and Persona: Lasting Theories in Digital Spaces

For Throwback Thursday, we’re looking back at seminal works in new media theory.

Convergence is not a new theory. It has been around for more than a decade. Henry Jenkins’ oft cited work Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide was published in 2006.

“Media convergence is an ongoing process, occurring at various intersections of media technologies, industries, content, and audiences,” according to Jenkins. As humans become more digital, more intersections are created, changing the way the audiences partake and interact with information, entertainment, and marketing in addition to so many other sources. In social media and digital marketing, the changes can be the most dramatic.

Not only must marketers be aware of target audiences (e.g., boomers and millennials), they also have to contend with personas (i.e., user archetypes). Consumers are not static entities; they do not behave with consistency in online and offline spaces. In her 1995 work, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, psychologist Sherry Turkle explores how people interact with computers and the consequences of those types of interactions. Her findings still hold true: “we no longer give ‘commands’ to a machine; we enter into dialogues, navigate simulated worlds, and create virtual realities.” The interactions in these digital spaces are not between human and machine, but between people—users engage in conversations, exchange ideas and feelings, and assume personae of their own creation.

Brands must constantly be aware of convergence and personas as they utilize and grow with shifting technologies.