Black Box Fallacy

One idea about convergence is that all of our media will soon flow through the same hardware devices. Henry Jenkins argues against this idea, calling it the Black Box Fallacy (Jenkins, 14). The idea behind this theory is many different types of media functions will all stem from the same, single "black box". There is the concept of the black box that reaches us into our living rooms; the consolidation of our DVD players, sound systems, gaming systems, and our television systems all streaming into one little or big black box, allowing us to perform several functions all through our televisions. There is also the mobile scenario, such as our little black boxes that we carry around with us everywhere we go. The mobile scenario of convergance is already taking place. Some examples of these black boxes are Blackberry's, iPods and PS3s.
Jenkins argues that the Black Box Fallacy is wrong because it is based on the old idea of convergence that all media devices would converge into one central device. Instead, what we are seeing now is the hardware diverging while the content converges. What Jenkins means by the Black Box Fallacy can be seen with the example of email. Whether we are at home or in a grocery store, we send email in a variety of different ways depending on where we are. If you were at home, you would more than likely use your laptop or home computer to email, but if you were at the grocery store and needed to email urgently, you would use your Blackberry or iPhone for example. This is what makes the Black Box theory a fallacy. Companies are not sure which functions should be unified, which leaves the consumer to buy a variety of specializd appliances. Jenkins feels that this media convergence is more than a technological shift, that it changes relationships and logic by which the media consumers process news and entertainment (Jenkins, 15). This black box fallacy of convergence entails that there would be an endpoint, but convergence is instead a cultural process.










Works cited

Henry Jenkins; Convergence Culture, Where Old Media and New Media Collide
http://www.henryjenkins.org/2006/06/convergence_and_divergence_two.html
http://chrisstephenson.typepad.com/chrisstephenson/2007/04/the_black_box_f.html