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By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences – (Jenkins 2006)
In today’s technology focused world, convergence plays a very important part. It allows us to connect more efficiently between media platforms and technology. Throughout the in depth of study of convergence, it has become evident that convergence greatly affects to the relationship between media technologies and audiences. Technology and its devices are becoming increasingly intelligent and clever everyday, and this is because we as humans are doing the same, which can be linked to the rise to the concept of prosumption.
The relationship between technology and it’s audience is as strong as it’s ever been at the present time, with us as humans constantly surrounding ourselves with it and being so dependant of it. With this growth in convergence, and the clear shift in technology, some concepts and concerns have been raised. This includes the concept of ownership, and copyright issues that so often emerge in the technology world because of the rapidly growing flow of information through channels and platforms.
Introduction to Tinder
The phone application called Tinder uses this theory of convergence. Tinder was created in September 2012, to originally increase social interaction between students at a University in Southern California (Empson 2013). The application uses it’s audience’s Facebook profiles to collect information such as age and the user’s photos to create a type of online dating profile. The application then uses the user’s GSP device in the phone to track other Tinder users located in a certain range to match.
As mentioned before, another concept that has arisen because of convergence is “prosumers”, which plays an important part in the relationship between technologies and their audiences. This concept relates to Tinder relatively closely. Tinder is an example of an application that improves the more that it is used.
Alvin Toffler explains the concept of a “prosumer” to be a common consumer who actively helps improve or design the goods and services of the marketplace, transforming it and their roles as consumers. Within the application of Tinder, changes are constantly being made. This is because with the fast paced market of applications and the demand of new and better-improved technologies that society is showing. Companies such as Tinder need to keep up with the demand of its audience. For example, Tinder will monitor the habits and behaviour of its users, and make it easier and more pleasant for them to continue. This relates back to the importance of the relationship between the audience and the industry, as the main objective for companies such as Tinder is to keep the customer happy and satisfied with the product and service provided. At the same time, the concept of produsage can be included in the use of Tinder.
Produsage is defined as the shift of users from audiences to content creators (Jenkins 2008). This concept is defining technologies such as Tinder, where the audience is technically the producers. What is meant by this is that the content that is on the application, is uploaded by the users of Tinder; photographs, information and profiles. Another aspect of produsage is that the produces of the content, which we distinguished can be the audience, are also the ones who obtain the information or material. Produsage is another aspect that enhances the relationship between technologies and their audiences.
Tinder has brought many positive aspects and concepts to the dating world of today and this mainly falls under cultural convergence. The traditional idea of “online dating” has been transformed, and this is all because of the every changing world we live in. Since around 2002, online dating has originally been restricted to a computer, and users would each have a full profile stating all about their interests and hobbies, as well as pictures. However, on a Tinder profile, each user is allowed a maximum of 500 words to describe themselves, and a limit of 5 photos of their choice. This change in restrictions that Tinder has opted for is a reflection of the ideologies of its audience.
The average of Tinder users is 27 (The Weekend Australian Magazine 2014), a clear indication that the market that Tinder is targeting is the younger generation. The creation of this easy to use app really emphasizes the culture so present in the younger generation of today of “hookups” or “casual sex”. The want for long-term relationships using online dating is slowly dying, and the demand for quick hookups is becoming increasingly evident. The whole concept of Tinder, simple and shallow has proven to be very popular with the younger generation because of this. Tinder saw a hole in the market for quick hookups, and filled it. Another feature of Tinder that makes it so much more appealing to traditional online dating is the fact that it is a mobile application, and can be used anywhere. This feature works well in the fast paced lifestyle the younger generation seems to live.
As there have been mentioned, Tinder has bought many positives to the online dating market. However, there are a few issues and concerns that have been brought up about Tinder since it’s been released 2 years ago. A main issue was brought up about the security of the application. Interlude Security are a company who discovered a flaw in Tinder’s production that resulted in user’s being able to locate other people’s almost exact location, information that is supposedly kept a secret in the application (News.com 2014).
This discovery caused a lot of panic through many of Tinder’s users, and also members of the general public. The flaw was eventually fixed by Tinder, however concern was still present that another security flaw could easily be found. This whole saga affected the relationship that Tinder had created with its audience and users, which could have easily, in turn, affected the popularity and success of the application. This hole in Tinder’s system meant that the users location could be seen, which in turn, is potentially putting Tinder user’s safety at risk. As a result of the increase of flow of content within platforms, it’s easy for flaws like this to occur.
Another security issue with Tinder is the on going concern about basic online safety. We as a fast paced culture are constantly looking for the fastest and easiest way to do things. Hence why Tinder was so popular so quickly, people were looking for an easier way to date. The simplicity of being able to interact with complete strangers on mobile devices is far too appealing and hence why many security issues arise. The whole idea of “catfish” has recently been brought to attention in the media recently, with many cases of fake profiles and unsafe meetings occurring from online dating.
Again relating back to generational differences, online safety is a much more relaxed issue that it was 3 years ago. The fact that people are willing to allow an application to show their location to complete strangers is an indication of this.
Convergence is an on going process in today’s society and it will never end. It affects us as the audience, as well as the producers and the technologies we surround ourselves with. Whole platforms are being transformed, for example the dating world, to suit the wants and needs of the audience. Technologies are become increasingly intelligent, as its creators are which can affect us both positively and negative. Convergence will always lead to negative things such as security and copyright issues, but also the positives must be noted.
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