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From Convergence to Divergence

Mel is followed at ICA 2010 by Jack Bratich, who highlights the importance of convergence outside of media convergence, and also introduces the idea of divergence as the opposite of convergence - what are the conditions for social antagonism as a form of divergence, and how is such antagonism dissuaded and diverted? Reality TV, for example, is a set of dividing and organising practices that might produce a new kind of antagonism around the programme as a kind of subject.

Second, as media are now incorporated into more conventional practices (warfare and the military is one example), what are the conditions of dissent? Jack introduces the idea of polemology as the study of warfare (which gave us de Certeau's work on strategies and tactics, for example), and suggests that Jenkins now argues that fans have already won the war, so there is no longer a clear antagonism between fans and producers; Jack suggests, by interest, further research into the phenomenon of user-generated discontent.

The US has sponsored investigations into how youth movements could around the world employ new media tactics (bypassing censorship, forming social networks) where such dissent is directed against autocratic regimes, for example, and the use of Twitter on the streets of Iran was celebrated as an act of democracy, but at the same time, where such tools are used to organise dissent against the US government, users are prosecuted for 'criminal use of communication technologies' (essentially a form of low-level terrorist activity).

The distribution of power in networks does not replace sovereign power, then, but sovereign and network power in fact converge; the content of this is user-generated.

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