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Next Week, New Orleans hosts the New Orleans Media Experience, a city wide festival focused on media convergence, arguably the first event of its kind in the world. It’s a film festival, a game tourney, a series of concert events, and a conference program rolled into one with the eye of examining the cultural and economic ramifications of convergence. They define the term very broadly and almost totally without regard to its technological meanings (i.e. the blurring of delivery technologies). The underlying assumption here is that we are already living in a convergence culture – that content and audiences move fluidly across media even if they are not joined technologically.

Stewart Yerton, a business writer for the New Orleans Times Picayune, offers a good introduction to convergence for people who want to attend the event. Being a business writer he mostly focuses on the economic side – the role of product placement and advergaming in the new media landscape – but he also acknowledges that there are some core aesthetic and social issues to be worked out if we are going to provide entertainment or tell stories in this new landscape.

Almost as if to demonstrate the importance of these trends, I received notice about a new project involving the intersection of television, Tivo and the internet. AOL has announced a plan to offer twenty-second clips of the five most talked about moments from television the previous night. The selection will be based on their monitoring of chatrooms and message boards and based on data from Tivo usage. It’s scary how much the media industry now knows about audience response and how quickly it can act on that information!

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