online communities

In Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture, he discusses how new and old forms of media are interacting and coming together. He spends a good deal of time talking about collective intelligence, which he defines as the "ability of groups of virtual communities to leverage the combined expertise of their members" (page 27).

Collective intelligence has had a major impact upon the presence of television shows online. Viewers are able to gather together online to discuss, collaborate, and theorize about past and future episodes. Jenkins focuses on the show Survivor, which I can actually relate to a lot. Back in the early days of Survivor, my brother got completely hooked on the show. At first it was just a devout dedication to watching the show, then he pulled my parents in and made it a family affair. This continued for awhile, with my brother constantly adding new aspects to go along with a viewing of the show, such as betting on who would be voted off that night or who would win immunity. Eventually, however, my brother came upon the realization that there were other crazy intense Survivor fans out there, and he realized that he could reach these people in the form of online communities. My brother became obsessed with online Survivor games and discussion boards. As Jenkins says, members "may belong to more than one community at the same time" (page 27), and my brother certainly did this. The reason that my brother and so many others were drawn into this phenomenon was because of collective intelligence. The ability to learn more by pooling collective knowledge from around the world, before normal viewers have a chance to see it on the show, is a very captivating concept.

This idea also fits in very well with Lostpedia (just because I haven't talked about this enough already). As Jenkins writes, sites like Lostpedia "serve as sites for 'collective discussion, negotiation, and development,' and they prod the individual members to seek out new information for the common good: 'Unanswered questions will create tension... indicating regions where invention and innovation are required'" (page 27). On Lostpedia there is no lack of unanswered questions, since whenever Lost answers a question it gives us three more, so there are plenty opportunities for "invention and innovation". The two main areas that accomodate for this are the discussion pages and especially on the theory pages. People imagine their own storylines for the characters and try to piece together clues to figure out what exactly is going on in Lost and what is going to happen next, and these theories are given a voice through online communities and they are added to the pool of knowledge through collective intelligence. Personally I think that this is a remarkable ability that we may sometimes take for granted.