Dr. Henry Jenkins’ book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide is a must read for anyone studying fans and participatory culture. Here’s a summary from ConvergenceCulture.org.
CONVERGENCE CULTURE explores the ways relations between media producers and consumers are changing. Right now, it is assumed that consumers will participate in the flow of media but there is wide disagreement about the terms of that participation. As a result of digital media, consumers are acting as communities – what Pierre Levy calls “collective intelligence” – rather than simply as individuals. In this way, media consumption becomes a profoundly social process.
Ultimately, Jenkins argues that the debate over convergence will redefine the face of American popular culture. Industry leaders see opportunities to direct content across many channels to increase revenue and broaden markets. At the same time, consumers envision a liberated public sphere, free of network controls, in a decentralized media environment. Sometimes corporate and grassroots efforts reinforce each other, creating closer, more rewarding relations between media producers and consumers. Sometimes these two forces are at war.