When obsolete technology meets convergence culture: The case of VHS videocassettes

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Technological developments have led to a rethinking of how obsolete media should be treated when it becomes relatively inaccessible. This article focuses on Video Home System (VHS) videocassettes in digital culture. Using semi-structured interviews undertaken with people who converted their videocassettes into a digital format, this study explores the notion of participatory and convergence culture. It shows how media innovation results in emergent roles and functions for videocassettes, attributing new experiences and meanings to both digital and VHS formats. Specifically, divergence helps videocassette owners control and manage family memories, strengthening ties between family members and relations between friends. This culminates in the creation of an inherited object of memory. The findings indicate a lack of confidence in technology, especially in its ability to preserve family memories. In addition, it was found that a sort of spiritual power is attributed to videocassettes, which prevents their owners from throwing them away. This study offers a model of the divergence process and a set of terms relying on research into religion transformations and human–technology relations. These frameworks can be applied to participatory culture, more accurately accounting for old versus new media user behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Convergence culture
  • VHS videocassettes
  • digitalization
  • divergence and convergence
  • media memory object
  • old and new media
  • participatory culture


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