Here Lies the Future

Monday, March 22, 2010

Digital convergence has paved the way for a greener and easier future for humans around the world. Bringing together two or more different kinds of daily tasks into one media outlet is what digital convergence is all about. Smartphones, laptops, and converged IP networks are just a few examples of how new technology has revolutionized the way individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations carry out their daily life and work-related tasks. The advancement of technology has allowed for user generated content and downloading capabilities. Books, shows, movies, math calculations, and networking are all connected now through the same electronic device.

Below is a chart I created using mild examples of tasks that are now more convenient for people to complete:

Individuals use digital convergence in a number of ways in their daily lives. When one wakes up, they will want to check the weather on their digital HDTV or on the Internet, where they can check their e-mail, bank statement, social networking sites, bill payments, and more. Consumers no longer have to relocate to another room or building to complete many tasks throughout the day. With the invention of Apple's iPad, consumers
can now play games, read the newspaper, watch movies and shows, and download apps via the Wi-Fi or 3G on the new gadget. This technological device is like a hybrid between a laptop and a iPhone, minus the calling feature. Users can browse the Internet and use the touch screen interface as they please. If one is lost trying to drive to work or campus due to sudden closed roads, they can find alternative routes via their iPhone or any other technological device with access to the Internet. Yahoo! and Google both offer maps, with the latter providing people with precise pictures of physical roads and landscapes so they can identify where they are going properly. These points of digital convergence create tremendous potential for new products and services and entirely new markets ("Who's In Charge Here?").

Below is a video by PayPal conveying a  simple message:

Businesses can utilize this move to digital convergence by creating applications to use on these new gadgets and promoting their products. News organizations like The New York Times can make deals with other companies, like Apple, to have their papers provided digitally on their digital devices. If they want to, the news company can start having iPad users subscribe to their digital news. Further information on how the iPad can influence newspapers can be found here. Microsoft's e-book device is giving consumers a digital journal that has media playback features.

New ways to form digital convergence such as the iPhone, helps create tremendous potential for new products and services as consumers, for the first time, influence not only which innovations succeed in the consumer market, but also in the enterprise space ("Who's In Charge Here?"). Below is a chart of standards that users expect as new products come out. I doubt I will ever go to a store and buy a cell phone that only makes calls and text messages. My standards have been raised with the unleashing of all these products with digital convergence. There must be a calendar, a calculator, three-way call features, Internet, games, music...and a whole host of features.

How does this relate to the Long Tail of Distribution? Companies no longer have to create many physical applications or devices to carry out a single task. For example, Apple can come out with revolutionary devices like the iPhone and iPad, and then make money off of letting other companies like PayPal provide "apps" for their devices. High tech cell phones help people stay connected with the world even more than they can with the television. Shelf space is minimized and costs are reduced. There is no need for the expense of physical distribution or transportation. With laptops and Internet, the opportunities are much greater.
People can receive breaking news in their e-mail, read breaking news on sites like CNN, and use everything on their new technological devices as democratizing tools. People can use blogs and social networking sites to share their opinions and petitions. CNN allows ordinary people who are not reporters to send in stories and pictures to allow them added participation aside from blogs and comments sections. When it comes to Creative Commons, people finally have a way to utilize media to share while protecting others' copyright material. People can put licensing on their own material and blogs.

My prediction is that ten years from today, we will have a world that is centered around digital convergence. Gone will the be days of simple cell phones that only call and text with calculator and calendar features. No more desktop computers with a few peripherals to connect only a few media outlets. I think that our nation will have a nationalized version of Wi-Fi or WiMax that will allow all digital media, whether it is digital television, computers, cell phones, and more media to be connected through one frequency. Someone would be able to use their television to check their phone, use their phone to connect to their laptop, or use their laptop to listen to the radio....oh wait, that's already happening! My point is, technology is advancing so quickly in our world that I believe that eventually everything will be connected. Reading the text in my Communications 220 class at UM-D has given me this philosophy that eventually everything will be interconnected.

The future will still be going on by the Long Tail of Distribution because physical space will be shortened. I actually do believe that people will be shopping by holograms and there really won't be a need for physical stores. Here is a very interesting link to some gadgets that are predicted to come out in the future. My hopes are that these companies will stop competing with each other and that we don't completely become dependent on technological devices. I fear that if we do so, then that will the end of a community of people in our nation since everyone will be too busy with their gadgets. Also, if there is a world crisis, such as an attack on a national network that connects many devices, many of us would be without power and information. Maybe I sound cynical and fearful right now, but hey, maybe all those technology-focused books and movies about the end of the world  are onto something!

Works Cited:
All Images Obtained Via Creative Commons (appears in order of appearance in post):

All Sources Cited in Text:

Campbell, Richard. Media and Culture . Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.

Patel, Nilay. Microsoft's Courier Digital Journal. engadget, 05 03 2010. Web. 19 Mar 2010.

Who's in Charge Here?. IBM, 26 10 2006. Web. 18 Mar 2010.

1 Comment:

Communication In Cyberspace said...

Great blog!! That was fun to read and I enjoyed looking at that chart you created. I have to admit, my android phone it great! I use it for everything, email, call, text, pay bills, get directions and several other things. You are right everything sooner or later will be interconnected. In regards to shelf space, it is a good thing because we will run out of actual space eventually and with the Long Tail, we will never run out of space for our digital information.

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