Today we take for granted many uses of technology that were nonexistent just a decade ago. Furthermore, much of the technology that we can’t imagine living without today results from the convergence of media technology. In their chapter on convergence, Briggs and Burke provide a good working definition for the term convergence. They say, “The word convergence was subsequently applied to organizations as well as to processes, particularly the coming together of the media and telecommunications industries.” Over the last three decades I have lived to see many kinds of technology that previously existed in one form, come together with another kind of technology to make what we can’t imagine being without presently.
My world as it existed pre-convergence (P.C.)
The idea that a households in the U.S. would prefer to watch satellite T.V. over what was on “free” T.V. or that one could fathom paying to watch T.V. was absolutely unthinkable in the 1970’s. The closest exposure I had to satellite T.V. came as a result of the championship boxing matches such as Muhammad Ail Vs. Joe Frazier or Ali Vs. George Forman on Close Circuit T.V. which was then only available to the public by paying to get into a movie theater that had purchased the fight. Moreover, my world pre-P.C. had not heard of cable T.V. until the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with HBO and ESPN. However, not many people were willing to pay for T.V. viewing. Lastly, during this era the computer was really just being introduced as the technology that would eventually revolutionize the workplace. But again, not many believed that an individual would need or even want a personal computer.
My world after convergence (A.C.)
Technology made a significant shift toward convergence in the early 1990’s. This shift would have a tremendous impact in my world. I first recall the breakup of the AT&T monopoly in the 1980’s under Ronald Ragan. This came to be known as deregulation. It was because of deregulation that in the early ’90’s companies such as Sprint and Qwuest offered cheaper long distance phone service, through fiber-optics. This led to the same companies offering “car phones! If you have ever seen them they are huge! They are the equivalent of the “boom box.” As you may know, this technology is what led to the 1st cell phones in the mid 90’s. Also, at relatively the same time the information super-highway was just being introduced. By 1997, nearly every household is a subscriber to some form of paid cable T.V. network. By the turn of the century, dial up internet is a thing of the past and almost every home has at least 1 PC and the laptop is becoming the norm. But by mid-2000’s convergence is taken to a new level. The satellite brings integration in nearly all technologies. Through the satellite the cell phone can broadcast what was once only available on regular or cable T.V. It additionally provides full internet service as well as ‘free long distance calling while bypassing the need for fiber optics. But perhaps the most lucrative change that convergence has brought is the super sports networks. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball team was sold for a record 2 billion dollars this year. Unthinkable! That is until you realize that the Dodger franchise is about to launch a very lucrative Dodger sports super network worth easily 5 times what they paid for the team. The reason this is important to convergence is because the Dodgers network will allow Dodgers fans all over the world to purchase packages to view all the team’s games via cell phone, internet or satellite T.V.