6th February '12
It’s been a buzzword for years now – convergence. But what does it mean? And is it a good thing?
We think so. For decades, both in the workplace and at home, consumers have required machines to perform more than one function to earn its place. The humble washing machine – try finding one that isn’t also a tumble drier. Your television now performs many more functions than just watching shows – many pipe weather forecasts, sports results and even the Internet itself into your living room.
The same goes for computers. Once, a computer was easy to define – ten years ago it was a large, lumbering mess of cables that family members fought over each evening. But now… miniaturisation and evolving technologies such as touch screens have made convergence more important than ever before.
Where once you may have owned a portable television, a camera, a Game Boy, a calculator, a GPS, an mp3 player… you now own a phone, that does all these things.
So convergence is good, right? It certainly is convenient to have all these features at our fingertips. However…
Example: we’ve been able to take a camera anywhere we like for many years. So why don’t we? Because it isn’t always appropriate. We don’t need pictures of the foyer at the cinema. No one really cares what pizza you got three weeks ago. But when you have a camera with you, the temptation is great to start snapping away anyway.
The same goes for many of the functions of the modern smartphone. Constant connection to modern social networking sites and immediate access to involving computer games can be too great a distraction for many, and become a burden when there’s work of any kind to get done.
That said, I love my phone. I’ll never need to buy another portable device again, provided I can avoid dropping it in the sink. And when I can control my urge to play games and take pictures at random, it is a helpful tool that saves me time on a daily basis.
The tech is changing quickly, and anyone using it needs to change their habits to match. Self control and patience are important, and something that we as people will soon forget if we have everything we need, all the time.