Friday, August 25, 2006

Convergence

"Imagination is more important
than knowledge."

-Albert Einstein


One of the many buzz words used in describing the complexities of the "new" media is convergence. I think I got a good idea of what is meant this week. Oxford describes it as "a coming together or towards the same point." The guys at Google, however, have much bigger ideas. Simply put, they want to organise all the information in the world into accessible (through them of course) and convenient services. That's a big task. Personally, I enjoy turning the pages of a good book, and the feel it has in my hands. I don't really need to read everything online. I suppose some people do. That's what they are betting, anyway.

Because in farming I can spend hours sitting on a tractor, I like to be informed and entertained, and podcasts are a brilliant way of doing that. The concept of convergence dawned on me as I was listening to a BBC Archive documentary downloaded that morning, about what is actually going on in this fastest of growing internet companies, and enjoying the tour of their California facilities from my tractor in New Zealand by a British Broadcaster. That night, as I was channel surfing for a decent movie, I switched to the National Radio, where the same programme was being played over my satellite TV connection. That is convergence. The old model of having a "broadcast" pushed on us through one device is replaced by our ability to pull the content we want in a "narrowcast" delivery, i.e. when we like, how we like, and on what what we like. A growing number of different formats and distribution channels available on a growing number of different types of devices, all to reach a single point: the mind of the consumer. A quiet but very significant change in our media consumption patterns.

And don't think those admen aren't thinking of new ways to get you to consume more products as fast as they can in this new environment, either. That's why, when you do a Google search, your key words are sought out feverishly by companies who pay Google big bucks to have their ads come up in nanoseconds along with your search results, just in case you want to buy something related to whatever it is you are searching for. Pretty clever. Clever enough anyway to get the geek founders a few billion in their pockets.

A good friend and mentor once told me there was no shortage of information, only a shortage of attention. I think about that often, as I keenly take part in as many new media adventures as I am able. Not that I am addicted to information, it is more a fascination with the convergence factor that I am looking at. I like to stay informed in order to make personal choices that will best reflect my values and priorties. Social networking sites that have become so popular like MySpace and Facebook, have no appeal to me. I prefer to look someone in the eye and communicate, particularly if it is a matter of getting to know them for the first time. Typing in a social context? I don't think so.

And I am glad that those clever chaps that sit behind computer screens all day are coming up with useable gadgets, too. Like the record player that will play your vinyl, and convert (there it is again) it at the same time to a CD. I don't know, but I think the same is available for audiocassettes, another one of those anachronistic products from oh, so many decades ago. Although gathering from what the sage of sages Bob Dylan has to say in a recent Rolling Stone article, nothing much is worth listening to now anyway, because the recording is so poor. Having seen the Bob live in concert, I know what he means, but we have what we have.

In another universe, or one that exists outside of the digital realm anyway, the astronomers who seem to like to do this sort of thing, have decided Pluto is no longer a planet. I don't know what that means to my astrology chart, but hopefully they will find some more interesting science to report on in space other than nomenclature.

If that is a Mission Impossible, it won't be starring the overexposed and outspoken Tom Cruise, who has parted ways with one of the big studios in Hollywood, with all parties claiming the high ground. Never a fan myself, I recognise similarities to very cultish and arrogant behaviour in his shameless self marketing. What Scientology has to offer as a base of understanding has not been well served by his example in my opinion. Who knows, maybe they all did land here in space ships millions of years ago? Perhaps they could return and take their celebrity type converts back for some more relaxed re-programming. Converge, baby!

1 comment:

aja said...

Hi K.C.,
Even though I, like you, enjoy the feel of a good book in my hands,(though it sounds like you don't always have the time) I just thought I would let you know that you are one of my 5 new (to me) chosen ones.
Happy BlogDay.