Convergence in Technology
The concept of a “global village” or a united community around the world has only in these last few years become a concept widely thought of. However, it seems that the idea of a large-scale sharing of information has long been developing, whether intended or not.
The tools of communication have long served a single purpose, that of transmitting information from people to people. Direct communication was long ago realised with sign language and speech, but when people spread out, a kind indirect communication was needed. Thus we created (or rather, hired) the messenger. (Necessity is the mother of invention.) This evolved later into a postal service, connected around the world by a network of synchronised offices of a similar nature. For a long time, indirect communication was the only way to communicate over long distances. Once the telegraph came along, however, people were able to instantly communicate information over long distances. This evolved somewhat into the telephone, which spawned the radio and television. As these were developed, the efficiency and clarity of these transmissions improved, and this allowed the world to know what was happening anywhere else in the world at any given time.
At this same time, programmable computers were finally coming to be used. Information was input to these machines and stored on tapes that could be put onto different computers to be run. This paralleled postal mail in a form of indirect communication. However, computers were also already based in intercommunication, because computers are systems of smaller functioning devices connected to perform a function or process. The evolution of computers’ communicating then evolved by extending direct connections between these large systems, sharing information. With the invention of the modem, computers could communicate piggybacking a system that people already used. As the modem developed, communications speeds increased.
The state of convergence began when people were communicating increased types of information through these computers. First program data, statistics, stock market quotes, news, specific interest information, and finally personal information. Computers became a method of communication within themselves.
The increased usage of modems for things like e-mail and on-line forums came about even before the Internet. Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) had a short-lived but popular life in the years leading up to the many commercial Internet providers we see today. As communication increased in popularity in this on-line form, companies became conscious of these opportunities and began to advertise on-line. This mark a point of acceleration, because once Corporate America finds an opportunity to turn a profit, then almost anything can become a growth industry. BBSs became more elaborate with colourful interfaces, developed their own client software for ease of use, and formed networks...