Convergence is Child’s Play

The following is cross posted from my tech-blogging at www.mobilitysite.com.

convergence2 I have tended to pride myself on my level of technical savvy for some time now. At work or at play, I have more CPU power in my gear bag then would have been available in an entire office building from my father’s generation. Notebook, netbook, smartphone, MP3 player, PMP, portable game system, portable hard drive…I am a walking computer lab. I select my devices carefully and love each of them with a probably unhealthy fervor, but I have been eagerly awaiting true convergence and the ability to combine these devices effectively into a single package that could serve all my needs, all the time. Convergence, the holy grail of gadget fans everywhere.

Sure there have been a number of strong stabs at a truly converged device, but I have not been satisfied with any of them yet. I have been assuming that a true “all in one” device and usage profile is still a few years around.

It seems I was wrong. Such a technophile’s dream is NOT a few years away, rather it can be found today, right now, in your neighborhood grade school. How do I know? I was recently educated by my son’s fourth grade classmates.

By happenstance, I had to accompany my son and his class on a short fieldtrip one morning, and therefore I had to ride the bus along with nearly 40 Nine and Ten year olds for nearly an hour. Back in the dim and distant past I remember such bus rides, and they were times for making faces out the windows and throwing airplanes and spitballs and generally acting like a small, beautiful savage.

Not so with my sons class. As soon as the bus doors closed, the phones came out. Most of the kids have either plain old Nokia or Sony Ericsson feature phones (my son packs a Nokia himself), not iPhones or any other of the so called “superphones”. Were they making calls? Not as far as I could tell. They were doing pretty much everything but…such as:

  • Sending and receiving Text Messages
  • Reviewing the days class schedule on the schools WAP enabled website.
  • Checking their emails.
  • Writing notes to themselves for later.
  • Watching clips of cartoons.
  • Playing MP3s for their friends on tiny built in speakers.
  • Recording same friends singing along to MP3s.
  • Taking pictures.
  • Playing Java games.

These kids were packing more leisure-time usage into these simple phones then I get in the average day from my whole gear bag, and were doing it with the cool assurance of a generation who has never been without mobile phones or MP3s or Java or wireless connections. What’s more, it wasn’t making them the self-absorbed, isolated zombies the internet warns us will come of such devices. On that bus, technology was a social experience, tools children were using for sharing and mixing and matching. They weren’t discussing convergence on some tech blog while still carrying around heavy bags of techgear…they were living it out of their back pockets, with technology available cheap or free from any telephony provider.

Perhaps in the end, convergence isn’t about technology at all, but about people. I am, for better or worse, part of the PC Generation. When my father thought of a computer, he thought of massive, room sized mainframes, heavy iron. When I think of computers, images of desktop machines or notebook computers…portable, but just barely, fill my gadget-crazed brain

To my son, a computer fits in the palm of his hand and can do anything he needs it to do. He is part of the Convergence Generation, and doesn’t even think about it…using mobile technology designed to suit his needs is second nature to him, just part of his birthright, handed down from my father, to me, to him.

I can hardly wait to see what HIS son will think of when I say “computer”.

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1 Comment

  1. I can hardly wait to see what HIS son will think of when I say “computer”.

    The small round gem inset on his ring, or her ear stud, most likely–touch and the screen holographically rezzes in front of one eye. :)


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