Sep 21, 2009

Media Convergence

The chapter “The Globalization of Communications” in the The Information Revolution and World Politics by Elizabeth C. Hanson provides a brief history of communication technologies including telecommunication, satellites, computers, and the Internet, in a global context. Hanson also discusses vertical versus horizontal integration. Vertical integration is the control of the production and distribution in only one medium whereas horizontal integration is control across several mediums.

The three communication branches discussed in the chapter are telecommunications, audiovisual, and computer-mediated communication. As soon as these three categories were brought up in the reading, I immediately began thinking about the convergence of these media and specific products like the iPhone and Skype (which were both briefly mentioned later in the last section of the reading) that transcend the three branches. I was slightly disappointed that Hanson did not discuss the convergence of media and media branches until the last section of the chapter entitled, “The Revolution Continues.”

Apple’s iPhone3G (and some other devices offering a 3G or third generation network) is probably the best example of the convergence of media branches. The iPhone is a cell phone, mp3 player, video player and recorder, camera, digital compass and GPS, game console, internet device, and messager, not to mention the hundreds of applications available consisting of everything from calorie counters to money managers to mobile piano keyboards.

Skype is another example of a technology transcending boundaries. The chapter discussed Skype in terms of facilitating telecommunications, but Skype is well known for its video conferencing abilities. This medium combines telecommunications with both computer-mediated communications and audiovisual products.

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