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The topic of "convergence" recently came up on a mailing list I used to read. Convergence in this sense is more than "your computer as the center of everything," but instead "your computer is is everything." The conversation came about a result of Microsoft's continued "push" into this area. The area in which your computer controls your TV instead of simply interacting with it. Your computer is your stereo. Your computer is your surround sound system instead of having a separate receiver.

Michael Winter had a funny post I thought I'd share (with his permission). The question? Who would want a phone attached to their monitor?

The same people who think you should use a computer to control the DVD you're watching on your television.

It's called integration. You take simple devices and "integrate" a computer between them. That way, when the integrated phone rings, the DVD player pauses, the volume mutes, and half a dozen MS apps launch in case you want to take notes, add the caller to your address book, send someone an instant message or email, and automatically record the conversation in case you want to listen to it again. It also checks to see if the caller is registered in the central MS database and if so, turns on your camera and starts streaming video of you from the integrated camera to the caller.

Then when you answer the phone , the computer displays a pretty blue screen, the DVD ejects, the television resets to full volume on channel 0, blowing out your speakers, and you get a dial-tone on the phone.

Oh, it also turned off the refrigerator/freezer and all your ice cream is melting, but you won't know that until morning.

Classic. 🙂

3 Responses to "Convergence"

  1. Microsoft Integration

    Just saw this great post by NSLog(); pointing to someone's commentary about what life will really be like when Microsoft achieves their grand integration plans.

  2. That's funny, but not fair. Refrigerators and DVD players are ALL composed of "objects" that can break...just like software objects. But what they don't have is the ability to wire any intelligence between disparate components. That's were convergence comes in.

    Take for instance the icemaker...convergence is what put it in the freezer and a distribution station on the door. Right now, something already monitors all those devices---YOU. I for one look forward to the day that my phone can gain intelligence similar to my IM client, and that my DVD player can automagically learn how to decode new and interesting formats.

    To darken the future of convergence by positing past problems is ludicrous; sure, things won't work right all the time, especially in the beginning, but the nice thing about software-based integration is the inherent malleability. Talk to someone who was around when they converged carriages and horsepower (engines)...things sucked at first, but have gotten much better now, you only had to buy ten or so cars to get to where we are today!

    One last thing--most of the people taking pot shots at convergence seem to have one of two mental images of computers: their PC or HAL. We really must stop thinking of computers as a thing, and more as a network. The real testament to "Convergence" will be the seamless and ubiquitous interoperation of many "computers". It's all in the clustering...

  3. Yes, well, the problem here is that we're limited by what I call the Law of Intelectial Limits: computers are only as smart as the person that programmed them.

    If it's Microsoft programming them, well… <input type>