Communication Convergence

In the past 12 months, many things have happened. The world has seen an unprecendented global shakedown of financial services, America welcomed in a black president, a well respected and seasoned newspaper filed for bankrupcy, and the catch phrase “chk chk boom!” entered the Australian vocabulary. Just to name a few. And every one of the events of the past 12 months has been recorded, distributed, discussed and discovered on the interwebs.

The likes of Google, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, YouTube, and blogs have all taken over as the main repositories of information slash entertainment, and left traditional media like Television and Newsprint for dead. This grass roots approach to the way we collect, share and distribute information is literally changing the way we communicate to one another.

Your world is converging

The world is now indexed via a myriad of search engines. What you “say” can and will be heard by everyone who knows you or knows someone who knows you. More interesting still, it can be heard by someone you’ve never met before, from the other side of the world, or right around the corner. All within minutes of you “saying” it.

Chk Chk, Boom!

About a month ago, Australia was introduced to Clare Werbeloff – the “Kings Cross Bogan” – who after seeing a camera crew filming a crime scene in the wee hours of the morning and asking for witnesses, offered her “eye-witness” account in all its gory bogan detail:

From TV, to YouTube hit, back to TV within a couple of days, Clare’s satirical fat wog skinny wog routine made the news twice. Once – because the media was ready to believe the story of a pretty eye witness; and twice – because the world discovered that the story was a complete fabrication. But once the “Chk Chk Boom” genie was out of the bottle – there was no putting it back in.

Electing a President

2008 was the year of the election. More than any other election in history, the 2008 US presidential run-off was a convergent communicators wet dream. From traditional 24 hour news network coverage, we’ve moved to election day “blow-by-blow” maps showing the votes as they rolled in (with both web users and TV audiences sharing the same information); and further still. Take for example Obama’s inaguration – where CNN utilised Microsoft’s Photosynth software to make a 3D experience of the very moment Obama took office with photos taken by inaguration attendees.

But that was the sponsored media. What of the so-called “average Joe” ? Well, Obama had that covered. From Facebook, to YouTube and beyond, Obama leveraged the social web to effectively bipass traditional media and speak directly to his supporters. Admittedly, he was a perfect storm – black, well spoken, NOT Bush. And in turn, his supporters spoke back.

My world is converging

This blog was started way back in 2002, and in the beginning, it was my sole way of yelling into the void. Since then, the social web has really taken a grip of how I communicate, and how I share information. So now, when you come to this site – you not only see posts like this one, you see my other activity. My homepage shows my twitter feed, my shared google reader feed, my delicious feed – all without me having to lift a finger. When I tweet, Facebook knows about it automatically, and updates my status. When I make a blog post, Facebook and Google Reader know about it and push the content to interested peeps like you.

And when I turn on my iPod, all this activity is within my reach, in an interface designed to be invisible, on a device designed to be used. And all similar activity from my internet friends is also visible – again, without me needing to do anything.

The Future… Riding the Wave?

Is it any wonder then that the king of the interwebs Google, would spend time developing a protocol to formalise these myriad interactions? Google Wave is touted as the email killer, but I think it’s more than that. I think Google has been (yet again) extremely clever in understanding that from here on in, our conversations will be collaborative, and the devices we read those conversations on will be varied and convergant both at the same time.


And while we could continue as we are currently – digesting twitter feeds, delicious bookmarks, shared RSS items, blog posts, Facebook statuses et al each using their own formats and technologies customised for various devices – the notion of an all-encompasing protocol built specifically with our future convergent communications in mind is very appealing.

If the last 12 months were the year of communication convergence, just imagine what the next 12 will be like.