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Digital Convergence: Then and Now

Finger pointing to a place on a paper map.

Digital convergence is life.

Digital Convergence is using technology to merge and reconfigure older separate media into new, multimedia across a variety of platforms.


I am glad you asked. Come with me to 1991.

It’s a Tuesday morning, you wake up, start a pot of coffee and settle in to read the morning paper. After you’ve picked up the paper from your front yard, you read the front page to take in the image accompanying the big news of the day and filter through the rest of the stack for your daily dose of sports, business and entertainment news. You might save a section for later or might cut out an interesting article. When finished with the paper, you carry on with your morning routine, shower, dress and go to work.

Back to 2017.

Your local paper is digital and you can read it on your laptop, smart phone, tablet or have it read to you by Alexa or Siri. You can bookmark articles, email the author, give feedback about it in the comments section, watch embedded videos and scroll through photos that accompany your story and encourage others to read the story by sharing it on your social media sites. That’s digital convergence.

While newspapers haven’t gone out of style, the format has evolved considerably and we, as consumers in the digital age, want to consume media whenever and however we choose. We’ve been spoiled by convenience and access as a result of digital convergence and can’t imagine having it any other way. Luckily for us, there’s no going back.

Personally, digital convergence is a blessing and a curse. For example, I read my daily news subscriptions, Time Magazine’s The Brief and The Skimm, every morning. One is concise and contained to the body of the email with few external links, but the other lives on the web…with ads and suggested articles.

Without fail, I find myself 30-minutes and five-unrelated-stories-later on a blog somewhere laughing at memes. While it’s a convenience, the distractions and rabbit holes are endless!

Conversely, as a blessing, digital convergence has made life much easier. Here is an infographic with my take on the evolution of printed maps thanks to digital convergence:

As illustrated, it is now much easier to get around.

One of my favorite wayfinding apps, Waze, is a community-based traffic app. It guides using streets with the least amount of traffic and enables users to pinpoint construction, stalled vehicles, police and accidents where they appear on the route. For example, on Saturday morning, I was on the highway and traffic was at a standstill. I checked Waze and a fellow user in the same traffic jam posted the backup was due to an overturned pickup truck and trailer blocking the two right lanes. This information gave me the opportunity to exit the freeway and take another route.

Thanks to the convergence of printed maps, mobile phone technology, audio and messaging, we are able to get to our intended destinations quicker and more accurately.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come and where we are headed as products are developed that offer us a more convenient way to access our daily media.

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