CMM16 – Week Three

And now for something completely different…. convergence… oh wait. 😦

Sigh

More convergence. Again.

Ok, so we had a reading that wasn’t at all related to what we were studying (well I certainly didn’t see its relevance) and then we had to answer some questions on the Discussion board (see a theme yet?)

Week 3 Questions:
So far in the course we have heard a number of theorists discuss the concept of convergence, suggesting it is one of the key definitions of new communication technologies. Of course, it is not always easy to decide what is convergence, and what is simply technological development. Check out the video of Boston Dynamic’s “Robot Dog”: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww>.
Write a 100 word post discussing the video in terms of the definitions of convergence in the course readings over the last three weeks. Is the Robot Dog convergent technology? If not, why not? If you believe it is, explain what the converging technologies are. You must cite at least two academic sources to support your argument. Write a second 100 word post in response to someone else. Explain why you agree or disagree with them (be polite!), and use evidence to support your opinion. Link to a video (YouTube, Vimeo, or other) of a device that you think illustrates the principle of convergence.

POST

Whilst Hirst and Harrison (2012, p.183) argue that convergence is a joining of technologies, our Griffith Study Guide (2011, p. 27) clearly makes the distinction that “Convergence is not just about technologies coming together … – there are vast social implications which need to carefully considered.”

It is the social aspects of convergence where Robot Dog falls short. Whilst the advanced technology required to make this beast is remarkable, and it does utilise a variety of converged electronic gadgetry, it has had little or no impact on our social world or in the way we communicate. There is no change to our experience in our everyday life due to Robot Dog, nor does it alter the way we relate to one another.

Jenkins (2006, p. 8) put it best by stating: “Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes” and in light of this, Robot Dog is merely remarkable technological advancement.

References

Griffith-University 2011, ‘CMM16 New Communication Technologies Study Guide’.

Hirst, M & Harrison, J 2012, Communication and new media: broadcast to narrowcast, Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide, NYU press.

REPLY

Author: OM

Saxtoft (2008) states that convergence is an often misused buzz word used to represent new and trendy technologies (p17). Although he says there are many different definitions, from a technology standpoint convergence can be defined as “a general pattern in the evolutionary process, namely the tendency to bring entities together” (Saxtoft, 2008, p17).

Big Dog, developed Boston Dynamics in association with the US military, is “the first robot that can handle the unknown challenges of the battlefield” (Lerner, 2006, p72). Using a steel frame, single-cylinder engine, cameras, hydraulics, computer, gyroscope and accelerometers, the Big Dog brings together a variety of technologies in a clear instance of convergence by going far beyond existing technologies.

Saxtoft, Christian 2008, Convergence: User Expectations, Communications Enablers and Business … John Wiley & Sons Ltd, West Sussex.

Lerner, Preston 2006 ‘The Army’s Robot Sherpa’ Popular Science, April 2006, p72-73

———————————

Whilst I agree with you that the term ‘convergence’ can be overused and is often misused, I think that Robot Dog does not meet the criteria for converged technology, particularly in light of the need to assess the social impact of convergence (Griffith, 2011, p. 27)

Henry Jenkins (2006, p. 8-10) also agrees that convergence must have some form of social impact for it to be considered technological convergence. I believe Robot Dog is missing the ‘social’ segment for it to be considered anything other than a remarkable upgrade of technical skills and is an evolutionary development of electronics, rather than convergence. Although Saxtoft’s (2008, p. 17) description lends itself to supporting Robot Dog as convergence, I feel that without the social perspective, it’s definition seems more of general convergence than ‘technological convergence’.

References

Griffith-University 2011, ‘CMM16 New Communication Technologies Study Guide’.

Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide, NYU press.

Saxtoft, C 2008, Convergence: user expectations, communications enablers and business opportunities, Wiley.

 

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