Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More on convergence

I noted recently the references to convergence between computers and communications dating from 1972. I was wondering what the earliest sources are on convergence and media.

The first identified source according to many authors is Nicholas Neproponte. In the International Handbook of Internet Research Anders Fagerjord notes in a footnote that "Stuart Brand reports that Negroponte used it in 1973" citing (I think) Brand's book The Media Lab. (I haven't seen the book to be able to check).

Negroponte's provenance is also asserted by Rich Gordon's Convergence Defined in USC Annenburg Online Journalism Review of 2003. He writes;

And as early as 1979, Nicholas Negroponte of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was using three overlapping circles in discussions with business executives he hoped would fund his research. His three circles were labeled "Broadcast and Motion Picture Industry," "Computer Industry" and "Print and Publishing Industry." He predicted that the overlap between the three circles would become almost total by 2000. The executives he addressed found it a compelling vision. He won millions of dollars in financial support from them, enabling MIT to open its celebrated Media Lab in 1985.

Rich also credits Ithiel de Sola Pool with the term "convergence of modes" in his 1983 book The Technologies of Freedom.

Writing a World Newspaper Association report Convergence: Fact or Fiction in 2001, Martha Stone also credited Negroponte for the use of the term.

Since the concept of media convergence was introduced in the early 1990s by Nicholas Neproponte, author of the 1995 digital revolution forecast Being Digital convergence has taken on a variety of of meanings: convergence of media types, of media company departments, and of content. For Negroponte, convergence starts with "bits", or the digital DNA of information. Converged bits become multimedia. The digitization of information has created the convergence revolution.

Negroponte is better known by some for the "Negroponte Switch" which states "that wired technologies such as telephones will ultimately become unwired by using airwaves instead of wires or fiber optics, and that unwired technologies such as televisions will become wired" Perhaps worthwhile for review by those talking about new access technologies. (Evidently Negroponte called it "trading places", George Gilder gave it its current title)

So I think we now have a claim of 1973 in the name of Negroponte. Any advance on that?

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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