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Non-convergence
December 1, 2009 - 9:27pm

I'm sitting in Boston's Logan airport, enjoying the free Google WiFi (until January 15th), preparing to fly to San Diego for ECAR Symposium 2009: Disruption, Adaptation, and Evolution.

For the trip I'm carrying a cell phone (Pantech Breeze - CNET calls ideal for "senior citizens and those with disabilities"), an iPod Touch, an iPod Nano, and a MacBook Pro. My backpack contains about 10 pounds of printed reports (mostly ECAR and EDUCAUSE publications), and a couple of Economist magazines. I'm carrying 3 power chargers across the country. I'm a picture of non-convergence.

Here is my fantasy for convergence in 2010:

1) The Small Screen: Yes, I know that today's smart phones can do everything that my current dumb phone, Nano, and Touch can do. But I like my small, tough, long-battery lasting flip phone with the physical keys. The iPhone just looks too big to run with. Each of my three handheld devices do a good job performing their discrete jobs. My Nano is mostly for audiobooks and podcasts. For the trip I've loaded up Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, by Ken Auletta. The Touch is a great way to quickly check e-mail, ready the NYTimes (whose iPhone/Touch App rules), and watch downloaded TED talks. The phone does nothing else but make calls (and maybe text). Will 2010 be the year that an all-in-one mobile convinces me to converge?

2) The Big Screen: My big computer is a MacBook Pro. Great computer, but not a great e-book reader. Perhaps convergence of the laptop and the e-book is simply not meant to be. Like bagels and peanut butter. E-books require e-ink. I think it is crazy that I'm carrying around stacks of printed reports when a perfectly good PDF version exists. But I don't like reading on a computer screen, so I continue to print and carry paper. Maybe I should just settle for three devices (smart phone, laptop, and dedicated e-book reader). I'm hopeful that someone will come up with a combination netbook / e-book reader (maybe with two screens - including one that is e-ink), or that e-ink somehow gets good enough to replace the traditional LCD screen (Cringely thinks so).

Do our students carry around so many devices and so much paper? Do you? Will 2010 (finally) be the year of convergence?

 

 

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