What Is Convergence?

By Antonia Čirjak on February 1 2020 in Society

Convergence as an idea can be used in multiple ways.

When speaking of convergence, there are multiple perspectives we can take on what it actually means. It largely depends on the context. The word itself signifies two things (ideas, roles) coming together, or converging.

Pretty self-explanatory.

But when talking about convergence today, we mostly use it in situations dealing with technology and computing. In those contexts, convergence stands for the integration of technologies with different functions into a single device. A perfect example of convergence is smartphones. They allow us to make calls, use the internet, take pictures, and those are just some of their functions.

Technological Convergence

Technological convergence, as noted earlier, is the integration of several functions into a single device. In this context, convergence is a relatively new trend because we didn’t have the technological capabilities needed to implement it in a way that’s available to everyone. In the past decade, however, we have seen multiple examples of technologies converging. For instance, the most commonly used example is the smartphone. It allows us to handle the majority of our daily tasks through a device that fits in the palm of our hands.

Some other examples of convergence in technology are gaming consoles, which often have functions that allow us to watch movies on them, and in recent times they are being used for that purpose more and more. Televisions today will enable us to surf the internet. Even something as insignificant as using headphones not only to listen to music but also to answer phone calls can be considered convergence.

The Internet As A Catalyst

Everything that was previously transmitted by separate systems can now use just one that successfully performs every task we need. Before this large technological shift, voice, data, and video all used different channels for transmission but are now using the same protocols of communication. This is largely due to the more significant role the internet plays in everyday life. It has helped with technological convergence tremendously. Different forms of data, such as text, video, or audio, can all be accessed through the same medium.

Everything can be accessed through the same medium
Everything can be accessed through the same medium.

Previously we needed several different devices to perform tasks such as watching television, enjoying music, catching up on the news, or calling someone on the phone. Now all of this can be done on a single device, and the thing that makes it all possible is the internet. We can even make video calls, which was considered something that will be possible in the far future only a decade ago. All of this is technological convergence.

Other Uses Of Convergence

When not using convergence in the context of technological advancements, there are multiple other cases where it also happens. For instance, in biology, it can signify the inward movement of eyes toward one another in a person. It can also describe the process of obtaining the same biological trait in lineages that are not connected. It is also used in computing and mathematics.

Mathematics especially has several meanings attributed to convergence. The most commonly used is that it’s a quality shared by transformations of the same state. Although the transformation processes are different, they will all lead to the same result (converge). Convergence can also happen when people using different languages often communicate with each other, and the languages begin to become more similar. Convergence as an idea can be used in multiple ways, but in its simplest form, it always boils down to close integration of multiple functions into one. 

  

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