Zoom Zooming through media convergence


Living in NJ, I often find myself behind the wheel of my car. I use that time to think and contemplate. As I was pondering all the ways media and technology converged, it occurred to me that part of that convergence was happening right in my vehicle.  Sounds like a stretch, doesn’t it? Well not really- allow me to explain.

Computer diagnostics in cars started in the 80s.  Computer diagnostics is basically when parts of the car are actually controlled and monitored by computers.  We would get more accurate engine lights, tire pressure warnings, etc. due to these computers in cars.  Once the computer entered the car, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before traditional computer uses became applicable within the vehicle.

In the past, if you wanted to get directions, you had to look at a map.  The most advanced map feature you could get in a car was a compass. Toyota had navigation systems in select cars in the 80s. But in general, they were unheard of. Then a little site called Mapquest arrived and we would run to Mapquest, pop in the addresses and print out the directions before our trips. Eventually luxury cars offered built-in navigation but most people bought portable navigation devices.  But neither of these had “up to the minute” information. If you wanted to know things like traffic, lane closures, detours, road work, accidents, etc., you would need to listen to the radio or watch the news prior to entering your vehicle.

My last car showed me where the traffic was and gave me a list of “incidents”. The one I have now actually redirects me live as soon as an incident or traffic jam occurs! This is information I used to get either online or on the news. And while GPS/Traffic reports are one example of digital media that is now available in your car, there are tons of others. I can literally check my Facebook, Twitter, listen to a book, call my mother, text a friend, listen to any television or radio show and see YouTube videos…from the dashboard of my car.  There’s something scary about that (probably that we should be paying attention to the road and not surfing Facebook). It makes me wonder what they will come up with next?



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