The first computer is the root of many contemporary technologies including cell phones, laptops, and other digital technologies. It is my belief that as of the present moment the technology of the Electronic Tablet is the closest example global culture has of the reconvergence of computing technology. The combination of decreased hardware size, and progressively developing digital software has allowed the creation of Electronic Tablets (or E-Tablets) such as the Kindle Fire, Nook, and perhaps most famously, the iPad to come into existence. It is only fair to mention that E-Tablets or simply Computer notepads have been around since the 1990’s thanks to companies like Fujitsu and Sharp (Intertec, 1991). However it is only in recent years that the technology has grown popular following as it has finally developed into a true example of technological media convergence. Now it would take entire chapters to properly explain the multiple uses of E-Tablets and how they work. As I am not an experienced novelist I will try to stick to the basic concepts. First, to better describe why E-Tablets are such a prime example of modern technological convergence perhaps it is best to start off with a rough list of other electronic technologies E-Tablets are capable of replicating in purpose.
“a boxlike device for holding a film or plate sensitive to light, having an aperture controlled by
a shutter that, when opened, admits light
enabling an object to be focused, usually by means of a lens,on the film
or plate, thereby producing a photographic image.” (Dictionary.com)
“a portable, handheld camera that records onto videotape for playback, especially on a
television screen.” (Dictionary.com)
“an apparatus, system, or process for transmission of sound or speech
to a distant point, especially by an electric device.” (Dictionary.com)
“Also called processor. an electronic device designed to accept data, perform
prescribedmathematical and logical operations at high speed, and
display the results of these operations.
Compare analog computer, digital computer.” (Dictionary.com)
“an apparatus for receiving or transmitting radio broadcasts.” (Dictionary.com)
While each of these individual devices inarguably perform their sole function at a higher level of quality, E-Tablets can perform all of these functions and more, more than well enough to suit casual day to day usage. Without personal experience using an E-Tablet in may be hard to imagine how this could be true, how a singular device could perform all of these functions, let alone well enough to produce satisfactory results for the user. How could one hand held device record live images, allow a person to speak with another individual electronically, tune into the radio, and run complex programs? The answer lies in the software. In the development of the Internet and of the World Wide Web in the 90’s. This technology, along with the development of wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) are what have allowed the amazing contemporary technologies of E-Tablets (and smart phones) to exist. The Internet and the World Wide Web have also created a vast online market for both new and old businesses to take advantage of.
The motivation for this technological divergence, at least for corporations, is the economic potential it provides. Perhaps the most universally successful online Website has been Amazon.com a company that was founded in 1994 and has kept pace with the technological developments of their trade every step of the way for close to a decade. The success of Amazon however, at least in the public eye paled in comparison to the media frenzy surround Apple iTunes. By the 2004, only a few short years after its release iTunes possessed control of around 50% of online music sales, making millions of dollars per annum (Graham, 2004). Amazon took steps to take even greater advantage of the online economy. With their online store already in place Amazon began to expand its selection of products to keep up with competition. Soon after iTunes Amazon offered its own music service, one that they claimed was more customer friendly.
E-Tablets take advantage of this online market by using their wi-fi connectivity to link with the internet and download countless programs or “apps” onto a single device. This allows that one device to take advantage power of the internet (the power to connect to all other devices on the same network) and in sort learn how to perform most of the same basic tasks. Once E-Tablets became a marketable media product both companies threw themselves into the competition, and many others such as Barnes and Noble with their Nook tablet jumped on the bandwagon.
I can best describe the Kindle Fire HD as it is the E-Tablet that I personally own and use on a regular basis. Much like iTunes the main page offers a reel of apps that you most commonly use. On the top are a list of functions that the user can search through, including books, photos, and the web. Most notable however it the Kindle’s “shop” function. Upon selecting the user is taken to Amazon’s online store where they are presented with countless software items that they can download onto their device. Beneath each item on the main reel are even suggestions for future purchases based upon interest.
Perhaps it is because of the E-Tablets’ huge potential for economic growth and flexibility that they face many legal problems involving copyright. The main appeal of an E-Tablet such as the Kindle Fire is the multitude of media it provides the user access too. Now while this is incredibly convenient to the user, it falls upon the producer of the product to obtain the copyrights necessary to sell these media materials. Failure to properly do this can lead to legal consequences such as the case of New York Times against Amazon back in 1999 for merely using the New York Times’ best seller list as part of their online store (AFX News, 1999). Overtime the online media environment has only become more and more complicated thanks to its growing diversity.
Companies handling digital media have to be extremely careful when it comes to handling copyrighted material, which is why many of them, most famously Apple, have very strict policies regarding the use of their products. The debate over the definition of digital property in an event that is occurring in many fields of the media, and it is unlikely to end soon. It has become clear however, despite the past and present copyright issues faced by online stores, E-Tablets, basically a physical medium to store and access content from these stores have been enormously successful.
In a cultural and technological age where speed and efficiency are keywords for a products relevance, the convergence of multiple technologies into these E-Tablets make them highly desirable, as portable, and multipurpose electronic devices. The versatility of this newly popular technology not only makes it highly desirable to users, but adaptable to the ever changing media environment. The E-Tablet is perhaps the closest modern day example of Turings Universal Machine (Campbell-Kelly, 2002).
Campbell-Kelly, M. (2002). Turing and the universal machine: The making of the modern computer. British Journal for the History of Science, 35(127), 482-483. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/215740147?accountid=13420
Educators get a technology boost. (1991). Telephony, , 16. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213970150?accountid=13420
Amazon.com faces legal action by new york times for copyright breach. (1999, Jun 04). AFX News. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/449354385?accountid=13420
Jefferson, G. (2004, Apr 26). Rivals mix up digital music ; competition grows for iTunes, which has 50% market share. USA TODAY. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/408957498?accountid=13420
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