Curling: Pre-converged communication in action

Curling stones

Photo Credit: Benson Kua

Ah, yes. It’s time for curling. If you’ve been following the Winter Olympics from Sochi, chances are you’ve seen this icy, strategic sport on a NBC Sports or CNBC broadcast. And, if you’re like many American viewers, you’ve wondered: Huh?

Viewed in another way, though, curling is an example of pre-converged communications. Why? Tune in for a couple of minutes and ponder:

* The conversation among curlers is not digital – it consists of analog sound waves that no computer can understand without translating them into digital format.

* There is no mediation – the curlers speak face-to-face without any kind of screen, interface, transcoding, and so on.

* Their discussions utterly lack modularity – no one can take a “slice” of the sound waves (without recording them in a digital format) and convert them to something else that makes sense.

In a sense, the on-ice conversations in this centuries-old Scottish sport can be viewed as a direct contradiction to the new media principles that converged communicators have read about from Lev Manovich. So if you’re still slashing through a dense forest of text for this week’s assignment, take heart: There’s still some old-fashioned, non-mediated, face-to-face communication out there, and you can find it in the world of curling. Just be sure to activate your TV, tablet, or smartphone app first if you want to actually see it without traveling to Russia.

For converged communicators interested in learning more about curling, try this informative link to the Potomac Curling Club in Washington.

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