Thanksgiving. It’s not just pre-Black Friday. As much as retailers try to shove this American tradition into the background to clear the way for all-out expansion of the shopping season, there’s still good reason to pause and take time to give thanks for the people, places, and things that brighten our daily lives. And in addition to the gifts of family and friends, it might also make sense to appreciate something else that has transformed modern life: Converged communications. Consider the following:
- In 1970, a typical international phone call cost $2.43 per minute (even more in modern dollars if adjusted for inflation). Today, depending on service providers and method of connection, such a call would cost a small fraction of that price – perhaps even nothing at all.
- In the early 1990s, the pioneering online service Prodigy limited users to sending 30 email messages per month and charged for each additional message. Today, services like Gmail allow virtually unlimited free email to anyone.
- In 1987, Radio Shack promoted its new “totally portable” but bulky cell phone. The price? $2,495. Today’s cheapest and most basic cell phones have far more features for thousands less.
- Before 1992, there were no text messages; the first text was transmitted on December 3, 1992. Even after that, it took several years for phone manufacturers to adopt the technology.
- Before the rise of cable television, TV programming was dominated by the three major networks: CBS, NBC, and ABC. Now, whether through cable, satellite, online video, services such as Netflix and Hulu, or other outlets, viewers have hundreds or even thousands of choices at any time.
That’s just a small sample of the possibilities available in the new communication universe. During Thanksgiving, we likely won’t think too much about that communication universe. In fact, there are few better times to lay aside the gadgets and concentrate on spending time with loved ones at home. But it’s worth stopping to appreciate the communication technologies that enable us to connect with people thousands of miles away. For many, they help to form a Thanksgiving table that spans states, time zones, and even continents.
Warm wishes for all converged communicators during this Thanksgiving holiday.