I have written about convergence of technologies in an earlier post, this article discusses the application of this technology in people’s homes, and how they utilize this technology to communicate with their family, friends and acquaintances. This Swiss study was conducted by eleven researchers (5 anthropologists, 4 psychologists, and 2 sociologists) who engaged in a longitudinal ethnographic study. They observed the research subjects in their homes and noted how the subjects communicated with people, to who they communicated with, when they used a certain communication medium, and what was the content of the communication and why they chose a certain medium to communicate with certain people.
It was interesting to observe that the closer (in the inner sphere of the social network) the friend or family member to the research subject, the more diverse the communication tools (SMS, cell phone, IM, etc.) that were employed, whereas those on the outer sphere (acquaintances) had one or two methods of communications. With more diverse forms of communications, it allowed for greater possibilities for different situations.
The different communication tools were used for different purposes even amongst different people. For example, the home telephone was primarily used to communicate with family friends or relatives. This was so that everyone in the family could communicate to these people. Mobile phones were more personal, and were used for close friends and family. Further discussion about this was discussed in this earlier post. SMS text messaging and IM were popular among the younger demographics to communicate with their group of friends at anytime during the day. This topic was also discussed in this earlier post. Email was used to exchange electronic files among family and friends, and if the research subject belonged to a club or an association, email was used to coordinate activities with these groups. For acquaintances, tools such as Facebook and MySpace were used, where acquaintances were kept as contacts with minimal effort and yet easily accessible anytime. With all these communication mediums, researchers have found that none of the emerging mediums cannibalized existing ones, users found different methods to use the medium with different purposes.
From an advertising perspective, this could be useful. I think by understanding the communication patterns of various people, and how they communicate as well as use the various tools in the age of convergence where an ever-increasing number of tools are available is very important. Now, the question is how to make the advertisers message resonate and relevant to the intended audience.