Douwe Osinga's Blog: Why Convergence means we have to rewrite the law

Friday, November 28, 2003

A couple a days ago, I was writing about how I was busted in an Indian museum for bringing my phone, because it had a camera on it. No camera's alowed. A lot of museums everywhere charge extra for a video camera, for the same reason that Indian museums charge foreigners extra: market seperation. Charge people with more money more (also known as screwing your best customers).

These rules are under attack from Convergence of all machines digital. On the long run, the fundamental difference between all kinds of consumer electronics just disapears. There are camera's that also play MP3's, MP3-players you can use for data storage and Memory cards that play MP3's or even take pictures.

Everything is everything and that is indeed why I believe that in the end there can only be one and it will be a cellphone. It the end it doesn't matter how powerfull any device is, because Moore's law will make everything powerfull enough. The only thing that matters is whether you will be willing to carry it around. And of all cadgets, people carry their phone around most, so all cadget functions will migrate there.

Anyway, I'll get off my horse here, because I wanted to talk about rules and convergence. What makes a video camera? I usually carry my laptop in my backpack and it has a lense and is capable of taking video clips. So is my cell phone. The quality isn't too great, but to I have to pay extra when I go into a museum?

On planes you can't use a cellphone, but they don't seem to care people bringing laptops with WiFi (I never bought the whole cellphone can bring down a 747 to begin with; it would make things so easy for Al qaeda) In the Netherlands there used to be a special tax for TVs - but does a computer with a TV card make a TV? What if it streams the TV over Internet?

There are going to be a lot of laws which need revising, when it turns out that everything is everything. In a way this isn't new. An uncle of mine build a huge wheel as a new transport method. You sit inside of it and a motor makes it go around, while you keep at the bottom. He claimed he didn't need a carregistration or anything, because it wasn't in the books.