SCL 8th Annual Conference: Convergence 3.0

June 21, 2008

We are all familiar with the current revolution in convergence. The young especially see that communications tools can provide information and entertainment and dedicated entertainment devices offer options that could scarcely have been dreamed of a few years ago. And it is not just switched-on teenagers – whatever the source, it is all CBeebies to the youngest Easthams, who will grow up in a world where the divisions between TV and computer are meaningless, and even the retired ex-pats I meet in Spain are glorying in the new opportunities that convergence offers. It is not so long since we were quite impressed by the fact that you could get a CD player, a tape player and a radio in one chunky device – now they fit in a jeans pocket. Except nobody knows what a tape player is – and it may not be long before nobody know what a TV is. As it says in the Conference brochure, ‘the data driven world is changing – everything is data and the delivery mechanisms morph and interact in an endless dance’. I confess that for me sometimes the interaction is more sinister, like snakes mating in a pit.

The Conference speakers understand convergence and understand why it is different from the mere combining of discrete communications and delivery platforms. The Conference looks at new business models around connectivity, media, delivery channels, access devices and on-line services. The new convergence blows away boundaries – both in the sense that the traditional jurisdictional limitations on regulation are of questionable effect and in the new sense that regulating the disparate parts (television, Internet, telecoms) may turn into a desperate attempt to define elements that are in a constant state of flux. We do know that convergence is going to dictate every aspect of copyright and most elements of the Internet for the next generation and that even software sales will be radically affected as the ‘software as a service’ element becomes swallowed up in the greater online experience.

One session at the Conference is entitled ‘Should IT lawyers care about Convergence 3.0?’ I think you can guess the answer that is likely to be given but I want to offer a radical alternative view: of course, you need not care about convergence, so long as you are retiring in the next 12 months and moving to a desert island.

As ever with an SCL Conference, the format will be practically based and encourage participation. Instead of the conventional lecture format, the conference is structured as a series of practical, interactive sessions. For each topic, the panellists will give short presentations on the key issues before the debate is thrown open for questions and contributions. As previous attendees can attest, the debates and exchanges are often highlights of the Conference. SCL Conference networking is something of a legend in itself. Also, as ever, the Conference offers astonishing value for money – a two-day conference with accommodation and meals at the price that most commercial organisations charge for a one-day sprint.

The speakers, convenors and panellists include leading names in the overlapping fields that are rapidly converging and the Conference Dinner features a speech from Jeremy Peat, a BBC trustee.

If all that is not enough, the venue is Scotland’s beautiful capital city. If you are based in England, book your flights or other travel now and prepare to have your horizons widened.

Click here for full details of the SCL Annual Conference 2008.