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I stumbled across two, unrelated services that seem to be harbingers of one of the biggest tech trends in the next few years.

Digsby - social media and communications convergence

Digsby – social media and communications convergence

The first is an app called Digsby that is a handy little tool that looks a lot like a standard instant messenger (IM) interface. What makes it unique is the fact that it integrates MSN Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo and others. I’ve seen that much before, but this great little tool also monitors social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. It even allows you to monitor Gmail, Hotmail and other email accounts – including standard pop3 or imap accounts.

I’ve got accounts set up on most of these services, so people can pretty much reach me any way they want, now. Surprisingly, despite all this, my best efforts, and my abrasive personality, I still have people who want to call me. For that, I’ve got a home phone, a business phone, a personal cell phone and a work cell.

Which is where Google Voice comes in. With the new GV service you get one local number that you can answer on any of those phones. The service is still in development, but early reviews are suggesting that, aside from a few bugs, it works pretty much as advertised.

The staggered and uneven transition from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter – even among those who aren’t especially tech savvy – makes a pretty good case for these kinds of convergence apps. More and more services are being made available, quite often for free, and people seem more inclined than ever to give them a try.

But they’re not all moving to the same place, or at the same pace. So while I might be on Facebook, I’ve left behind friends at MySpace – and some colleagues on LinkedIn may still not be using Twitter.

As more services emerge offering slightly different features, the number of accounts and websites that I need (want, I suppose) to monitor is growing. The ability to communicate regardless of the sites and tools my friends and colleagues use is a very attractive one.

The next big thing? Maybe.

A very handy group of tools and services? Definitely.

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