Saturday, July 02, 2005


It's skype. Internet telephony. The newest thing. Well, not totally new. But it's my newest way of communicating.

Skype also has instant messaging text/chat. It's all free, unless you want to call from your computer to phones, which I don't. And everything's encrypted, which is very cool, since some of the people I talk to are a bit paranoid sometimes.

Looking at my call log, I've got conversations lasting 2, 3, almost 4 hours. What is up with that, anyway? I would never find that kind of time to talk on the phone. Not with god herself, I don't think.

But Skype is different somehow. You know, you get on the phone and you have to hold it. (I haven't got into the habit of using a headset to talk on my cell.) And cell phones don't give easily to the whole cradle-between-your-head-and-shoulder thing that regular phones always did. So there's that bit of awkwardness.

And there's something a little standoffish about a phone conversation, too. At least for me. If I encounter dead space in a phone conversation, things get uncomfortable and I start looking for a way to wrap things up. And anyhow, the entire conversation on a phone has a shouting, tentative feel to it. Like at any moment the person on the other end could find something way more interesting to do and you'd be out. At least this is my experience.

But I've found that when I Skype someone, I am plugged into whatever that person is doing at the moment and vice versa. Headphones on, we are each talking into our computers while we are reading web pages or typing blog posts, IMs, and email. We are also making perfunctory conversation with other people in the room with us, in addition to doing whatever tasks at hand can be accomplished while tethered by headphones. It is a little awkward to carry my laptop to another room, say, the kitchen to empty the dishwasher, but it can be overcome.

Skype almost makes you an invisible presence wherever your "skypee" is. Others can't hear or see you, but you hear and feel part of everything that's going on wherever they happen to be. Besides that, the give and take between the two of you is easy, free flowing. Your skypee could be sitting on the sofa next to your chair, sharing what you're reading, watching, typing. It's almost like being inside someone's mind and thoughts.

It's that, well, intimate. And a really easy, familiar way to while away a few mintutes or a few hours.


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