Skype

Blog Post by: Emily Baughman, Maria Maldonado, and Priscilla Rodriguez

What is Skype you ask?

Skype is a program that can downloaded off the internet which allows a user to call, see, message and share files with other users of the program – wherever they are.

The FREE side of Skype includes:
– Your Skype account and the latest downloads
– Video and voice calls to any other user on Skype
– Instant messaging and file sharing

The OPTIONAL PAYING side of Skype includes:
– Calls to mobile devices and landlines world wide at a low rate
– Send text messages for just a few pennies
– Group video calls with up to 10 people

To get started, there are a few things you’ll need – a webcam so you can let others see you, an Internet connection, and a computer or mobile device with a microphone and speakers capability.
Skype is available on your computer, mobile device, tablet, TV or even from your home phone.

FEATURES
– Calling: Stay in touch by making free Skype to Skype calls or by calling mobile and landlines abroad at low rates

– Video: Catch up face-to-face or get a whole group together on a video call

– Messaging: You’re always in the loop with instant messaging, voice messaging and sending text messages

– Sharing: Send photos, videos and files of any size

THE BUSINESS SIDE OF SKYPE
Besides the obvious social aspects of Skype, as listed above, there is also a pertinent business side advantage.

– Save Money: Call and conference with customers, colleagues and clients on their phones for a low rate. Skype for free and reduce the cost of calling mobile phones and landlines. With Skype Connect, the ability to make Skype calls through a certified office phone system is now an option as well.

– Stay Connected: Voice messages let Skype take a message when you’re unavailable. Wifi Skype capabilities makes for convenience when traveling. Forwarding Calls allows you to receive Skype calls when you’re offline. Work Together by using the ‘group video call’ feature, allowing up to 10 people on the same video call.

Explanation

An average relationship is one that consists of interaction between two people. Whether it is a platonic, business or romantic relationship, it usually consists of two people. In today’s society, the norm is quickly becoming two people and at least one form of technology for communication. Whether the use of text, email, social media or a technology like Skype is used, the fact is, technology is now an integral part of the relationship communication.

According to Uses and Gratification theory, we choose the medium that is going to fulfill different purposes at different times. We don’t let the media use us; instead we use the media (Griffin, 2012, p. 359). In a relationship, especially long distance relationships, texting, emails and phone calls are always a welcome form of communication that helps each party involved stay emotionally connected to one another. Skype is a type of technology that can strengthen the relationship. It takes communication to another level by not only connecting through voice but also visually. Also, taking advantage of a form of media like Skype is cost effective. Two people involved in a long distance relationship may not have the financial means to connect in person. Skype offers an alternative that is beneficial to both parties.

Relationships use face-to-face negotiation as part of the interpersonal relationship. How we choose to negotiate the different aspects of the relationship has an impact on whether or not is it successful. If conflict arises, non-verbal cues are one important factor that can help achieve a satisfactory resolution. With the absence of non-verbal cues, a conflict may take longer to resolve. This can lead to uncertainty in the relationship. With the use of Skype, the feedback we receive is instantaneous and allows one to see the non-verbal cues, hear the tone of the parties involved, creating a balance of reciprocity and also clarity in the intent of the message, therefore, diminishing miscommunication. Skype is a type of channel that allows both parties involved to maintain some level of independence while also integrating each other’s views. This is important if the two parties involved wish to reach a solution that is win-win for both (Griffin, 2012, p. 413).

Hawthornthwaite states in her theory of Media Multiplexity (2005), the strength of a relationship can indicate the amount of media used (Lecture notes, 2013). Many people who use Skype have discovered that texting, emails and phone calls may not always be enough to fulfill the emotional need for closeness. Skype was and is the answer to help fulfill that need.

This brings up another need that is a plus for using Skype – privacy. When one is Skyping, the two parties involved can limit or expand the amount of privacy to suit their needs. Although the conversations can be an open forum (if the parties choose to Skype out in public) they can quickly create intimacy by Skyping behind closed doors. It is a forum that is conducive to expanding or limiting the boundaries of their personal and intimate details.

Perhaps this type of peer-to-peer technology, originally developed for file sharing, was not the intention of Kazaa (Aamoth, 2011). However, when their developers created the programming to file share, with no central server to house any files, the basis of the concept opened the doors to so much more. The fact is, when we get down to the nitty gritty of who, what, when, where and why, Skype isn’t so far from the original intent – to share and stay connected.

Recommendations

From a TECHNOLOGICAL standpoint:
Skype users are aware of its many features and capabilities and how using this type of site can foster and maintain interpersonal communication. However many people who have used this site, myself included, know that the lack of signal or trouble establishing a video connection is an area where this site could use improvement. Skype is accessible mainly through a wireless or Internet connection. We cannot Skype using cellular data, which is inconvenient for those who do not have access to the Internet or are not in an area that has Internet. With that in mind, my suggestion for this site would be allowing Skype users to utilize cellular data on any given phone network. Since cell phone companies already charge users for their data, Skype would be able to do the same – creating interruption free calling and less connection issues. Not only would this solve a problem, but it would also allow for Skype to expand its user base.

From a SOCIAL standpoint:
Another recommendation that I would like to suggest is in regards to the actual layout of the Skype program. When using Skype, a user sees the person they are videoing with in a large box while also seeing themselves in a smaller box off to the side. Many users complain about the awkwardness associated with having that double feature. A colleague of mine has recently complained to me about how her friend in France constantly looks at herself in the smaller box off to the side, instead of making eye contact with her. Eye contact is an imperative factor in communication because it is frequently associated with the notions of listening and attention. By eliminating the ‘self video’ factor of Skype, this would allow users to focus all of their attention on the person they are communicating with, instead of on themselves – ultimately providing a rich communication media.

References
– Skype.com
– Textbook: A First Look At Communication Theory by Em Griffin
– SNS & Personal Relationships Fall 2013 class lectures
– Web Article by Doug Aamoth: http://techland.time.com/2011/05/10/a-brief-history-of-skype/

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