Distinctive and/or curious behaviours of Skype usage by Skypers

I’ve been working with Skype for four weeks now, and before they become normal for me, I wanted to record some of the distinctive and/or curious behaviours of Skype usage I’m noticing. (I’m sure most of these are obvious, but despite being a fairly tech savvy person, I’ve never really used IM before, never mind VOIP.)

  • There’s a quite lovely etiquette of asking someone by chat if it’s OK to call, even when their presence shows ‘available’, and then thanking them afterward (again by chat) for a good call.
  • Multichats are great. Bring many contacts in on a chat with a general topic, and keep it going indefinitely. They lay dormant for a few hours/days, then someone will post a link/ask a question, and there’s a little flurry. For a team at work, it means problems are solved or ideas hatched right there and then. The team doesn’t have to convene a meeting for an issue that doesn’t need one, or wait until the next-scheduled meeting to discuss it, by which time the opportunity will have gone/gone stale/been forgotten anyway. I’d like to try to open one with my friends. I just need to persuade them to get Skype first.
  • The noise, echos etc you get on a voice call have a uniquely Skype (or soft VOIP?) quality to them. Although on Tuesday I was in a meeting where four people were taking part via Skype and a conference phone, and to me it felt like they were orbiting the moon on Apollo 13! They didn’t say anything all meeting, but there was the occasional whisper of analogue-sounding static that reminded me of a sound effect used extensively in the passable Tom Hanks film. Weird.
  • In face-to-face meetings, nearly all the Skypers have a laptop in front of them, sometimes taking part in unrelated chats simultaneously, sometimes writing notes into Notepad or PowerPoint.
  • I think it may be that power in the organisation is signalled by not having a laptop in a meeting.
  • I think there may be a macho thing about making the last contribution of the day to an ongoing multichat. I’ve only seen men do it so far…


I look forward to reading back over these observation in 1 week/month/year to see which are part of the landscape, and which disappear and seem quaint.


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