Distinctive and/or curious behaviours of Skype usage by Skypers

February 9, 2006

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.

Clears throat

February 3, 2006


This feels a bit like speaking to an empty conference hall – an occasional nightmare of mine, back in the days of the first ‘dotcom’ boom, when I used to talk about how the web would change brands.

But if this blog gets off the ground (unlike the previous efforts I’ve left cluttering the web) then I suppose some people might go back and read my first post, so I suppose I better write something of some worth.

A few things have prompted me to have another, hopefully more sustained, go at blogging.

Firstly, after 10 years of employment by very big, big and big-acting companies, I’ve just gone freelance, so I thought I should have a place on the web where prospective employers can get a sense of who I am, what I do and how I think.

Secondly, one of my first post-wage slave jobs is working with the communications agency Albion on their client Skype. So after a few years of creating ideas to help knackered old companies try to sort out their problems, I’m delighted to find myself back helping exciting new companies to make the most of their opportunities. I feel energised about my work in a way I haven’t for a little while now, and this too has inspired me to blog.

Thirdly, having Skype as a client means I need to be playing with all this cool stuff, so I can try and work out what it means to my mum, and how to get her to buy it.

I’ve been using the ideasdepartment.com domain for my personal email for a while, so it made sense to use it for my blog too. Although sitting here now I realise for the first time that it might create certain expectations in a reader…