Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ring of the Skype, Skype of the Rings

I'll just say it — I hate it when Skype starts ringing, out of the blue. This is not because I dislike Skype's voice feature — oh no, I love it, this is the whole reason Skype exists! (arguably, presence of all the other features makes it worse)

Yet, it has an ability to solve a huge inconvenience with regular phones.

Can you talk, or are you in a museum, looking at old gadgets?
(photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy)

The inconvenience being that you can't find out if it is a suitable time to talk before talking to the person on the other end.

Y'know, riiiiiiing, hello, are you asleep or can you talk? Or, rrrrrrrrring, hiya, are you in some important conversation right now? Or, taking a software development angle, rinnnnnnnng, are you “in the zone” now, on the verge of solving a problem that stalked you for days? Oh, you were? Right.

(actually, most people won't understand that last one anyway, when you sit without typing — most take it as a cue to initiate a casual chat. Nice weather today, eh?)

What Skype offers, though, in comparison with your granny's phone, is a possibility to send messages before you call. Text them: “Hi, is this a good time to talk, or shall I call later?”, for example.

The key here is that all methods of communication — voice calls, email exchanges, instant messaging chats, forum discussions and face-to-face meetings (yes, even them!) are very good, if used correctly, in the correct context. Conflict resolution, for example, just doesn't work in emails — they become lengthier and lengthier, while their writers become more and more furious. Written communication, on the other hand, is great thanks to how easy it is to search and reference certain points discussed.

So, when someone sees Skype as just a voice comms tool, and then uses it in and out of place — that is a waste of a great tool. And that's a shame. We'll all benefit from thinking about each situation, each problem we need to tackle, and then using a tool that fits the job. Now that's a thought that directly relates to programming.

Rant over, thankyouverymuch, haveagoodday :)

5 comments:

  1. Looks like drunken rants. :) But generally I totally agree.

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    1. “Generally totally” — that's a nice one :D Thanks, I guess.

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  2. You are totally right! And most of all you described stems from the fact that Skype is not for work. It is for personal use. As a consequence, you are supposed to either turn Skype off when you don't want to be bothered, or set a status in Skype. Lync, on the other hand, is for work, and it has much more tools and features to support working environment you described.

    *I'm an employee of Microsoft, working in Skype division. But what I write here I write as my personal opinion. *

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    1. Even though you support me, I have to disagree — we use whatever the other person has. In my case it so happens that majority of Skype communications are work-related. I would probably uninstall the bloated beast — no offense! — if I could, but the next client will just send me his Skype ID and ask if we could talk.

      It is just so “everywhere” that it is hard to ignore, and not valid to slot it into just one use-case.

      PS You work in Skype div, neat! Please try to make it “better”, not “more” :D

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