Finally, in this review of ways to hold conversations online, I turn to media that enable perhaps the closest to real-life conversations, Skype Hangouts etc.
When I was a child, the videophone was more than science fiction. Television and telephones existed and so bringing them together was obviously a fairly straightforward technological advance. I can remember wondering why no-one had thought of doing it. Of course, there would be risks, getting out of the bath to answer the phone!
It is interesting the videophone seems to have happened almost as an afterthought. They have never taken off as stand-alone devices. The mobile phone perhaps dominates this market and video is not practical when the phone is on your ear! You would need a camera and a phone; it’s not going to happen. (You can use ear phones and look at your phone but the other person would need to do the same. It’s not impossible but it is impractical.) This left the humble PC to take on the role.
Talk to just about anyone who is ICT sceptical and they’re likely to except Skype. They have discovered the value of worldwide communication at no cost apart from the fee they pay to their ISP.
So, let’s look at the advantages.
- Video means conversations almost as good as real life can take place online. Whilst it can never replace being in the same room, facial expression and body language can be seen.
- Calls and hangouts can involve more than one person. This means small conferences can take place. The limits are at a certain size, an audio conference with keynote speakers becomes more practical.
- The global reach mean callers can be anywhere in the world that can access a connection.
- All this is effectively free.