A conversation

A couple of days ago I called my cousin. We chatted about how hard the life of the freelancer can be: like the proverbial London buses, you wait for ages then three come along at once.

We also chatted about health and health care, and keeping pets.

We talked for over an hour.

Nothing too significant in all that – except that:

  • she lives in the USA, I in the UK
  • the call cost us nothing, because we did it through Skype
  • we last saw each other 5 years ago, and before that, 25 years
  • she had never, until then, seen – let alone talked to – my wife.

It struck me that what Skype and similar services has enabled is not just more communication, but better communication, conversation of a higher quality. Twenty years ago, we would not have called each other, unless there was a hurricane here, say, or an earthquake there. And the call would have consisted of:

You ok?

Everyone else OK?

Yes we’re all OK.

Must fly: this is costing me £1 a minute.

The world is not just flat; it’s softer too. This is partly what the 'C' in Information and Communications Technology is about. It's also another example of the effect of technology on society. I also think it's useful for kids to realise how expensive transatlantic calls used to be, in order to really appreciate the benefits of voice over IP services like Skype.

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