I learned today it’s possible to add a free button to your blog or other website that shows your current Skype status. I’ve added this code to my personal “contact” webpage. The code to create this sort of personalized status Skype button is available from the Skype website. This is a feature that’s been included in the private directory of Apple Distinguished Educators for each person’s iChat/AIM status, and I think it is really powerful. I’m glad to see this is available (and I suppose has been for some time) to anyone who uses Skype.

Skype moo cards

This is certainly NOT something I think minors should be using and putting on their personal MySpace or other webspaces, but as an adult and a professional I think this will be interesting to try. In the late 1990s when I was teaching elementary school in Lubbock, Texas, we experimented a bit with ICQ as an instant messaging client for communications between teachers in the building– and the experiment was a failure because of unsolicited spam messages that were sent to different teachers by others outside the building. Since then I’ve been quite wary of sharing any of my instant messaging addresses publicly, and haven’t experimented to see if things are different as far as spam IM goes. My experiences with blog spam as well as email spam have been (of course) very negative, but I’m cautiously hopeful that adding this Skype button to my contact page will prove helpful rather than distracting and negative.

Over the past several months, I have become increasingly overwhelmed by personal email and honestly have not dedicated enough time to wade through, process and act on all of it. Thanks to the persistence of several individuals (who also contacted me over the phone, and not just via email) I’ve been able to respond to some remarkable offers to present internationally as well as elsewhere in the United States. I have found myself increasingly relying on phone and instant messaging communication technologies to get my work done and communicate both professionally and personally. I am still using email, but my preference for communication methods has noticeably shifted this past fall. I wouldn’t say I am “anti-email,” but I am increasingly pro-IM and pro-blog commenting.

It is important for people to recognize which communication modality is most appropriate for a particular message, its context, and its timeline. I’ve noticed some people frequently use email when they want an immediate response. Instead of email, because of their personal timeline perceptions, they should use a synchronous communication modality like the telephone or IM. The assumption that “I sent him the email, so surely he knows so and so” is often not the case with me. Again, I am not wanting to discourage anyone from emailing me, I do answer email but frequently am behind and overwhelmed with more than I have time to process and respond to on a daily basis. If anything, my encouragement to others is to consider several key factors when sending a message and choosing an asynchronous (like email or a blog comment) or synchronous (like IM or the telephone) communications modality:

  • What is the timeline for a needed response on this subject?
  • Has this person been previously unresponsive to email inquiries?
  • Is this something simple that could be handled with a quick IM conversation?
  • Is this a potentially contentious or sensitive topic that would be best handled through a face to face or phone conversation?

I am not making any type of formal “resolution” for next year with regard to these topics, but I think it will be interesting to see if I end up doing more productive communication via Skype and IM in the year to come as a result of my Skype status (and ID) being listed online.

I know that just as IM has become more preferred, communicating with others via blog comments as well as Technorati links has become a regular communication mode for me. I am interested to know if others have had similar experiences with email, where it has become less of a preferred communication modality in the past few months or year?

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  • http://www.mtl-peters.net/blog/ Sharon Peters

    Wes, I agree about the shift away from email to IM for more immediate responses. Because I have four email addresses (!) to manage the various areas of my life, and because I receive so MANY of them (not spam) in any one given day, important information is in danger of getting pushed to the bottom of inbox. To my shame, more than one or two important msgs did not receive action from me in due time because of this. We live in an info overload age. Managing the sheer volume of it on a day to day basis can become overwhelming. I, too, have found that skype IM has become a good way to exchange info through chat, as well as files, if necessary. One could be multi-tasking during the IM chat and so it is not as intrusive on one’s other tasks or time.
    I might give the skype button a try, but I, like you, am wary of being approached by strangers. Thanks for your insights into this!

  • http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org Scott McLeod

    Thanks, Wesley, for this post. I put one of these links on my web site contact page too. We’ll see what happens!

  • http://www.mguhlin.net Miguel Guhlin

    My only concern is that Skype has become THE primary mode of contact (e.g. IM, VOIP). What about Yahoo Instant messenger? MSN Messenger? All the others?

    Is Skype the new and only way to reach others? Is it now the de facto IM software to run?

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    I look on the growing ubiquity of skype (or at least my perception of it) as a real bonus rather than a concern. People need to communicate with common standards. I have used Adium X (similar to Trillian on the Windows side) to simultaneously use all my IM accounts, but have been frustrated by the lack of audio and videoconferencing support. The fact that Skype supports cross-platform audio and videoconferencing is a HUGE plus, in my opinion. I think it’s fine for there to be a diversity of IM clients out there, but my experience has been that a common tool is needed for desktop videoconferencing, particularly. For now, I see Skype as providing the solution I’ve been wanting in this regard.

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