Monday, August 22, 2011

Writerly Tools: Skype

Communicating over the internet isn't the greatest. I won't deny it--email gets the job done, and it's super easy to meet new people on Twitter and in writing forums. But it doesn't beat old fashioned face-to-face conversation.

That is where video calling applications come into play.

If you don't know, a video call is pretty much what it sounds like. Basically you "call" someone else's computer and communicate via microphone and webcam footage. It's pretty sweet.

Now, there are several options out there: Windows Live Messenger. FaceTime. ooVoo. Google Voice and Video Chat. And my personal favorite, Skype. What makes Skype my number one choice? Well, let me give you guys five quick reasons:
  1. Skype just works
    There are several different programs for video calling, but Skype does what you want and when you want. The user interface is simple and you don't have to mess with a bunch of crap to make calls, screen share, or simply chat.
  2. Skype can call anyone
    Is your critique partner in Europe and your agent in New York? Do you want to do a video call with a classroom across the country? With Skype, you can communicate to any device with the application for free.
  3. Skype can call anything
    You aren't limited to calling other computers that have Skype installed--you can call anything with a phone number. Charges apply, but it's an awesome alternative when you can't use a normal phone or if you need to make a long distance call.
  4. Skype can be free or not
    The free version of Skype is a fantastic value, but the paid version has some great features too. These include group video and screen sharing calls (which would be perfect for critique groups), unlimited calling in the US and Canada, and live tech support.
  5. Skype has a huge customer base
    This is because it was pretty much the first mainstream video chat program, and thus, a lot of people use it. If you want to streamline your computer applications, it would be easiest to stick to Skype.