Okay, I had to give it 5 stars since I co-wrote the book and I know all the research, reflection, editing and late nights that went into Skype for Dummies. But I also wanted to add a little personal note about Skype and why I wanted to write this book.
Skype is an amazing way to communicate. I don't use it exclusively (I use land lines, email and cell phones too). But I wanted to open up the possibilities of using a program that let's you talk, type in messages, conference, videoconference, transfer files all at the same time, in the same venue, exploding the idea of what it means to mingle electronically. My husband Loren (my co-author), and our friend Howard Dammond (my other co-author), used Skype constantly in the writing work flow. We'd develop an outline and send the file out (you can send files out to a whole bunch of people at once if they are in a Skype chat or conference with you). We'd each look at it, comment, paste in paragraphs, changes, suggestions and add live links in the chat window, and then get down to work. Our work flow was almost exclusively on Skype. This was true even when Loren was in the study and I was in the living room in the same apartment. It was faster to Skype a file and paste a paragraph into a chat than it was to email or print and walk the chapter over to the next room. We really hadn't anticipated how efficient this was (and grateful for that efficiency when deadlines loomed).
Skype had become part of our culture of communicating. We used it for work, play, to explore, to teach and to connect our far flung families.
On any given day, while I'm at work writing or researching on my computer, a little alert comes up inviting me to answer a Skype call. Not unusual...but the call is from my mother, a new user to computers, and well into her eighties. Mom lives in Florida, I'm in New York, and her Skype contacts allow her to instantly call any of her children with a couple of clicks. She also uses landlines and cell phones, but the quality of a Skype call for her is much clearer...a boon to failing hearing. I coached my Mom in how to set up a contact list and how to Skype out to her brothers in Indiana and Virginia, and her nieces in California. She is a confident Skyper (although she calls it Spyke!) and absolutely took to the program because it made sense to use it.
In the book we certainly tried to be really, really clear about how to use all the features of Skype...and then some (editors in the Dummies series are meticulous about insisting on clarity...albeit with a huge dose of humour). But we wanted to talk about the new culture that is emerging because of such programs; the enormity of how much more productive we can be if we take advantage of new tools; how far our reach can go in multi-continent collaboration, language learning, and business development.
To me, Skype is personal. I use it every day. This book was not a platform for political, economic or ethical discussions on Skype, eBay, cable companies and the like (I'll let you know when I become a political columnist). It's simply a glance down the road, a fun travel guide to suggest a path and destination you may not have considered (or didn't know was there). What is that destination? A very rich, varied way to connect with each other.
Loren, Howard and I truly hope you enjoy the book (of course we do). But, more than that, we hope we've opened a few eyes, imaginations, and helped to launch a few enterprises.
Thanks for reading my little missive,
Sincerely, Susan Abdulezer