News that Skype is going to offer a service for groups of up to 100 people to hold spontaneous conversations online is great news for those who want to use such a service for online conferences that bring together people from around the world to spontaneously, and at little cost, brainstorm ideas on issues related to peacebuilding or as a way through which opinions from around the world can be garnered in support of mitigating the rise of local violence.
The so called Skypecasts will compete with existing asynchronous voice based discussion boards such as Vaestro (slow take up, but interesting potential) for swarms to collectively voice their opinion on any issue. Coupled with a commercial recording solution like Skylook for Skype or a free solution such as the one mentioned here, Skpyecasting can allow for a whole new chapter in peace activism, where audio ranging from soundbites from international experts to entire conversations with the diaspora can be recorded and used in support of peacebuilding.
Not just this, the potential for Skypecasting to become integrated in even real world conferences, where the cost of flying in some experts may be prohibitively expensive, is mind-blowing. With the increasing availability of ADSL even in a country such as Sri Lanka, and the much promised but yet to be seen Wi-Max, the potential for field workers involved in human rights monitoring or projects in remote areas to converse, for free, with their HQ’s is another possibility.
On a related note, news of new mobile devices that are able to seamlessly switch between VoIP and GSM networks are interesting as well and points to a future that may well have mobile phones that switch, on the fly, between free services such as Skype and GSM network providers, are able to stream multimedia through IP and voice data through GSM and in short are able to creatively use GSM / VoIP / IP connectivity to deliver more information and clarity to the end user.
In short, the world of telecommunications is revolutionising the way we talk and communicate – the heart of any peace process.