Skype® is a communication tool that provides voice, video, and text message capabilities. It is a software program that can be downloaded to a PC or MAC and operates as a voice-over-IP service (VoIP) (About Skype, 2013). Skype® originally started as a peer-to-peer sharing program for voice connection. The premise was that with an Internet connection anyone in the world could use a microphone and speakers/headset to talk to one another (Aamoth, 2011). The best part about Skype® was that the program was free and there were no user fees.
Skype® expanded its capabilities to include video conferencing, texting, and also introduced the capability to call and receive calls from regular as well as cell phone with per minute charges (Aamoth, 2011). Microsoft® saw the potential in Skype® and acquired the company October 13th, 2011 for $8.5 billion (Microsoft Officially Welcomes Skype, 2011).
I personally use Skype® and it was introduced to me while I was participating in my M.S. in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Program at Creighton University. At first I thought it was a novelty and that I would be using it to collaborate on projects with my fellow classmates. The ability to video conference for free was fantastic as we were able to share items in real-time while conferencing by holding it up to the camera instead of having to email and wait for the delivery delays. But there were times when Internet connection speeds would affect some of my classmates and their screens would freeze up or they would get logged off.
My practicum for my M.S. Program was to mediate for an organization called Soliya®. Soliya® is an organization endorsed by the United Nations that provides the opportunity for college students of Western Culture to interact college students of Muslim Culture through the use of Skype® (Soliya Home Page, 2013). During my mediation sessions the students would log on and begin video chatting and we would discuss preselected topics as well as open the forum to new topics the students would like to discuss. The sessions were fascinating and I was able to get a glimpse into the Muslim Culture that I would not normally get a chance to experience as well as see how the youth of the day viewed each other over difficult topics and issues. At the end of each session I was required to fill out a log that asked me to discuss the topics covered, the interaction of the students, and the body language displayed by the students. The body language portion was the most interesting as there were times that the body language did not match the tone of the voice of the person. Without Skpye® video conferencing, I would have not been able to see their body language. There were a few times I had to stop a discussion because one or more of the students would be visibly agitated and I could see the discussion going down a bad path. Being able to see how students were reacting help the session be constructive versus destructive.
As a leader it is imperative to know your audience as well as see the feedback the audience is providing. Skype® is a tool that can be used to be in constant communication with people. The video conferencing capability of Skype® rivals video conferencing software such as Cisco WebEx® (Cisco WebEx Meetings, 2013). As a cost cutting measure Skype® can be implemented to lower costs for global communication. With all of the emphasis of leadership to do more with less, it is also a good idea to find a cost-effective reliable solution to communication.
There are a few downsides to Skype®. The free video conferencing capability is limited for Skype® and there is a monthly fee associated with wanting to host large groups. The quality also suffers when there are a large number of people on the video conference or if there is a voice only conference. The quality is dependent on the bandwidth available and is also affected by the upload/download rates of the participants. During video conferences I have had people drop off in mid sentence and then have difficulty logging back into the conference. There is an instant text message capability but there is not a capability to do interactive drawing like with Twiddla White Board® in order to share ideas (Twiddla Home Page, 2013).
Since the communications take place on the Internet, if there is not an Internet connection then there can be no communication. It seems simplistic, but there are spots that do not have Wi-Fi capability and there have been times when I have experienced not being to log into the Internet. There is also a concern about the security of what is being shared in Skype®. There should always be a worry about encryption especially if very sensitive material is being sent via the instant message capability. With so many hackers I am always concerned about security. It is already known that hackers are able to hijack web cams and that this could lead to a compromise of sensitive information (Ehling, 2012).
There are many upsides to Skype® usage but I am not sure that the main usage should be in the business world. I feel that Skype® is perfect for personal use as well as use for distance learners. I will continue to use Skype® to speak with my Education Advisor Dr. Ehrlich as well as communicate with fellow classmates.
Aamoth, D. (2011, May 10th). A Brief History of Skype. Retrieved from Time Tech: http://techland.time.com/2011/05/10/a-brief-history-of-skype/
About Skype. (2013, November 2nd). Retrieved from Skype: http://www.skype.com/en/about/
Cisco WebEx Meetings. (2013, November 1st). Retrieved from Cisco: http://www.webex.com/
Ehling, J. (2012, December 12th). FBI wanrs Against People Hacking into Web Cams. Retrieved from ABC 13: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/consumer&id=8925225
Microsoft Officially Welcomes Skype. (2011, October 11th). Retrieved from Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2011/oct11/10-13skypepr.aspx
Soliya Home Page. (2013, November 1st). Retrieved from Soliya: http://www.soliya.net/
Twiddla Home Page. (2013, November 1st). Retrieved from Twiddla: http://www.twiddla.com/
I found the creation of the World Wide Web, email protocols, and web browsing really fascinating. I had heard the terms FTP (File Transfer Protocol), HTML (HyperText Markup Language), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), XML (Extensible Markup Language), VPN (Virtual Private Network) when I started working for my first company outside of the Navy (Friedman, 2007). But I had no idea what any of it meant or how these acronyms would affect my life. The relative ease of use of the Internet has created e-commerce, the capability of collaboration for large projects, distance learning, and working as a remote employee. Noble prize winner Tim Berners-Lee and his creation of a World Wide Web (WWW) while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, displayed great leadership to resolve an issue with sharing of information with other scientists (Tim Berners-Lee, 2013). He was also an amazing person because he didn’t want the money associated with his creation and wanted to share his creation with the world. Much like Tesla forgoing his patent payments so that Westinghouse could attract investors, Berners-Lee saw the benefit to human-kind and wanted to make sure he improved the human condition (Socerer of Lightening: Nikola Tesla, 2013).
The multiple examples of open source code and how individuals can do community developed software to improve the code for everyone’s use displays the power of how an individual can challenge big business companies (Friedman, 2007). The ability of programmers to create something that they need versus only taking what companies can offer shows a non-conformist attitude that has help to flatten the world. This same attitude is driving companies to work with customers instead of having a “take it or leave it” attitude. The story of how IBM created software based off of Apache source code displayed great leadership by the then IBM senior executive John Swainson when he took the risk of using non-proprietary software to base IBM proprietary software (Friedman, 2007).
The explosion of quality Indian engineering labor during Y2K and the subsequent dot com bubble burst would never have happened without the overgrowth of the fiber optic cables (Friedman, 2007). When I was in the Navy from ’87 – ’93 there were a lot of guys I knew that were getting out and going to work for companies that would be laying these fiber optic cables. They spoke about the huge amount of money they would be able to make and they wanted ex-military guys because they would work hard and never complain. They also all spoke about how this would be their job forever due to the high volume of work that needed to be completed. I never pursued that opportunity and after reading Friedman’s account of the bust of the Fiber Optic Industry, I would say I made the right decision. The overbuilding of the fiber optic networks created a bust for many that invested their money in the industry but created a boon for the future of global networking (Blumenstein, 2001).
Bringing Japan to Bentonville AK was really interesting to me. I had seen a documentary on Sam Walton but did not know this aspect. His revolutionary idea to move the supply chains closer to the actual stores was creativity at its best. He also was willing to slash the wholesale margins to increase the amount of volume sold. Mr. Walton did not invent the retail business, he used his leadership skills, hard work ethic, and knowledge of the business to make Wal-Mart a retail giant (Sam Walton: Bargain Basement Billionaire, 2008).
Friedman cites so many examples of how creativity changed and flattened the world. Each individual being interviewed or referenced by Mr. Friedman showed leadership at its finest. Determining what the core issue was, finding value in the solution, and then finding ways to resolve that issue is what is at the core of leadership. Sometime the issue revolved around lack of funding, around a lack of efficiency, or individual/group needs, but they all required innovation and a strong individual to lead that change.
Blumenstein, R. (2001, June 18th). Overbuilt Web: How the fiber barons plunged the nation into a telecom glut — Qwest and Level 3 battled while demand stalled; outlook is tough for one — a clash of two billionaires. Retrieved from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: http://lubbockonline.com/stories/061801/upd_075-3831.shtml
Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Picador / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Sam Walton: Bargain Basement Billionaire. (2008, October 8th). Retrieved from Entrepreneur: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197560#
Socerer of Lightening: Nikola Tesla. (2013, November 1st). Retrieved from The Museum of Unnatural History: http://www.unmuseum.org/tesla.htm
Tim Berners-Lee. (2013, October 28th). Retrieved from Internet Hall of Fame: http://internethalloffame.org/inductees/tim-berners-lee
The Internet certainly has shrunk the world and created a culture of sharing that is unprecedented. The use of the Internet has also changed the technology landscape and made global collaboration as easy as click a button on a computer’s mouse. The fact that I am participating in a Doctoral Program offered by a Jesuit College in Omaha Nebraska while living in Austin Texas is a prime example of how the internet has opened doors that would not normally exist. The same opportunity of using the Internet to attend Creighton University from Austin also allows me to be employed by a global organization and work from home. I am truly living the benefits of what Mr. Friedman describes as a “flattened world” (Friedman, 2007).
Using technology has improved my life but has also created some fears as the workplace becomes more globalized. Mr. Friedman discusses my same fear that I will be part of an outsourced position at my company (Friedman, 2007). It is amazing that India has created a market for all of the grunt work that can be done remotely and has many start-up businesses with the intention of keeping Indians in India versus going to America for jobs. The cost of living in India is difficult for European and American workers to compete with and it is natural that businesses will try to cut operating costs. My previous job was in the Semiconductor Industry and there was rampant outsourcing to India and China during my time because the companies could pay engineers there ¼ of a U.S. engineer’s salary. Eventually the industry imploded due in part to the overpricing of goods and I left for greener pastures in the Biomedical Industry.
Although a lot of outsourcing of mundane jobs are going to India and China, there is also an increase in jobs requiring great expertise beginning to grow in those countries. Mr. Florida discusses the peaks, hills, and valleys of technology in his article and where those jobs requiring highly skilled individuals are located. The majority of the peaks and hills do reside in Europe and the U.S., but there growing economic strength in India and China to start creating technology hubs (Florida, 2005). The example of the Chinese city of Dalian shows that China has enough capital resources to begin to compete with the west (Friedman, 2007).
Watching Mr. Shirky’s TED video also was very eye opening. The impact of social media and the continued shrinking of the globe is both exciting and frightening. By being able to have millions of people with something as simple as a smart phone share situations that are taking place in real-time, events can no longer be regulated by governments or professional media (Clay Shirky: How social media can make history, 2009). It is now possible to see event unfold and make a personal decision about how that makes me feel about the situation versus what someone else thinks I should feel. That type of freedom is empowering. Without the Internet, none of this type of information exchange would exist. The one things that ties all three sources I have read for this week’s assignment together is Mr. Shirky’s following question: “How can we make the best use of this medium?” (Clay Shirky: How social media can make history, 2009). I am hoping that the next seven weeks of this class will help me answer this question.
Clay Shirky: How social media can make history. (2009, June). Retrieved from TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html
Florida, R. (2005). The World is Spiky: Globalization has Changed the Economic Playing FIeld, but hasn’t Leveled it. The Atlantic Monthly, 48-51.
Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Picador / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
I am a student enrolled in the Ed.D. in Leadership Program at Creighton University. This blog is starting as a course assignment and I hope to make it much more. Get your popcorn ready because the show is about to begin!