For many years, landline telephone calls have been the primary way to reach out to folks for both business and pleasure. College students called home to their parents. Stock brokers called their clients. And physicians called their patients. However, today, new technologies have replaced the use of the traditional telephone. Cell phone calls, texts, instant messaging, and even Skype and Facetime are more common ways to “talk” to others than traditional land lines. In fact, many households no longer have landlines and only a handful of Americans say still can’t give up their landline (See Washington Post). While most of us are familiar with using this kind of technology for social purposes, many of these have business applications as well.
Recently, my students and I visited Sixteen South, a producer of children’s media in Northern Ireland. We learned that they used Skype to communicate to others around the world during the creation of Lily’s Driftwood Bay. Colin Williams, Creative Director of Sixteen South, told us that during production, they would use Skype to coach the voice actors for their show. The first few times the actors met face to face with Sixteen South during rehearsals and recordings of the voices for characters on the show. However, the remaining voice recording sessions were conducted via Skype with members of Sixteen South giving direction to the actors online as the actors worked in another location. The voice tracks would then be sent electronically to Sixteen South’s offices in Belfast to be used in the final production. I was stunned! I know that Skype has business applications, but I had never heard of it being used this way – in the actual production of children’s television. AMAZING!
A few days later, I was using Skype myself, but in a less stunning way…to stay in touch with my family back in the states while I was traveling in Ireland with my students. During my conversations with my family, my son would type his conversation using the messaging tool while my daughter would talk and wave at me through the audio and video connections. My son quickly discovered the emoticons in the messaging system and began adding those to his typed messages. I found it interesting that they both found a way that was most comfortable to them to share their thoughts and feelings with me.
My son is shy, so he found it easier to type rather than talk to convey his feelings. My daughter is very expressive, so she was more comfortable talking than typing. Yet both children were connecting and sharing in ways that put them at ease with the distance between us.
Technologies have provided a way for us to connect even though we are physically miles apart. That connectivity can be achieved for business applications or personal ones, to give direction or to share love. It is the same tool used differently by different folks in different places for different occasions all at the same time. That which makes us different also makes us the same…all wanting to reach and connect in our own special way.