Interpersonal video communication as a site of human socialityA special issue of Pragmatics

Richard Harper,1 Rod Watson2 and Christian Licoppe2
1Social Shaping Research, Cambridge | 2Telecom ParisTech, Paris

Table of contents

The development of applications for low cost, web-based video communication, such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Apple Facetime, combined with the (apparently) ever increasing communication needs of geographically dispersed networks of families, friends and lovers, has led to the steady growth of this form of contact. Indeed, being in touch through video, through Skype say, is virtually routine for much of the world. Surveys of Skype use by that company itself, as a case in point, suggest that this video-calling product is known by the bulk of the population in Europe, the Far East and North America. Skype, Hangouts, Facetime and the various other interpersonal video communication applications on the market, are, then, part of a life where seeing another via a video connection, doing friendship, family and affection through the apparatus of screens and computers, is part of the taken for granted fabric of contemporary existence for much of the world. To ‘Skype’ one’s friend is as familiar as texting via the mobile, Facebooking on a tablet, having a drink at bar with friends. To make a video call is commonplace; to do so with family is routine, with a lover virtually a requirement, whether one is in Helsinki, London or Seattle.

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