The Phenomenology of Communicating Through Skype

The Office of Research and Publications invites you to the CMC Colloquium Series

The Phenomenology of Communicating Through Skype

by: Ms. Almond Aguila on Tuesday, July 5, 2011, 1:00 p.m. at the PhilStar Room, Plaridel Hall.


The popularity of Skype is unquestionable. In the first six months of last year, 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls were made through Skype. An average of 124 million people per month used it from April to June of 2010. This technology is popular enough to compete with the telephone.  Research agency Teleography (2009) even blames it for the steady drop of international call traffic because of the free service it provides. That more people now choose it over the telephone for long-distance communication may cause us to wonder what makes it a unique experience. How is it like to keep in touch through Skype? We may even ask more specifically: What is it like to communicate through Skype when it creates varying modalities of closeness and distance?

My discussion of the whatness of communicating through Skype will be preceded by a short reflection on the experience of Max van Manen’s Phenomenological method, instruction and pedagogy—all of which have earned him respect and admiration around the world. This paper is a result of an eight-month seminar workshop on Phenomenologic Research and Writing conducted (for the last time) by Dr. Van Manen and Dr. Catherine Adams at the University of Alberta. What intrigued me about Skype was how it seems to transform interpersonal contact by what it promises: Nearness despite distance. In keeping with the focus of phenomenology, I attempt to “unpack” the dimensions of the Skype experience by paying attention to some of the four modalities of being: Lived time, lived space, lived body and lived human relations.

About the Author

Almond N. Aguila is a doctoral student at the University of Alberta in Canada. Her research interests include Filipino migration, virtual culture and new media. Much of her training and experience comes from the popular print media. She began her career as a writer and assistant editor for The Philippine Star and later worked for various publications including a rock and roll magazine. Before moving to the city of Edmonton last September, Almond taught core communication classes to undergraduate and graduate students at the UP College of Mass Communication where she completed degrees in BA Journalism and MA Communication Research.