Skype’s Instant Messaging comprises two components:
- Presence: to let your contacts know your current status according to the options shown at the right.
- Chat: to drive informal and ongoing text message conversations.
Chat is probably the most powerful feature of Skype; you can have:
- Private Chats – the traditional ad hoc chat session with one or more selected Contacts;
- Group Chats – a persistent, closed chat session where (a) host(s) can invite Contacts as participants and manage an ongoing conversation. Think of it as a “by-invitation-only” water cooler conversation.
- Public Chats – a persistent, open chat session where (a) host(s) can publish a public access link (or URI) and anyone on Skype can join in. In this case hosts have control over whether a participant is active, read only or (if necessary and appropriate) blocked from participating. Think of public chats as a public town hall meeting.
All chat sessions are archived on the local user’s PC going back to when a group or public chat began; the archives themselves, called Chat History, are searchable. As a result these chat archives become handy for exchanging, say, URL’s, passwords and meeting agendas that can be retrieved at a later time or recovering important notes such as a summary of bullet points made during a discussion. (For permanent archiving use a utility program such as Pamela, or Recollx. The former archives in a Windows folder; the latter archives within its own client program.)
All chat activity on a PC is stored on the local PC and is searchable (Ctrl-F or Control-F). Scrolling to the top of a chat window provides options to recall all activity going back seven days, 30 days or longer as shown on the right.
Group and Public Chats are the most powerful in a business or group setting. The host can designate a topic and provide reference URL’s for the session which assist in keeping the session on focus by providing reference points for new participants or those who drift too far away from the main focus. These chats can go on infinitely in time. Several have been running 24 hours/day, 7 days/week since the introduction of Public Chats with Skype 3.2 in May, 2007. Thus, the term “Virtual Water Cooler Conversations”.
As a demonstration of Public Chats we will be hosting the Public Chat session shown on the right. Any visitor with a question about the site can click on the link to the right and join the session.