Skype, a popular service that provides free voice calls over the internet, has been begun offering a new product allowing users all over the world to participate in real-time discussions with others about... well anything! The preview service, still in beta form, allows you to search for and join a conversation with people also interested in that particular topic. You can then voice your views after being handed the "microphone", all from the comfort of your own home.
This is a new move for the rapidly growing telephony giant, which is famous for its disruptive technology that brings its users closer together through free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls, and extremely cheap calls to landlines and mobiles across the planet. The new addition to the Skype phenomenon is called Skypecasts, allowing people who download their free software to broadcast their opinions to listeners, like a radio show where you choose the topic you want to discuss.
Recently a number of Skypecasts about medical literature have been quite popular, including one about Geeta Anand's new novel "The Cure" about "How a Father Raised $100 Million--And Bucked the Medical Establishment--In a Quest to Save His Children". This was a popular Skypecast with listeners and contributors from the USA, India and other corners of the globe.
This new form of conversing with others has taken off: authors such as Anand using it to raise publicity for their work, and bloggers have started using it as a more direct form of expression and contact with their readers. Others have used Skypecasts to share their views about access to health care.
Perhaps this is a tool that could be used in the future by support groups, medical associations and even conference organisers. After all, it's free!