Sociology Professor on video calls
Professor Ian Hutchby from our Department of Sociology is featured in today’s Independent, discussing videophones.
The Indie article is prompted by the release of FaceTime, an app on the new iPhone 4 which allows people to chat with other iPhone 4 users, using the integral camera. It’s the stuff of science fiction! But will it catch on, or will it be as frustrating and unloved as previous attempts to popularise video communication?
Professor Hutchby points out that talking to someone via a video link is only similar to a face-to-face conversation, not identical. He also sagely notes that people may be more reluctant to take certain calls because they don’t want to be seen and this could foster suspicion and paranoia.
And he makes the salient, historical observation that the telephone itself - when it was invented in 1875 by Alexander Graham Bell – was never intended as a social communication tool but rather as a device for business communication and emergencies. (Widespread uptake of the telephone was also responsible for popularising the casual greeting ‘Hello’ in English which was little-used until Bell’s invention took off but quickly supplanted the traditional ‘Good day.’ Bell himself preferred to answer the phone with ‘Ahoy’.)