February 15, 2007

Skypecast - Cooler than I Thought

I came across the Skypecasts beta directory on Sunday, I don't even remember how. I have been aware of Skypecast for quite a while now through Jason Powell's blog, and had always thought of it as an alternative to hold on-line meetings. I was blown away to find a directory of open discussions taking place about all sort of subjects!

I clicked on a "Join this Skypecast" link for one of the entries, and found myself listening in on a Arabic speaking discussion as though I was standing in a public square in Saudi Arabia and just walked up to a group of people, listening to the conversation. This is wild!

I began thinking, the potential of this is huge. This is not just free conference calling, this is a globally accessible public forum. If you want to hold a discussion on any subject all you need is to download Skype, advertise the discussion in whatever manner you chose, and host and moderate it. The barrier to holding a discussion is broadband Internet access, a computer, a headset with microphone, and the knowledge to get Skype installed and a Skypecast created. This is exactly the flat world that Thomas L. Friedman discusses in The World is Flat. I found people hosting their own sociological and political discussions, some of them with very controversial subjects, with people from all over the world participating.

Think about that for a moment. If you were to mash the technical ability of Skypecasts up with the right social networking service, you could bring a great deal of the worlds population closer together than ever before. Say you're a student and you are writing a paper on antibiotic resistance. You've got a few questions that you're not able to answer through the Internet resources, so you set up a Skypecast for next Wednesday evening and publish this event through a social network service, asking for help from any experts on the subject. On Wednesday you get to talk with a couple other people writing similar papers and you all share resources, and in the middle of that you get a leading expert join in that has seen your advertisement for the discussion and now multiple people benefit.

The potential uses for churches and small groups really excites me. Imagine a globally diverse small group that anyone can be a part of, or just listen in on. A pastor can host a discussion on applying the scripture to your life, and interact with real people with real questions in a moderated format. I think these sorts of technologies will ultimately re-define the roles of evangelism and caring in the physical church to include the global community. The phrase, 'your neighbor,' will not mean what it used to mean.

I haven't posted here much, so to reiterate why this interests me so much, I am very driven to get churches on-line. By that, I mean encouraging churches to utilize web ministry and enabling them to use technology for ministry and evangelism. Why? Because I strongly believe that on-line evangelism will be highly important in reaching future Christians, and that God has many great things in store for technologies such as Skypecast and social network services.

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