Future of communication blocked by past

gilbertMy brother, as a senior in high school, experiences the stress we all had to experience at one point or another — college interviews. For this, my brother and parents must travel to USC, a college he toured previously, during spring break. Is this necessary?

Why has remote communication, through apps like Skype, not been fully adopted by society?

This is not to say that these apps are not massively popular. By 2010, more than 663 million people had signed up for Skype, not counting other communication apps like Google Hangout and ooVoo. People love to chat face-to-face with loved ones, especially considering the nonexistent price tag. Indeed, face-to-face remote communication is a phenomena now spanning multiple platforms. Facetime on the iPhone allows free access on the go through 4G or Wi-Fi.

I cannot deny the ubiquity of these apps. What I can deny, however, is the stigma toward these apps for modern businesses. One may ask the question — why does the traveling businessperson still exist? It is puzzling, considering the obscene price of travel and the time it takes away from family.
 

 
Personal communication is the tradition of certain businesses, prestigious colleges included. Perhaps these businesses believe this method produces a better impression of the applicant or partner or it could stem from arrogance. Complying or not complying with the inconvenience of physical travel could root out wishy-washy businesses whose partnership isn’t worth a plane ride. Personally, I would deem all of these reasons insubstantial, and substitute the word tradition for downright archaic.

Although it is far more sensible to conduct interviews via Skype, there is some value in the personal touch. A study entitled “Video killed the interview star,” conducted by the Degroote School of Business in Ontario, shows that Skype interviews foster more negative impressions for both the interviewee and interviewer. On average, numbers were far lower for interviewees whose interviews were conducted via Skype, and thus were far less likely to be hired. They were also rated less attractive, personable and intelligent.

Is this Skype’s fault, or an inability to mirror our societal habits with the fast moving world of technology? Talking with someone face to face, in the same room, will always take precedence over remote communication. The camera is rarely flattering and people are always preoccupied with what the other is doing outside the phone call. They could be doing anything from watching television to getting a footrub. An interviewee will never feel like they command respect, and this always leads to lower scores.

Despite limitations, I still believe apps like Skype are the undeniable future of communication. The only way to overcome a stigma is to immerse oneself completely in it.

Reach the columnist at iagilber@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @izzyg25