Skype CelebrationsOver the past decade, Skype has allowed users to break geographical boundaries and create new cultural and social norms of interaction in the digital world. With more than 1.4 trillion minutes of voice and video calls made using Skype, Skype has connected over 300 million users in just 10 years as compared to cell phone and telephone which did so in 25 years and 104 years respectively.

As more and more people begin to use Skype, users have gradually defined Skype more than just being a tool for video calls.

1. Political Freedom 

Although Aung San Suu Kyi’s had not set foot outside of the country (her last passport was last revoked 24 years ago), she continually fought for a greater freedom and democracy for her country through means that the digital age opened up. Even after her release in 2010, she maintained a busy schedule of speaking to various heads of state and her many supporters around the globe, sometimes through Skype.

From addressing students in a packed Virginia Tech auditorium to accepting humanitarian awards, she has used Skype to not just overcome isolation imposed onto her, but also make the world a smaller, better place.

2. Reuniting Families and Friends

Not new to people, Skype has always been a mode of communication between people who are geographically apart. But none has used Skype as creatively as John Clang, a New-York based photographer who moved from Singapore to NYC in 1999, before the invention of Skype. Suffering from the longing and sense of absence, Clang had always wanted to do a family portrait with his parents. Because “ultimately, a good photograph is one that brings us face-to-face with our own existence”, says Clang.

He then started his own intimate art series that used Skype and video projectors to create portrait of far-flung families as if they were all together in the same place. His photographs of these projections force viewers to consider the realities of modern family life and relationships.

He reached out to other families and captured their portraits at home in places such as Tokyo, Connecticut, Hong Kong and Washington State. The complete “Being Together” series of 40 portraits will soon be on display in a solo exhibit at the National Museum of Singapore beginning in early 2013.

As for how Skype is influencing art, Clang explains, “Art is about our imagination and the immediacy it brings to the viewers. Skype is a big part of that. It delivers instant images and sound that inspire our imaginations.” And for the future of Skype and his work, Clang daydreams, “Maybe in near future generations ahead of us, Skype can be 3D.”

3. A Global Education

Skype has also been used to empower students in all parts of the world where educational learning opportunities may not be as open and developed in places countries such as Singapore. That was why The Global Learning Exchange was set up, a program that connected students and teachers across Singapore to California. The philosophy was to create a condition where teachers are able to creatively push boundaries when thinking about instructional teaching methods. By making lessons interactive, students are also encouraged to become independent and more focused learners as compared to the confinements of the classrooms.

Many other amazing stories have also been occurring out of Asia. As seen from the infographic below, Skype and technology in general have truly been a catalyst in breaking boundaries of what was previously humanly impossible.

Happy 10th Birthday Skype!