New avenues for social capital?

With businesses pinching pennies and thousands looking for jobs its no wonder Skype has become a valuable tool in corporate operations, such as the interviewing process. This video chat software offers an inexpensive, low hassle way to meet potential employees, as well as to communicate with current employees. Many companies, such as Zappos.com and Maxim Integrated Products, use Skype as their internal phone system. Companies have employees speaking through their computer speakers and telephones, visually through the web cameras, and exchanging instant messages and documents. Maxim Integrated Products saved $200,000 on long distance calls using Skype, and $2 million annually.

Companies have now found ways to integrate Skype into marketing themselves as accessible. Many small business owners report that Skype helps them stay connected with their clients and allows them to meet at anytime necessary. Businesses have also claimed it increases productivity and stimulates the creative environment. Skype also helps expand small business clientele geographically, which, without the use of Skype, is typically a financial burden.

Skype has not only helped small businesses get ahead, but has also played a large role in connecting networks of families, friends and colleagues, which could increase social capital. However, according to Putnam, the Internet decreases social capital. Perhaps in some cases this is true, but for many, social networking platforms have opened a whole new social capital opportunity to millions of users. Regardless of the debate, it is clear that Skype continues to open up new avenues for businesses, family and communities.

Rachel Kaylor, Writer

Danielle Murray, Researcher

Mandy Baker, Designer