Farewell, Skype

After eight years, this afternoon TPM officially signed off of Skype.

That’s not something particularly visible from the outside. And to be clear, we only used the service as an instant messaging platform. We never used it for telephony or conference calls or video chats or anything like that. But as numerous current and former TPMers can attest, for almost the entire history of TPM as something beyond a single person blog (which ended in 2005), Skype has been deeply embedded in the organization’s DNA, functioning as the hive brain synapses stitching together reporters and editors and programmers and publishing staff, between two offices and – a bit more weirdly – within the same offices.

Back in January 2006 when we opened our first office near the corner of 28th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan, we decided to use AOL Instant Messenger as the way we’d communicate through the work day. But one-time TPM reporter Justin Rood wouldn’t have it. We had to use Skype. It was clearly better. It allowed separate, standing chats. It was better. And did he mention it was better? Yes. Again and again. In typical Rood fashion he was dogged and more than a little annoying but also 100% right. And the TPM hive mind has been running on Skype ever since.

One of the running jokes about our offices was that sometimes people would come in and find an office oddly quiet. Why isn’t anyone talking with anyone else? Well, they were. Everyone was talking. They just weren’t ‘talking’. They were Skyping with each other – even in some cases where they were only separated by a few feet. That was weird. But also kinda how we rolled. (This is the main reason I basically abolished skype on the publishing side of the organization 2 or 3 years ago. Why aren’t we just getting up and talking to each other?) Many TPMers also found Skype – or more fairly, the way we used it – a tiring taskmaster, constantly having to keep up on the various standing chats they were part of, like a fidgety, distracted rat in a lab experiment, with condemnation from David Kurtz taking the place of electrode shocks. Over the years, various little traditions, running jokes, best practices grew up around it like barnacles.

But times change. We found a different service that fills more needs for the organization. So this afternoon, we all stepped off the ship, climbed onto the new vessel and pushed it out on to the open sea, uncaptained.