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Skype phone blinks

Skype phone blinks

January 26, 2005

From John Perry Barlow:

I was sitting at my desk when Skype started to emit the old-fashioned bell tone that signals a request for a voice chat. I looked at the window associated with the request and saw a bunch of Chinese pictograms where the name should be. Some kind of Asian chatspam, I figured, and I ignored it. A few minutes later, it rang again. The name of the caller was "Kitty11_3". There was also a text chat box on the screen, also from kitty11_3 which read, "I need a friend." I was skeptical. I figured that "Kitty," or whomever, was probably looking for "friends" to come see her "relax" in her web-cam equipped "bedroom." But I took the call. A delicate Asian-sounding voice came from someplace in Cyberspace. "Will you talk to me?" she said.


"I want to practice my English."

"Why me?"

"Because your name is John. I think that anybody named John speaks English."

I remained skeptical, but further conversation convinced me that she was telling the truth. She really had no idea who or where I was and had plucked me at random from all the Skype users named John. Kitty11_3 turned out to be a 22 year old girl from Hanoi, who, like her father, works for the state-owned oil company. She had managed to get five of her neighbors in the Hanoi suburb where she lives to go in on a DSL line and WiFi which she had set up herself. Her boyfriend is off in Korea getting a master's degree in telecommunications. She has three sisters, and her real name is Vu My Dung.

We talked for a long time, in voice, text, photographs, and URLs. I sent her to my home page, so that she could find out more about me. Then I helped her set up an account on, so that people could find out more about her. She sent me a picture of her boyfriend and the dreams they made together. Her spoken English did indeed need practice, but she wrote English with correct lucidity.

Skype is connecting people.