9 thoughts on “ ChatRoulette by Sarita Yardi ”
making connections where none previously existed
Sarita Yardi has been doing a lot of thinking about ChatRoulette these days and I wanted to share a short essay she wrote to explain ChatRoulette to the uninitiated. I think that this is a fantastic introduction for those who aren’t familiar with the site. (And I’ll follow up with my own thoughts in the next post.)
ChatRoulette is a new website that connects you face to face with Internet users around the world. When you go to the site and hit Play your webcam turns on and you’re connected to another person. Most times you’ll hit Next within a few seconds and be connected to someone else. Sometimes people stop to chat. Basically, instead of surfing the web, you’re surfing people.
ChatRoulette evokes patterns of behavior that are as old as the Internet. Our fascination with spontaneous and random forays into anonymous online interactions echo those of early text-based chatrooms and bulletin board systems in the 1990s and even earlier. Shock, boredom, play, and voyeurism characterized these early online environments as much as they do now. In ChatRoulette, there is no registration or login; staring into the bedroom of a complete stranger is fascinating and completely disconcerting.
Danah boyd | apophenia
ChatRoulette reminds me of when people said blogging was like making a private diary public. The idea of sitting in your bedroom showing your face to anyone in the world is simultaneously anonymous yet deeply revealing. This violates almost all social norms of the offline world. If someone walked up to you at a cocktail party, stared at you intensely, then simply walked away, you would feel confused and probably offended.
I was recently asked, “If a parent wanted to know if their kid should be on ChatRoulette, what would you tell them?” My experience on ChatRoulette has been about 10% sexual voyeurs, about 10% performance art (people dressed in cat costumes), and about 10% signs (show me your [x]!).