In case you haven’t heard, here’s a quick explainer on Chatroulette, the new random chat service that connects you and your webcam with random other people with webcams to engage in whatever comes to mind.
Apparently, for many, whatever comes to mind is masturbating while wearing a cat suit.
The Nutshell: You head over to chatroulette.com, hit start, and your webcam and microphone are activated. You are immediately connected to another live human being, selected at random from the users online at the time. If a person doesn’t look interesting for whatever reason, you just hit next and you are shuffled over to the next random person. At the moment of this sentence being written (mid-day on a Friday) there are over 20,000 users online. Sounds Harmless, right?
My experience with it is reflected in the recent New York mag article by Sam Anderson. Chatroulette is just a novel interface for the sort of “break piggy’s glasses” internet depression that already is pervasive in online games and discussion threads.
While this service is sure to birth blog posts, Youtube mashups and maybe a meme or two, what I’m really interested in watching is what sorts of communities come to use it. I mean, sure, there will be some curious pre-teens on there—the same crowd that contributes the especially inane commentary over at 4chan /b/, but what about th groups that like to interact but would prefer to remain anonymous. Furries anyone?