Chatroulette (NSFW!) is one of the latest buzz as only the Web can produce, and a very interesting one ! Oki, let’s put aside all the crappy and insane content you can randomly find on Chatroulette. This is scary, I hope it will disappear as the service grows (and it grows fast !) and the site will filter more (still, you can just skip it).
So, i’ve tried the service, and in fact you can’t make it more basic: it just connect you to a random person with whom you can interact via a webcam and a text chat. You don’t like the person in front of you ? You just skip to the next one. That’s it.
At first what amazed me is the entrepreunarial side of this story. How can a 17 year old russian guy, with this simple idea, generate such a buzz, having a world-class media like the New York Times as a first coverage and US leading VCs interested and inviting him to discover the start-up scene ? That’s what I definitively like with the Web. Not only this platform still allows disruptive product 20 years after its creation1, but the knowledge and required ressources are accessible for young people, when you’re naïve enough to innovate without noticing it !
But what is really interesting is the product itself. Again, apart from the inappropriate content, you fall in various situations : you find people alone, dancing, tired, bored, just waiting to talk with anyone, parties with several persons in front of the webcam, sometimes laughing at you (yes, this is not for sensitive persons :p), family playing a monopoly or a poker (true !), people playing with a plush or stupid mask. In fact I did the test : i’ve put a mask of Sarkozy I bought last year for Halloween (can you find scarier ? :p), you can’t imagine the number of great laughs I had with people, funny to think I’ve made some people’s day ! Apart from that, I had interesting talks with a certain number of people, from Finland, Ukrain, US, Brazil, and so on.
I don’t know if there can be a real interest to use Chatroulette after the first discovery days, and we’ll see in the next months the real potential of this site. But so far, it is really impressive for its capacity to give an instant picture of internet users in the world, with their habits and expectations.
The « social » term has been so much overused in the Web ecosystem, when most sites are just connecting you with people you already know… That’s why Chatroulette is refreshing, it reminds us what social really means : meeting new people !