February 17, 2010

Is ChatRoulette The New YouTube?

There's an interesting piece in NY Magazine about ChatRoulette, a relatively new Internet...experience.  If you have a computer, a cam and a streak of daring, you can log on to ChatRoulette and instantly be connected with thousands of users around the world for instant chats.  If you're want, you can then have an online "conversation" or you can just click the "next" button and you will be connected with another random stranger.

The NY mag writer, Sam Anderson, draws some conclusions from his visits; the average age of people rouletting is 20, it's a 2 to 1 ratio of men to women, and, this being the Internet and all, a great deal of them are looking for some sort of sexual play.  But a lot of them are just chatting, or even dancing to Michael Jackson with strangers half-way around the world.  Anderson found his first solo experience on the site a little crazy, as he found himself "nexted" by heavily made up teenage girls and male masturbators.  But when he logged on with a friend, he found the experience much more entertaining and fun as well.

Anderson writes that, in a way, this site harkens back to the more Wild West days of the Internet when the web was inherently messy and random. In the early days,  there was no searching or categorizing what you wanted/needed. There's something bracing about that in an age where the net has become such a controlled experience, via megasites like Facebook.  Regardless of whether or not you are bold enough to turn your cam on (I haven't...so far), the article is a fascinating look at the instant connectivity of the web...as well as it's dangers.  

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