Saturday, February 13, 2010

Omegle: An Impressive "Web 2.0" Chat Service

Are you interesting enough at first impression? Do you introduce yourself well? On Omegle if you don't you're disconnected.

My impressions:
1. Technically, it works really well.
2. What it is: web-based chat with random strangers.
3. Reminds me of my early days on IRC. You meet new people that are guaranteed to be at least somewhat interested in talking.
4. There is full anonymity, in the sense that you don't have a consistent identity that's kept from one conversation to another.*
5. There is no cost to disconnecting, if you don't like the conversation.
6. It's very much like speed-IRC, as in "speed dating" as opposed to regular dating.
7. Since you get a very specific IRC-like experience (meeting new people you'll never meet again anonymously), you can practice like Socrates did on the beach (Imri corrected this to Demosthenes: http://itotd.com/articles/319/demosthenes-stones/). You have only a few minutes and a few sentences to convince someone you're interesting, or they just disconnect, and you both move on.
8. You still have a lot of the IRC-like stuff, as in being asked "a/s/l" and so on. [age/sex/location]
9. I wondered how secure it is, who is logging the conversations/ip addresses involved etc.

All in all, a cute service. Also nice to know it was written by an 18-year old that's just finishing high-school, and as I said, it works well.

Cheers,
Imri.

My take on it is similar, I was very excited:

Omegle has a simple interface. No complex functionality at all. You can chat, and you can disconnect. You are anonymous unless you choose to tell the other person who you are.

I just finished my first chat there, and it was fun. It seems like a waste to me to be able to chat with people and yet not necessarily keep in touch, but the experience with the types of people you meet makes all the difference.

Unlike Imri, I was not reminded of Demosthenes meeting random people on the beach, but rather of the old classic movie adaptation for the novel Logan's Run where random people who match you exactly are transported to you so you can have non-committal sexual relations. Only in Omegle's case, not sexual.
This won't turn into a dating service (I'll probably be proven wrong).

The experience felt like a shot in the dark. You find someone random, defying the whole idea of the Internet where interest groups on every subject meet each other and become a marketing force based on that affiliation.

More interesting, this service as Imri mentioned with the Demosthenes story, raises the subject of how one introduces oneself to be interesting. Also, it allows us to talk to people without any prior knowledge or prejudice on who they are, which normally affects our social engine--how we treat other people and get treated.

The story of Omegle once again shows us that the cost of developing on computers is small to non-existent. If an 18 years old guy can create this, anyone can learn how to.
 

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