Monday, April 5th, 2010...12:32 am

Awesome Website Bro:

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ChatRoulette is a new website that is arousing many folks these days. For those of you who aren’t plugged into the latest web fads, the website enables you to have web chat conversations with random strangers all over the universe. Credit goes to NY Magazine for writing the review that strated much of the buzz and is probably a better read then the rest of this blog post. Here’s a nice little video that explains it well.

So basically you get connected with a person. As soon as you (or the other person) want to bounce, simply hit next (F9) and you’re on to a new random cyber conversation. There is absolutely no way to know or control who will pop up on your screen next. The magic occurs within the actual connection and also anticipating what will come next. Seems fun and cutesy, right? Not quite.

Spend just a few minutes on ChatRoulette and the first thing that will grab your attention are the erect penises. Yup, you read that right (BTW, I advise against checking out this website at work!) About one in every 6-8 encounters involve a webcam focused on a penis. For every 10 penises you might get a vagina here or there. Most of the penises click next as soon as they see a non-pervert on the other end. I’m not really sure with whom the penises are looking to chat but thankfully it is not me.

If you can get past the penis, things really get addictingly weird. ChatRoulette was created by a 17-year-old Russian kid named Andrey who wanted to help alleviate the boredom of teenage angst by creating something fun. Many of the non X-rated interactions on the website revolve around groups of teenagers who are messing around online. There’s a bunch of people, usually 20-something guys, who are alone in semi-darkness looking forlorn and emo staring into their webcam. There are also some non-perverted attention-seeking exhibitionists who are usually in costume, masks or performing some kind of act or skit. Here’s some screenshots of goofy chats. Most conversations last for just an instance as one person clicks off looking for something other than what they see on screen. It can be a bit demoralizing as one random dude after another clicks past you without blinking an eye.

So, why even go on ChatRoulette? To be honest, I’m not sure other than curiosity.
What I do know is that it can be exhilarating. The idea that you can talk to anybody, anywhere in the world is mind expanding and the exact type of thing that makes me dig the net. Making a connection and sharing a fun or interesting moment with a stranger is exciting. The other day I met a teenager from Michigan who was a Wolverine fan and we talked smack about Dick Rod. Last week after a Passover Seder my sisters and I convinced a dude to start the virtual “wave” and we completed it. Roy, Bwetty and I talked trash to a group of teenagers in Denmark.

I’ve visited the website about five times. Each time it was with other people to whom I was showing off how it works. I am too frightened to go at it alone so I recommend you employ the buddy system when spinning the wheel. It’s easier to dismiss the peculiarity when you can share a nervous laugh. The reaction of my friends varied from fascination to repulsion. My buddy Roy picked it up immediately and exhibited the boldness, aggression, penchant for vulgar slurs and a trigger happy middle finger that his 140 lb frame has never been able to support in the 3D world (Who knew that Roy had some Blakebone in him?). My sisters were so intrigued after our first experience that we went for an encore after our second Seder (in which I wore the mask!)

Awesome stuff does happen on ChatRoulette. A talented musician posted a video on YouTube singing to strangers. Ben Folds picked up on it (many thought there was an uncanny resemblance) and incorporated into his live concerts. Ashton Kutcher and other celebrities have been spotted chatting it up with random strangers.

The potential is certainly there for something more to come out of this new type of random communication. Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson is fascinated by it. Imagine being able to chat with strangers who share your interests or passions. I could talk to Johnnies fans all day about the Steve Lavin era! Imagine connecting with someone for an engaging one-to-one conversation when choosing a college to attend, moving to a new city, networking into a different career, or learning a new skill. Imagine ChatRoulette combined with LinkedIn. Is it possible that communication like ChatRoulette can be used as a device to transfer knowledge, customs, culture or philanthropy?

But for now ChatRoulette is what it is. A website for the lonesome, perverted, outrageous, bored and curious. Apparently, that’s a large group as ChatRoullete web traffic rises quicker than…you get the point.

Hope you’re bold enough to check it out!

  • Rob (Playa Pool Champ '10)

    Daily Show bit on ChatRoulette is classic. Check it:…

  • notarepublican

    It's funny how Omegle is a spin-off of and Chatroulette a spin-off of Omegle!

  • littty

    Nice work Wittman. A few people sent me the link but way to post it on up in cyber space. You're a real contributor!

  • Samantha

    The idea of chatroulette is great but there are too many freak on this chat website. They must search for solution because this is a big problem.