Where on Facebook and Twitter you choose the people whose lives (and perversions) you wish to gain access to, on Chat Roulette all you have is the “Next” button. Which means you’ll see a lot of what you don’t want to see before you see something you do.
It’s naive, as Fletcher suggests, to expect anything less than “brutal” in such circumstances.
“I entered the fray on a bright Wednesday afternoon, with an open mind and an eager soul, ready to sound my barbaric yawp through the webcams of the world. It turns out that Chat Roulette, in practice, is brutal.” Anderson, no doubt, was posturing for effect.
As is relatively well-known by now, Chat Roulette was created last November by a seventeen-year-old Russian named Andrey Ternovskiy: unlike Facebook and Twitter, social media phenomena to which it is sometimes compared, its control mechanisms are primitive.
The Internet’s new social media phenomenon allows you to chat face-to-face with a random selection of tens of thousands of human beings.
It’s a very good reason to give thanks for South Africa’s poor, government-induced bandwidth.
The closest I actually came this morning to talking to somebody on Chat Roulette was when I found an American college student staring back at me. I’ll say this: only after an hour of online research did it occur to me that our magnificent Department of Communications might for once be doing us a favour.
I was explaining that I was a reporter from South Africa; what did he think of the site? I wanted to participate, but didn’t think I could face the humiliation of a (near certain) failing grade. She was, apparently, uninterested in doing the cross-cultural thing with an unshaven white male – and who could blame her?
But that doesn’t mean Chat Roulette isn’t going to be huge.
It’s been attracting intense media coverage of late, and today Boing Boing – the world’s largest blog – weighed in with an angle by someone named Dr Danah Boyd: “What I like most about the site is the fact that there's only so much you can hide. Thing is, when I logged back onto the site for a second time this morning, my opening chat partner was a guy masturbating.
This isn't a place where police officers can pretend to be teen girls. Viva the ineptitude of the Department of Communications, viva!
This isn't a place where you feel forced to stick around; you can move on and no one will know the difference. By Kevin Bloom Read more: Chat Roulette, Time, New York magazine, Boing Boing Daily Maverick has suspended comments on the site.
Until the interwebs figures out a better way to deal with the naughty kids in the class, the space for your comments is on our Facebook page and the Twitterverse.