This morning’s Observer column:
My mother used to say that television had killed the art of conversation. One wonders what she would have made of Chatroulette, the current sensation du jour. It’s the implementation of a stunningly simple idea: live online chats with randomly chosen, complete strangers.
After logging in two frames appear on the left-hand side of the screen. The lower one shows you (or what your webcam is pointing at). The other is labelled “Partner”. Click “New Game” and you’re off. An image of someone or something appears in the upper frame.
“Connected,” says the status bar, “Feel free to talk now.” If you don’t like what you see, click the “Next” button and you’re instantly connected to someone else. And so it goes.
To anyone unused to raw, unmediated Net culture, Chatroulette will come as a shock…