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It is social search, not in the sense Google means, which is web search refined by your clearly articulated online social networks, but rather social search in the sense that Chatroulette users are continually searching until they find someone with whom they want to interact socially.Chatroulette presents a smorgasbord of the human condition, with shocks, cocks, hugs, and friends all potentially staring back from your computer screen.v=JTw Jetox_t U[/youtube] While there was some speculation that Merton was actually Ben Folds, that rumour was largely quashed nine days after the initial video when Ben Folds recorded an ‘Ode to Merton’, mimicking Merton’s style right down to the hoodie, and playing his own improvised piano songs, but upping the ante somewhat by doing so in front of a live crowd.3 While there might be some legitimate debate as to whether Ben Folds’ homage was flattery or just a savvy business move cashing in on someone else’s viral hit, the internet petri dish that is Chatroulette is certainly going to be seen as ripe for commercialisation in many different ways.The clones are already marching in, including Random Dorm and Faceroulette. v=Lfam Tm Y5REw[/youtube] If you need something a little more highbrow, Kieran Healy on Crooked Timber did ask Chatrouletters to “show me ur books”, but the real litmus test, which irrefutably demonstrates that Chatroulette is a microcosm of the internet, comes when the cute cats take over; enter Catroulette.We’ve decided, at least for the time being, to hide IP & host information as some user-identifiable information was found in some entries.” What the Chatroulette map clearly flags is that in online contexts, notions of privacy and anonymity are slippery at best.While it was a little worrying to hear Google CEO Eric Schmidt being so flippant about it, his general point that we should never presume anything done online is entirely private or anonymous is good general advice.’ While these reports are not without some grounds – there do appear to be a lot of Chatroulette users who are unlikely to be legal adults, and there is certainly an annoyingly high percentage of faceless men masturbating on camera – this problem is neither new nor in any way unique to Chatroulette.
This mash-up uses screenshots and the IP addresses of Chatroulette users to extract geographic locations and place them on a Google Maps-powered globe.
Judicious application of the F9 or ‘Next’ button means many users spend more time searching than socialising, more time hunting than chatting, but that’s part of the joy: most Chatroulette users don’t know what they’re searching for until they find it.