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Chat Roulette

I am trying to respond to Professor Mittell’s question about Chat Roulette, and just went to post my reply and it was lost somehow…one of those times when “technology” is not a time-saver.

My point was twofold, first, I don’t think that Chat Roulette will be nearly as popular next year as it is now.   If we look at sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace as models for sustainable social networking sites, they all offer something like the oportunity to share information, join groups, sustain or build relationships, etc.  Chat Roulette doesn’t offer its users the oportunity to do any of that, and I also don’t see much room for the site to be used for any purpose outside of its original design/intention, which is to provide a way for strangers to have momentary online interactions.

I do, think, however, that the site responds to teen culture in a way that is worth examining.  Boyd makes the point that teenagers are often restricted by transportation issues, curfews, and the drinking age, and have little opportunity to “hang out” in public without facing these restrictions.  Boyd says, “Youth have very little access to public spaces.  The spaces they can hang out in are heavily controlled and/or under surveillance.”  Chat Roulette is a perfect example of a public “space” that is not restricted by adult involvement.  Kids can easily access this space, and once they are there, they can have unregulated social interactions, which is a rare opportunity for today’s youth.  I wonder how the generation who becomes used to this kind of social interaction will respond to “live” interactions once they reach adulthood and are relieved from the restrictions that caused them to take advantage of these digital social experiences.

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