I have had a tab with Omegle open in my browser for a couple of days now (and thus forgot from where I got the link 🙁 ) until I got my nerves together to try the service. Leif K-Brooks, its founder describes it as following:

Omegle is a brand-new service for meeting new friends. When you use Omegle, we pick another user at random and let you have a one-on-one chat with each other. Chats are completely anonymous, although there is nothing to stop you from revealing personal details if you would like.

In our age of social media, profile pages, nick names, and avatars, in short: our digital identity, Omegle is a clever chat client that is not bothered with these at all. I write “clever” because the absence of these familiar things as well as the fact that the person with whom you chat is chosen randomly, make it novel and intriguing.

Before I clicked on the big “Start a chat” button, I raided my brain of how I could wittily start a conversation though Leif provides a good pointer: “Say Hi”. What would I write next? How would I react to the stranger. What topic would I choose? Would I chicken out at the last minute and abort the chat? Questions over questions. The only strategy that I could think of was: Just dive in and see what happens.

My first attempt to talk to a stranger among the 2600 something users online about an hour ago was rather ill-fated as my stranger who was chosen randomly got cold feet and left the chat just after my – admittedly rather ordinary – conversation opening.

Aborted conversation
Aborted conversation

@injenuity had more luck and created poetry with her stranger (the link to the Twitter status update does not work anymore).

Reading these conversations, I am reminded of the early days of the internet when people said one could talk to strangers not knowing anything about them and everybody could pretend to be anybody. Still, back then one always had a nickname / handle in IRC chats etc. that one was recognized by. Also today we have our usernames, we fill in more or less extensive online profile pages, and even provide avatars. These things help in conversations. We build up our digital identities and hopefully trust with them so that we are regocnized the next time we log on and converse with others.

Omegle leaves out all these conversation cues and connects total strangers without anything that may help to pinpoint their whereabouts, their (established) identity, and any chance of knowing if re-connected with them is possible there.

I wonder what the average time spent in the chat is, what other strangers talk about. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a stream of these conversations (and analyze them if the heart desires)?

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