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April 28, 2009

3 Saved Me from Eating Cow Bones

by deirdrewalsh

When I was a kid, I would sneak onto my Aunt Colleen’s computer, sign into Prodigy, and get on chat rooms.  I pretended to be an expert at sewing.  Don’t ask me why or how I picked this hobby, but at least it was better than some of the other room choices like “Night People.”  And back then my parents “Don’t Talk to Strangers” rule didn’t translate online, so I would talk it up with random grandmas (cool enough to know how to use DOS) about teddy bear patterns.  

After reading, “Tired of Old Web Friends? A New Site Promises Strangers,” in the New York Times yesterday, I decided to test out a new Web site called Omegle created by 18-year-old Leif K-Brooks.  This new site connects you via live private chat to a “stranger,” where you can talk about everything or nothing.  There are no usernames, no logins, no rules .  Just pure anonymity.  

From the New York Times article: 

“You can’t learn anything from someone exactly like you,” said Mr. K-Brooks. “The goal was to create a new kind of association: anonymous interaction with a stranger that complements existing social sites and helps people broaden their horizons.”

The problem is people can be idiots when their reputation is taken away.  Sam Lawrence, author of one of my all-time favorite blogs Go Big Always, once included the following cartoon series in a post called On Social Networks, nobody thinks you’re a dog.









With both of the above scenarios in mind, I wanted to test out how people would act 1:1 anonymously. Would I get another “sewing expert?” This platform doesn’t seem too revolutionary, but after my rant about personal vs. business identity last week, I figured testing it out would be a good experiment. 

My first conversation was worthless.  I chatted with a “stranger” for less than a minute. They disconnected after finding out I was from “Bush country.”  In round two, I met Lucas from the Netherlands.  Apparently, he was having a hard time meeting people.  Even though the system said 2221 users online, he kept connecting with ad bots. 

But we started to chat.  He was planning a trip to the US in late September and was getting feedback on his research on Texas (which seemed legit).  He started talking about how he can’t wait to have Jiff Extra Crunch Peanut Butter, and I told him how I would love to visit Holland, especially since they produce the best candy in the world – Dutch Gummy Pigs.

Here is the conversation:


COW BONES???  According to Yahoo! Answers, this is legit information.  









We had a really nice chat and I decided to break the “stranger” rule and gave him my Twitter account.  

I’m not sure how often folks would want to chat with a random stranger, especially about cow bones and I don’t really see a B2B use case; however, I wonder if something like this would work for AA or teen help lines,  where real-time anonymity is key.  Let me know your thoughts!

UPDATE: Lucas is real. Right after I posted this, he commented on a previous post. Yippee. New friend thanks to the strange site Omegle.


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 28 2009

    Ok so I tried it. And I also got someone in the Netherlands. What’s up with that, Emilie?

  2. emiliekopp
    Apr 29 2009

    What can I say, us Dutch are early adopters. And may I say I still think the gummi pigs are delicious.

  3. hilstreet
    Apr 29 2009

    sewing? LOL

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