I came across this webapp called Meatspace. It’s a chat system with a twist. In lieu of a profile picture, each message you send is accompanied by a two second gif captured by your webcam.
Though not unique to Meatspace, two more things add to its charm. First, the messages are “ephemeral”. If you weren’t there when they were posted you don’t see them (the server doesn’t store conversations).* Second, anyone can drop in to the conversation. There is no need to create an account or login.**
I think it’s an awesome idea!
I find myself way more confident than I would be in real life talking with people I am meeting for the first time.
Three things that stand out about Meatspace,
The ability to choose what people see
- Instead of an endless video stream you get to choose 2 seconds!
- The way it’s setup inherently encourages creative gifs.
- The gifs are also slightly sped up, making them energetic.
The ability to see exactly how others see you
- This is a huge one for me! One of the biggest complicators I have when talking to people is a needlessly vivid and not-so-positive imagination of how they see me. But here you can see exactly how you are being perceived (and quiet the silly illusions). You can also see what expression they had (or intended to have) when saying something. With this ability to look back in time, you can realistically interpret what was said (again quieting those silly illusions).
The use of gifs!
- Can convey emotion clearly without having to resort to emoticons and acronyms.
- By nature is more personal than plain text messages.
- Less demanding than video streaming like Skype.
- It’s as fast as texting.
Other awesome things,
- It works on phones
- The source code is on Github.
In short, I love the idea of using gifs to augment text communication! And I hope it gets adopted widely.
Here’s an XOXO talk by Edna Piranha on what inspired her to create Meatspace.
*If someone in the conversation screencaptures/saves on their end… you’re kinda on your own there. However, if you are in a chatroom where you don’t know who all the users are at a given time, obviously don’t post dumb things!
**If you are not comfortable with the idea of a publicly known chatroom that’s accessible by anybody, the team behind Meatspace has posted all their source code on Github and they encourage forking. So if you wish, you can just fork the project on Github and host it yourself sharing the url with only the people you want or setting up some kind of login mechanism.