As ugly as Gchat is sometimes, it is still a wonderful way to share links with coworkers, test dumb jokes out before you tweet them, or even get a quick read on the state of your current friendships. But there is a thin veil of mystique attached to one-on-one chats, especially since, quite often, you can have no idea where the person currently is. Are they sitting in a cafe somewhere surrounded by other time-wasting freelancers? Or are they at home, curled up in bed in their underwear?
Enter Spyke, an experimental new chat client that is raising some interesting questions. Fast Company friend Christina Chaey at The Date Report writes that Spyke works just like a regular chat platform, with a privacy-eroding twist:
…in addition, you each have to authorize each other to access your respective webcams. A “Take Pic” button then lets you take a snapshot of the person you’re chatting with, using their webcam, so you can see what they’re up to. The catch: They have no idea when you’re taking those photos, and vice versa, meaning the resulting shots are often of people at their most unguarded.
It’s not intended to replace Gchat. But it is designed to keep you on your toes.
Creepy? Sure! But that’s partly the point. According to its New York-based creators, Kate Ray (a developer) and Holly Hendon (an artist), it is largely a social experiment meant to raise questions about our chatting behavior–to make us conscious of things like body language and facial tics when we’re gossiping about our pals or sharing embarrassing links to BuzzFeed. The duo unveiled the project this past weekend at the art and tech conference Seven on Seven.
And just like that, “Lol” suddenly carries a bit more weight to it, no?
Read more about Spyke at The Date Report. Happy chatting!