I’ve just spent a few hours observing the patrons of Chatroulette. During that time I’ve witnessed a great many things that would give my grandmother a heart attack, and had exactly two real conversations. But let me first describe the setup of the social experiment: I simply sat at my computer and did other things while leaving Chatroulette running in the background and observed people while giving them absolutely no reaction.

I sincerely wish that I had kept track of the statistics but I’ve seen everything from trolls to stuffed animals to men masturbating to people intentionally being offensive. Shortly after starting Michael introduced me to Soundflower which I then proceeded to set up and use to pipe whatever audio I wanted to the application. This resulted in some dancing, and some music critiques.

But more interesting are the conversations that I actually engaged in. First, there was Jay, Jen, and their dog from Los Angeles. Jay was so set on getting me to react that I was unable not to. He played me a song on guitar and eventually I started a conversation with him. After chatting (him by voice, me by text) for a while Jen (a girl he is acquainted with) joined the conversation and eventually read me some of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Mask of Anarchy.” This continued for quite a while, but they eventually wanted to move on to their data collection. So, one genuine person I run into on the site and they’re doing the same thing I am.

And the other amusing conversation I had was with a troll that I identified immediately. After calling him on it, he and I actually had a pretty interesting conversation about “anonymous” and what his take on it was. He (I believe) and I talked for a bit about his technical setup for trolling and about setting up a fmylife + 419eater mashup for the best trolls of people on Chatroulette.

In fact, I might build that. All in all, a very amusing few hours.