I’ve never enjoyed group video chat. Latency problems aside, it’s awkward to sit and wait for one person to finish speaking, while the rest of my friends look slightly down and to the left with glassy-eyed stares. Shindig, a new online video chat platform, aims to make talking online more natural by imitating real-life events: users can freely mingle, moving between conversations with the same ease as you might move through a dinner party. Shindig has used this to great effect with online book tours and backstage interviews at events like the recent Warped Tour, letting people all across the country participate without leaving their homes.
Check out the interview below with founder Steve Gottlieb to learn more about how Shindig is different from competitors like Skype and Google Hangout, as well as his plans for online nightclubs.
Some choice excerpts from the interview:
Q: Why did you create Shindig?
A: Video chat has been around conceptually since the 30s. Everyone may remember the Picturephone’s introduction in the 60s at the world’s fair. For whatever reason video chat has never fulfilled its promise. We think that the reason has been that it’s locked you into one conversation and made you feel really imprisoned. We think that our whole interaction, by allowing you to move in and out of conversation, makes video chat finally comfortable and inviting. We think this is going to fundamentally change the way people communicate online and the way they feel about video chat.
Q: Can Shindig be used for online classrooms?
A: Part of teaching is not just the broadcasting out. It’s the teachers interacting with the students and their response to the students, and lots of the current platforms that are out there don’t allow the level of interactivity that you need to really tune something to a particular audience. What we’re geared to is to provide you that interactivity and also to give the social interaction of the students being able to talk to one another. We think that social interaction is an important part of learning.
Q: What other applications does Shindig have besides book tours and teaching?
A: We envision people having online nightclubs. It will all be around hosts who have great lists of friends. What will crop up is not one uber dating site but will be all kinds of super-cool nightclubs that are all for people of particular tastes.
We’re also very excited about seeing this getting used for charity events. For online fundraising, instead of the money going for a rubber chicken, you know, for bad food. Getting people informed, and excited, and supportive of one another and to do that all online in a really frictionless, efficient way to raise money and awareness, we think that’s really exciting too.