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Vive Takes Social Visual

Face To Face, Like The Old Days

The internet was intended to herald a new era of international connection; a future where anyone could cross borders and speak to someone across the world without leaving their living room. ChatRoulette seemed to epitomise this, randomly matching you with another user from anywhere in the world for a video chat.

It turned out that the brave new world of cross-border communication mainly consisted of middle-aged guys from Kentucky exposing themselves to you, and ChatRoulette was relegated to a slightly sticky footnote in internet history. The dream of making new friends online has been revived, however, with new video messaging app vive.

The key to vive is that it isn’t entirely random; it requires the creation of an account through Facebook, to at least nominally put a bit of accountability into the process. Upon joining you’re asked three questions:

‘Which interests or skills would you like to share with the community?’
‘What kind of people would you like to talk with on vive?’
‘How would your best friend describe you?’

After answering the questions your account is subject to review before being accepted, although this seems to be more of a formality to weed out scams and the more obviously terrible people rather than a velvet rope for some kind of exclusive club of online chatting. Once accepted (usually within minutes) you are then presented with three basic rules for interacting with the community: don’t harass, don’t spam, and be respectful. On a side note, these are pretty good guidelines for life in general as well on vive. You can also specify an age range for potential matches as well as selecting whether you want to speak to people worldwide or just within your country (with a relatively low 150,000 current sign-ups, matches may be scarce if you make your criteria too stringent).

What vive’s founders are counting on for its success is this specification, this conceiving of the app as a tool rather than as an end in and of itself. vive wants to be a language school, a book club, a place for conversation, rather than the digital equivalent of that bar with £6 bottles of Corona and guys in silk shirts hitting on 17 year old girls as ChatRoulette turned out to be.

What also sets vive apart is its mobile focus. Video chatting has traditionally been limited to PCs and laptops, thanks to limitations in data and camera technology, but with crystal clear video and superfast WiFi now available to most mobile customers the market for casual video chatting on smartphones is growing. With Google Hangouts making video calling an ever more integral part of its package, and Facebook Messenger having introduced the option some time ago, the time seems ripe for social media to get visual.

Likewise, vive’s Facebook connection is vital. Like Tinder (but also nothing like Tinder, as its founders will hasten to point out – book clubs and language schools, remember) people are matched by the interests they’ve delineated on Zuckerberg’s umbrella site.

So far, the average conversation length on vive is reported to be around fifteen minutes – pretty good going, especially in the attention-shy internet age, and suggests that so far the app is staying true to its aim of fostering quality dialogue among online denizens. There’s no doubt that it’ll have some growing pains – the manual approval system will be tough to scale up, for one – but there’s certainly a space in the market where a genuinely decent social video site could fit.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Vive Takes Social Visual Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, October 10, 2014 Rating: 5
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