First Impressions of Airtime
Sean Parker, the famed founder of Napster, early Facebook investor, Spotify board member, and alleged utterer of “a million dollars isn’t cool”, launched a new company. It’s called Airtime and it just sent a 10,000 volt charge of awkwardness through my nervous system.
We’re talking “asking a girl out in 7th grade while your friends watch” levels of social discomfort.
What’s Airtime? It’s the cure for online loneliness. You log in with your Facebook account and then video chat with friends or strangers, and can also watch YouTube videos together.
Since users have to log in with Facebook, they’re less likely to misbehave.
I just chatted with a stranger who shares an interest in Radiohead and it was crazily intimate. One minute I was alone, and the next I was conversing face-to-face with a polite stranger in realtime.
Here’s a screenshot. I’m on the left. I don’t know the nice fellow on the right.
I’m a bit spooked and need to absorb the experience, but a few off-the-cuff thoughts:
- Discomfort might be a great sign. People are almost always initially uncomfortable with new means of digital sharing, but many have taken off (Twitter, Facebook, foursquare, etc). This is a way of sharing your free time, literally.
- Greg Coleman told his class at NYU Stern he’s always gone in the opposite direction of the pack. Airtime forces vocal communication between two people in realtime. It’s literally the opposite of the time-delayed, typed exchanges in front of crowds people have on all leading digital platforms.
- The concepts of identity is core to many digital services, and Airtime adds an uncurated richness entirely absent from all other platforms. It’s easy to make yourself look gorgeous on Instagram, worldly on foursquare, and connected on LinkedIn. It’s a lot harder to fake your identity during a back-and-forth without seeming contrived (people have good bs detectors).
- Hello, speed dating.
You have an assignment. Go try it out.