Imeetzu: Embrace Randomness

Imeetzu decided they had had enough. Instead they opted for the new name of Meetzur. Otherwise it’s the same service.

“Would you believe in a love at first sight?” Paul and John ask a forlorn Ringo in “A Little Help From my Friends.”  We all, of course, know his answer.  Poor Ringo shrugs and says, “Yes, I’m certain that it happens all the time” before turning off the light and crawling under the covers.  Poor Ringo.

Ringo is right.  Love at first sight does happen all the time.  Think about that very special person – romantic or otherwise – in your life.  Odds are you just happened to run into them randomly, say, near the free cheese samples at Whole Foods or the baggage claim at the airport.

There’s an excitement of the prospect of meeting someone cool randomly, so much so that the process itself isn’t random: we put ourselves out there.  We go to Whole  Foods.  We check our bags.  Nothing is truly random.  And sometimes we even go the extra mile to create the conditions conducive to chance encounters.  I mean, that’s why we go to bars, right?  For as the old adage says, “luck is the residue of design.”

So, what if a Web site tapped into that excitement, that mystery, by creating an environment for such an encounter to occur?  Well, you don’t have to think “what if,” because, as you may have guessed, someone’s already a step ahead of you.  That “someone” being the cool folks behind iMeetzu.

imeetzu

iMeetzu is a Website that combines the idea of randomly meeting and chatting with someone one-on-one with the new idea of being able to publish and rate conversations.  iMeetzu also allows for social networking with anyone you should happen to meet here so that you can have additional interesting conversations with your favorite contacts, as well as check out their profiles and learn more about them.  And that’s the cool part: iMeetzu has taken pre-existing Web concepts like chatting, user generated content, and social networking, and mashed it all up.

Repressed Chat Trauma Surfaces

When you get to the home page, you quickly learn that imeetzu “connects you with the first random person available to chat.  Just click the button and go!”  Now, I must admit, I haven’t chatted in literally 8 or so years.  The last time I chatted, in fact, I got really into it, stayed up really late, and blame that for me getting a C in my Spanish class (true story.)   But duty called, so I plunged in.  iMeetzu allows you to enter your name and specify the gender (Male, Female, Do Not Say) of the chat recipient.  You can also click on a Google map to chat with a stranger in a specific area.  That said, I went with the default settings, and in no time, I was chatting with a fine dude, I presume (?), named JIMBOB #11.  Here’s the chat; buckle up, it’s gonna be a wild ride!

Mike: hello?
JIMBOB #11: hello…
JIMBOB #11: asl?
Mike: whats that mean?
JIMBOB #11: age sex location
JIMBOB #11: lol
Mike: oh
Mike: would rather not say
Mike: WRNS
JIMBOB #11: yeah lol
JIMBOB #11: thats okay
Mike: lol means laugh out loud right?
JIMBOB #11: =D
JIMBOB #11: lol
JIMBOB #11: haha yeah
Mike: WELL SEE YOU L8R!
JIMBOB #11: okay then
Mike: bb
JIMBOB #11: cya

Kind of like the Lincoln/Douglas debates, eh?

The Visitor Experience

My chat-fright effectively repressed for another 10 years, I then assumed the role of a visitor.  I surfed around the site via the navigation bar, which is at the bottom of the page, beginning with Browse Users.  The subsequent page defaulted to “New Users,” where I could sort by “Photo Users Only,” “Top Rated (All),” Guy Users, and Girl Users.  Currently, when browsing users – either girls or guys – the only factors that’d make me want to pick a person are their rating.  Once I click on a person, I can learn more about them, but I instinctively wanted to sort them by, say, hobbies, location, movies, etc.  Or perhaps in future iterations those topics can be listed in each user’s thumbnail when you search by Girl or Guy.

Next I went to their Image Log page, where users can upload images.  Then suddenly I had a revelation, which made my aforementioned functionality suggestions seem quaint, even irrelevant.  On the Image log, there is no rhyme or reason to their order or layout, beyond the date they were uploaded.  It seemed kind of…random.  And it was kinda cool.  Admittedly, the pictures are geared towards younger users, but the concept of not really knowing what’s next was intriguing.

Which got me thinking.  Our collective Web experiences have been molded in the crucible of structure.  You can search Myspace users by area code.  You can search your Gmail using all kinds of sorting techniques.  It appeals to our inherent desire for order.  After all, a world without order leads to randomness, which leads to chaos, which leads to bloodshed, and that’s bad.

This is where iMeetzu has something going for it.  After all, the page’s main hook – randomly IM with a stranger – is intriguing, and as such, sets the tone for the entire user experience.  I told myself to not fear random-nesss.  Yes, random-ness is my friend.

With this epiphany now marinating in my brain, I moved on to “Chat Logs.”  Here you can search Chats by Recent Chats, Best of All Time, Best of Recent, and Photo Logs Only.  Again, beyond their five-star ratings and dates, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the chat’s, content-wise.  But that’s the point!   Structured random-ness!

Having gone through the guts of the site, here are some additional, “global” musings:

  • Could be helpful to have the navigation bar on top as well.
  • When I initially tried to chat, I tried to select “Ohio” as the location of my would-be chat stranger. (My loyal readers will know that I love Ohio.)
  • Not sure if it was my connection or not, but my computer didn’t like that state.  The site alerted me it was trying to locate a chatter in Ohio, but after a half a minute or so, I decided, perhaps, Ohio wasn’t in the cards for me.  But moving forward, this tool – enabling users to seek out chat partners by location – has incredible potential.
  • The wording on the site – the copy, if you will – is very cool, funny, and laid-back, which fits the vibe perfectly.  More of that please!

iMeetzu: Re-defining Randomness

The Oxford English dictionary defines “randomness” as “Having no definite aim or purpose; not sent or guided in a particular direction; made, done, occurring, etc., without method or conscious choice; haphazard.”  Well, by now it’s pretty evident that iMeetzu is more than randomness.  Rather, it uses randomness as a means to an end.  Kids these days wallow in silly chats, in weird, brief IMs, in pictures, and in other ways that all coalesce to form a steady stream of data that is never-ending, yet strangely addictive.  IMeetzu, in a seemingly counter-intuitive way, seeks to harness this stuff by randomizing it, by injecting an element of the unknown, of the unpredictable, that has generally been minimized in our online experiences. And by embracing randomness, who knows?  You’ll likely meet some really cool people in the process.  Someone please tell Ringo!