Live environments

As previously discussed (I & II), change or movement in time plays an important role in making interaction design ‘alive’.

Over the holidays, my brother pointed out a chat website called paltalk ( It is an interesting concept because in addition to live streaming chat rooms, many users have a webcam showing their live faces and voice online during the chat. My brother expressed excitement about chatting on a public chat room in paltalk and I wondered what made the chat part of it so exciting. Looking at this based on what we know about time, why should someone be inclined to visit websites to talk about random topics in public chat rooms?

I’ve hardly watched any TV for the past couple years because I haven’t had the time for it. I do remember one motive that gets people hooked on TV though. Sometimes people will watch TV because we feel like we might miss the opportunity to watch a show that might only be airing once. The TV becomes alive for viewers and TV viewers create a relationship with the broadcasted information such that they want to ‘be there’ when ‘it happens’. As always, design is not only what we put in, but what we leave out, and the inability for people to record programs contributed to influencing addictive behavior with broadcast television.  That trend is changing with so many people recording programs and watching them online now, but it’s still important to ‘be there when it happens’ for events such as the Superbowl because the live experience cannot be reproduced.

Similarly, with paltalk, the live environment is such that being there during a discussion to talk to and see interesting people cannot be replicated exactly. Here, the ability to constantly have unrecoverable live interactive discussions contributes to enhancing the design because it serves as a motive to continue interacting addictively in fear of missing out.  That’s even why some college students addictively log into facebook.


  1. datrushurtz

    This website is pretty neat, I wonder how many actual celebrities they get to use it and overall, how many users PalTalk has?

    I agree with you in that the roots of this idea may be related to the success of facebook. I find that if I don’t log online every day, I may miss someone’s birthday or some other “big news”.

    I wonder if adding video cameras to facebook like PalTalk would work? On one hand, it’d add another level of interaction which may allow people to connect better, but on another hand, all the people who log online to facebook to secretly stalk their friends may not want to be seen.

    You brought up another issue about the whole idea of tivo vs. tv. I know my parents not only tivo shows they won’t be home for, but they tivo shows they will be home for, with the intent of watching the program on the tivo 15-20 minutes after it starts, fast forwarding through the commercials, and finishing at about the same time the real program ends. The problem is like you said, they feel they aren’t missing anything by not watching it live on television. If producers can’t figure out a way to combat this issue and give watchers an experience they can only get while watching live, I foresee dwindling tv ratings.

    I can think of a few small things that have been done already, such as when watching Deal or No Deal, you can text the number of a “lucky case” and possibly win cash. You need to watch the show live to do this, but the chances of winning are so small that I don’t think anyone feels like they missed out if they don’t, and I doubt this concept is actually successful.

  2. davidroyer

    Yeah – interesting ideas. I don’t care about watching TV the first time it airs, at all. The only exception is sporting events. I really like to see live sports. I don’t actually enjoy recorded sports at all. I don’t think I am unique. I think it has something to do with me linking my identity to my favorite team (Go Eagles!) and I feel the ups and downs when they play.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s