Imagine having a private conversation about relationships or work or sports with a few of your closest friends. You’re sitting at a restaurant. The people in the booth next to you might be able to hear the conversation, but they don’t participate.
Now imagine that private conversation online, on a live video stream for others to see and hear. Those people in the restaurant booth can now participate in the conversation. They can applaud when you say something poignant, they can post questions in a live message feed, and invite others to your “private” conversation.
Of course, the conversation is no longer private. Your friends and eavesdroppers are in other locations all over the world. Only you and your friends are on video, the visitors are not, but they’re all joining in the conversation to varying degrees.
This is Blab.im.
Blab.im is a new social video platform that supports casual public chats. It’s the closest equivalent to eavesdropping on those private restaurant conversations, albeit in social media.
Where some apps provide channels for private selfies and videos (e.g., Snapchat) or public, live streaming videos (e.g., Meerkat, Periscope), Blab.im takes social video a step further by encouraging users to share their private conversations with the rest of the world.
Blab.im is not for the private video conversations we want to remain private. Save those for Skype.
Blab.im’s short history began in the redevelopment of another little-known social media platform, Bebo (which stands for “blog early, blog often”). The story goes like this: Bebo’s revamp team was kicked out of the office for two weeks by their leaders, Shaan Puri and Furqan Rydhan.
Puri and Rydhan were treating their team like a start-up. Get out of the office, go to a coffee shop with good wifi, and come up with a new plan for Bebo.
The group came back with something completely different.
Do a YouTube search of “Blab Launch” to see Puri and Rydhan’s pitch for their new platform at Launch 2014. Blab.im has changed quite a bit from that introduction, but the concept is the same.
What started as a momentary video messaging service turned into a space for idea generation and sharing.
Now, before you say “there’s no way I’d let the public listen to my private conversations,” we’re not talking about the sweet-nothings you exchange on a date, although I’m sure some people would watch and listen if you streamed it live online.
Blab.im is used to connect people who may otherwise never be able to connect to have conversations about relationships, sports, politic, community service and other interesting topics. Recently, I participated in a Blab.im for #GenKind24, a virtual, 24-hour event designed to spotlight acts of kindness (see the image at the top of this blog).
This marathon brought thousands of viewers and participants from different walks of life to talk about being generous, how to be kind, and what it means to “see” people (pun intended).
You can use Blab by connecting it to your Twitter account. You can also download the Blab app in the Apple iTunes store.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.