New development: I’ve created a premium Smoky Drinky Bar on appear.in (just click on the link to go there). This will cost me $12/month. I can cancel it any time I like. It’s supposed to be able to allow 12 people in the room at the same time.
The difference between the free version and the premium version is that in the free version the video streams are sent between people, while in the premium version the video streams come from a central host server, as described here.
For background I’m currently using a snapshot of Foxy’s Tamarind Bar in the British Virgin Islands. My current snapshot, taken earlier today, has the stools up on the bar before it has opened. If someone can get a full screen snapshot of it later today, I’d be glad to have one, because I can’t get one myself.
Anyone can visit the Smoky Drinky Bar, although antismokers aren’t welcome, of course. All regular readers and commenters of mine are welcome, of course. Eating, drinking, and smoking are permitted/required. At present I’m planning to leave the room open until I have enough members, after which I’ll probably lock it and only members will be allowed in. I’m not sure how to add members, but I think that if someone shows up while I’m in the bar, I can make them members – if I like the cut of their jib. And I can kick people out if I don’t like the look of them.
The only thing anyone needs is a computer with a webcam and microphone and a fairly good broadband internet connection. Most notebook computers have both a webcam and microphone built in. So do many smartphones. Earphones or headphones should generally be used instead of loudspeakers, in order to prevent feedback in the audio streams.
Assuming the premium Smoky Drinky Bar is better than free bars (more people, stable audio and video), I’m hoping it will become the meeting place of choice for people who want an online smoke and drink and chat.
Since Emily started the first of these bars last week, they’ve fairly rapidly attracted interest. Myself, Emily, GaryK, Nisakiman, Grandad, and RdM have all been chatting to each other in one venue or other, more or less successfully.
There’s no particular reason why the Smoky Drinky Bar should be restricted to the Anglosphere. Maybe sometimes it’ll be full of Germans or Spaniards or Russians. I think it might be possible to mute people you don’t want to listen to. If so, and you walk in one day and find it’s full of Japanese, it may be possible to mute all the Japanese speakers, and enjoy a conversation in your native Urdu. By the same token, it may be possible for two people to have a private conversation in a crowded room by muting everyone else in it. But I’m not sure, because I haven’t yet tried.
All this has been something that has been developing in several directions ever since Emily invited me to appear on the Smoking Section in Cambridge, Massachusetts back in March. What I liked about that show was that it had smokers talking to other smokers, which is something that I strongly believe should happen much more than it currently does. It led to me and Emily having frequent Skype chats, and me and her recording some of these chats as YouTube videos, some of which are included in the SmokyDrinky blog I started last week. The discovery of appear.in (by Nisakiman earlier this week), which allows people to meet up online for video conferences (or pub chats) has brought a brand new dimension to it all.
I’m planning to stick around today in the Smoky Drinky Bar. If I’m not in view, you could try calling out, in hope that I’ve left the loudspeakers connected. Leave a comment below or email me if there’s any difficulty.