Here’s something to keep your eye on. Yesterday I read about a live video service called Airtime that’s been started by the founders of Napster. After connecting with your Facebook account, the service tries to match you up with people for live video conversation.
At the beginning of each conversation, Airtime tries to match up your interests and suggests topics that both parties might want to discuss. You’re suppose to be able to narrow your conversations to people with similar interests, or geographic area, but the service still needs some refinement. I tried to connect with near my small Texas town and I ended up speaking with a very nice gentlemen in London.
The service is suppose to be relatively clean since it uses your Facebook profile to remove the element anonymity that some people hide behind. I did have one odd encounter with someone I think was being a smarty pants, but overall, I enjoyed the experience and I am very intrigued by the service.
With tools like Google Hangouts and Skype, a service like Airtime might not have an obvious business benefit. But if nothing else right now, you could use the tool to practice your conversational skills. Since Airtime can match you up with random strangers, you can practice your speaking skills without being afraid of looking silly in front of someone you know.
You can think of each conversation like a mini Toast Masters meeting. Instead of speaking in front of a crowd, you are challenged with quickly finding common ground with a complete stranger.
From a business perspective, the ability to create a conversation out of thin air is definitely a skill worth developing.