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Covid is also affecting how people use the internet — transforming it overnight from a simple source of entertainment to a vital lifeline that allows those who are currently shut indoors to keep in touch with their family and friends. From friends using browser extensions and conferencing apps to hang out together, to piano bars delivering virtual livestreams to their patrons, platforms like Zoom, Google Docs, and Netflix are no longer about work, organization, or entertainment. At first, we used basic instant messaging platforms like AIM and Yahoo Messenger, and often these attempts were chaotic, since typically everyone had a different version of the movie we were all trying to watch together.
Over time, however, technology improved and streamlined our efforts; when I did a weekly group rewatch of Avatar: The Last Airbender in the early s, for example, we used the Basecamp -made group chat Campfire, and used the same streaming source to manually sync all our episodes. Then the platform Rabb.
Its biggest attraction was that users could remain anonymous, without needing to log into a client. But that service, despite its popularity, was abruptly shut down in amid ongoing technical problems and an acquisition by the voice chat client Kast , leaving many people scrambling for alternatives.
Organizing cross-platform streams became too complicated, she said. That means familiarizing ourselves with a whole new coterie of online tools — or at least adapting them for new uses. Among the wide array of apps being used to organize and assemble group movie nights, two tentpoles seem to have emerged: Discord and Netflix Party. In an interesting bit of analog irony, drive-in movie theaters are also making a comeback. Sophie told Vox that many people in her fandom communities had been turning to Discord , a popular chat client that allows people to create semi-private, invite-only servers, for mimicking something closer to offline interaction.
Discord is similar to Slack and many other chat clients, but Discord has a prominent voice chat feature that can be active all the time. It also comes with a screen-sharing feature that allows groups of people to watch a movie if one of them is streaming it.
While comparable clients like Zoom have features deed primarily for project management and work, Discord is primarily deed around socialization, and has a more informal aesthetic. Launched in , Discord was an immediate hit in the video gaming community, because it allowed players to easily chat while in-game. It then became massively popular as a way of privately and publicly organizing across fandoms and other geek communities. Many Discord servers contain tens of thousands of members, and function more as internet subcultures in their own right, while others are much smaller, but still integral parts of their larger niche communities.
With the spread of the coronavirus, however, Discord has gone mainstream on a whole new level. Discord servers are popular, so invites are easy to come by, and new servers are easy to create and . Last week, the company responded to the demand by increasing its overall server capacity and temporarily increasing the cap on the of people who could a live screen-sharing channel from 10 to The app promptly, though briefly, crashed again due to the high traffic.
Many of you are looking to Discord to communicate with loved ones and colleagues at this time, and we will continue to monitor and scale to keep that happening. You can also create additional voice channels. From there, you can broadcast a movie from your laptop, and other people in the voice chat with you can watch and react to it in real time.
Have fun! But of course, not everyone wants to learn how to navigate a whole new intricate chat platform just to watch a movie. As word of the extension spread, online communities turned NetflixParty into a social hashtag, with many people organizing group chats and scheduling events around the feature:. Meanwhile, numerous other group streaming and chat clients have been publicizing ways to use their platforms in the time of Covid Of course, there are plenty of other forms of online socialization, from game-playing to group singalongs, for which you might need more than a simple screen-share and a chat window.
Thank goodness that there are tools for those too. The uses of livestreaming apps in the current moment are too numerous to count. Across the country, other shows that must go on have done so virtually: The popular punk band Dropkick Murphys streamed its annual St. The metal band Code Orange streamed its album release party on Twitch.
A popular Twitter thread by Broadway diva Laura Benanti encouraged high school theater departments around the country to share their canceled performances via video, generating a heartwarming series of responses. Birthday parties are moving to Google Hangouts, board game nights are moving to Zoom , and popular group party games like Jackbox are encouraging people to try playing them remotely.
We're social creatures so keep being social. One of the most fundamental tools for group gatherings has proven to be the remote conferencing platform Zoom , now expanding far past its professional purpose, as families, schools, and groups of friends assemble for a wide range of unexpected encounters.
You truly haven't lived until you've witnessed 12 pre-schoolers and their teachers hold a Zoom video conference pic. Had a friend say they couldn't make a zoom cocktail party because they have another one scheduled for that same time period so yes you can still feel unpopular during the apocalypse. The New York Times reported that more than , people downloaded Zoom in a single day last week. A Facebook group for Zoom memes has ballooned , while Instagram is full of people screencapping their Zoom conferences with accompanying hashtags like unity, isolation, and coronavirussucks.
The quarantine has highlighted the recent emergence of Google Docs group chats , ly popular among teens and now expanding to other forced shut-ins , where the chat occurs in the document comments section, and often directly within the document itself.
By the same token, group chats themselves are facilitating the use of Google Docs and spreheets on a whole new scale. Not all ppl in my class gc collaborating on a google doc of our midterm answers to help everyone get thru this midterm this shit is so beautiful it really proves that humanity still exists. Then there are the more unexpectedly creative uses — like organizing live dating role-plays through Google Sheets, and turning spreheets into artwork:.
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