Meat Culture

Short Form


Meatspace Chat is an open-source public chatroom with a simple premise: Every message you send includes a 2-second animated gif taken by your webcam. No accounts, no usernames, no permanent database. In this talk we’ll look at the community, projects, and cultural norms that have grown around the chat, and what happens when you chat with strangers face-to-face.


A username. An avatar. A brief description and links to our other profiles. This is the de facto standard for online identity today. But what happens when we take that all away? Where some may see answers in an opposite extreme, anonymity, Meatspace Chat took a different approach: Put people face to face via animated GIFs, store nothing, and see what happens. This talk will take a look at the results, including:

  • How identity is formed given the restrictions of the format.
  • Cultural Meatspace norms that have emerged both naturally and from early users.
  • How the open-source nature of the project has shaped its growth. What changes have been made, what changes have been specifically rejected, and why.
  • Open-source projects that have formed both to interact with the chat and to fill in perceived feature gaps.


meat, animated gifs, identity, chat

Speaking experience

This would be my first conference presentation. I promise to practice the talk, in full, in front of as many family members, peers, and pets as are willing to listen.