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There’s also something liberating in the protection that the “Next” button provides.Striking up a conversation with the person next to you on the subway is risky, and potentially time-consuming.We watched each other typing and reacting to the words that scrolled next to our images, co-stars in a postmodern silent film.

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On one of my first Chatrouletting attempts, I found myself talking to a man from Lyons, who had muted the sound.

Ternovskiy was supposed to show foreign tourists around the shop, pulling various nesting dolls, lacquered boxes, and kitschy Soviet paraphernalia from the bright vitrines.

The job was easy but exhilarating.“I was really excited to work there, because I met, like, hundreds of different nations in a day,” Ternovskiy said recently at a coffee shop near his mother’s apartment, in the far reaches of northwestern Moscow.

“I just couldn’t feel the value of the money.” He was fired within a month.

The following summer, Ternovskiy holed up at home and began to toy with the code for a new site that would re-create the atmosphere of the store.

When the actor Ashton Kutcher was in Moscow in February, as part of a U. State Department technology delegation, he berated Ternovskiy for what his stepdaughter had seen on the site. There is, for example, the video of the dancing banana, crudely drawn on lined paper, exhorting people to “Dance or gtfo!

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