Zorap: A Site to See

One Site to rule them all, One Site to find them,
One Site to bring them all, and in the internets, bind them!

Nobody likes it when people play favorites. It makes them feel left out or unappreciated. The fact remains though that people have their preferences in everything. An article in Psychology Today acknowledges that parents play favorites, and have a favorite kid. Girlfriends have their favorite ice cream. So I have no qualms about noting that I came across a site that quickly became a favorite of mine. It’s still on its way to going mainstream, but I have high expectations for it. It’s like knowing a band before they become big, or going to High School with someone who grew up to be famous. The only person that made headlines from my High School was the victim of a fairly grizzly murder. I’m not sure that counts.

What does count though is being one of the first to declare a site king- the big kahuna. By now, seasoned SlapStart readers will know what I’m talking about. They’ve been here before. And now they’re back, and ready to hit the web with something that is sure to be a growing trend online. I present to you, Zorap!

My first review of Zorap was that they had a wonderful site, but their homepage did little to reflect how interesting it was. It was this hidden nature of their product that caused me to admonish them to make it more accessible. And more accessible it is. Zorap 2.0 is now accessible via Facebook, the most common social network on the planet.

Zorap is your personalized chat room, on steroids. It has all the basic functionality you would expect, including chat and webcam. From there it gives you a shared “room” within your browser, from which you can view content from around the web or from your computer. First you log in with Facebook, then you open a room, invite some friends, and chat, talk, and share content. From the web you can concurrently view movies from Hulu, Youtube, Justin.tv, and your Facebook account. Pictures can be from Google Images or Facebook. If sharing content from your computer you can upload Videos, Songs, Spreadsheets, Word docs, and Powerpoints. Once uploaded each of these are displayed in a series of widgets within the browser. It’s like a shared online desktop.

The applications for Zorap are vast. Most commonly it can be used as a meeting place for friends. I can see long distance relationships being supported by it. You can have your own Zorap room, play some music, watch a show together, all the while being able to talk on webcam,or chat online. Zorap could readily be used for business applications as well. The video conferencing capabilities along with document sharing is great for online discussions or meetings.

Zorap brings it all together in such a way that is comfortable, friendly and inviting. The windows resize and rearrange automagically as you add more content to the page. You can make some large, and some smaller depending on what you want to focus on at the time. The options to bring up content are on the left. By default the chat and search widgets are open, along with the Fan Rooms. These are all portals to your own room. So if I search Hulu for a video, I will first select the video, then invite some friends, and then they’ll all be invited to come watch that with me. If I open up a Fan Room, it will again prompt me to invite some friends and open up a new room. These rooms are based upon things I’m a Fan of on Facebook. With the Chat interface I can Chat via Facebook, Google, or AOL, and invite any of them to share a room online. From there we can start viewing contents, webcams, or whatever we choose. All parties can contribute to the room.

A few comments I’ll make about Zorap is that there’s no taskbar for all the windows. It would be great to minimize certain things completely and then open them up again. If it’s a chat window then it should start flashing to indicate that there’s a new message. The only other major upgrade I have would like would be allowing people to utilize the service by logging in with their Google, Yahoo, or AOL accounts as well. Currently you can only log in with Facebook.  From there I can login to Google or AOL to chat. It would be great if I could log into Zorap with all the major accounts. Allowing people to access Zorap from multiple accounts would open up the tool to more people. In particular, sometimes you might want to chat with someone who isn’t your Facebook friend yet.

Zorap is truly a phenomenal tool, one which will revolutionize the way people meet online. It brings together many tools that we’re familiar with, and does so in such a way that is both fun and useful. I can share documents, conduct phone conversations, talk with friends or family, or any number of cool things. With a few tweaks I predict it to become a staple of the internet. A place where people of all backgrounds will gather for multimedia enriched meetings.

Today we were confronted with the sad news that Zorap is no longer with us. We leave this here as a tribute to its superior vision and implementation of its concept.

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