Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come across three new different types of social media. First there was ‘Sublevel’, a kind of Twitter that allows the participants to post more than 160 characters. Second, ‘Ello’, facebook without the adverts and now following the events in Hong Kong there have been many references to ‘FireChat’ by the protestors. Here is the description from the FireChat app:

“FireChat introduces a new way to chat: “off-the-grid”.
Now you can chat with people around you – even if there is no Internet connection or mobile phone coverage.

Whether you’re on the beach or in the subway, at a big game or a trade show, camping in the wild or at a concert, or even travelling abroad, simply fire up the app with a friend or two and find out who else is there.
FireChat enables a new type of communication: “firechats”. These live and anonymous discussion groups can gather as many as 10,000 people simultaneously.

You can create your own firechats about anything that interests you – whether it’s the NY Yankees, Game of Thrones, League of Legends or Italian food.

Get FireChat and start bringing people together”

The democracy protestors have started using it because where there are large crowds the internet connection gets overloaded on mobile devices. Also the Chinese government has blocked other forms of social media. Given that Firechat doesn’t need the internet to work they can’t block these interactions.

There may also be some uses for it in HE institutions. Quite often the Wifi is not consistent across the whole institution. The ‘chatrooms’ look easy to use and comments can be made anonymously – which might be useful for certain types of interactions. Will have to investigate its potential!