OTR: the online office water cooler



Picture this: you’re in the office and want to tell your coworker in the next room that your boss has toilet paper hanging out of his ass. But you can’t get up to leave, and you don’t want to risk using your Facebook or Gmail chats because your boss can monitor your computer. What to do?

Never fear: there’s a new way to share photos and messages with your coworkers, without the risk of it being used against you later.

This new Snapchat-like browser application is called OTR (Off the Record). Like Snapchat, OTR allows users to share pictures and messages for a maximum of five seconds before they are deleted forever. However, unlike Snapchat, this data is not stored in your computer – there’s no trace left behind. In addition, users are prevented from taking a screenshot and saving it for later. If someone does try to screenshot your message, it is automatically deleted. Since Snapchat has been the subject of a fair amount of controversy since it was revealed that photos are not permanently deleted, this is definitely a good call by the OTR creators.

The application was invented by a team of competitors at the TechCrunch Hackathon, an expo for techies to come and hack away to create new and interesting concepts and applications. The team was from Lamplighter Games, a team of three people from New York who also created the popular iPad game Trivia Party.

Currently, OTR’s web design team has only made the service available as a browser add-on for Google Chrome – but Internet Explorer and Firefox versions are to be released soon, as well as an application for Yammer. Targeting office workers, this new form of social media remains based only on the web and not on mobile devices – a reasonable move by the company, since most of us are still using computers at the office, not mobile devices.

OTR now makes the risk-free sharing of office gossip as easy as sending a normal e-mail or message. So go ahead – download OTR and tell your coworkers about how you nailed your secretary, or share that picture of your boss passed out drunk at the staff party! The possibilities are endless – and everything is kept between just you and your coworkers. If only Peter Gibbons and his coworkers at Initech had this… I’m sure there would be plenty of shit to talk about Bill Lumbergh.

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