When people talk about Web 2.0, one of the things they talk about is IM ing and social networks like Facebook, My Space, and Twitter. One service I have used is ICQ (I seek you). Lesser known in the US, it is extremely popular internationally and allows one to communicate in real time with people you don't know from Adam. Originally a text only service, it now allows for web cam and microphone to speaker contact.
ICQ is designed for strangers to meet, not just people who know each other. You can search for people by age, sex, keywords in a profile such as "classical music" or "cock fighting". This allows one to presumably find people with common interests. I have talked over the years with people in England, Thailand, China, Canada and even the United States. Recently I talked to someone from Siberia. She claimed to be able to see bears outside her window.
The webcam aspect brings a level of reality to the proceedings. You can see the plant behind the person or the wall that needs painting. Once when using the webcam I saw the daughter whining in the background. A stern command in Mandarin sent the youngster scampering off. Webcamming has made me put a clean shirt on and trousers, while previously I had ICQed in my underwear.
The ability to talk to people from different backgrounds and wildly different environments is one of the fulfilled promises of the Internet. It, like anything else, has its pitfalls. Ladies wanting to show you pictures of them in their girdles occasionally pop up. I'm old enough to remember when ladies wore girdles.