Gabriel Valdivia


hey! good morning. im just finishing making this cup of coffee--2 min

i'm realizing i would never say that in a phone interview i'm doing with anyone else, but i guess your format is ALREADY WORKING. my guard is so down

Haha that's great to hear!

ok, caffeinated. so, it's NOT a platform, you've made very clear to me, but it's a project you built with your colleague at facebook, charlie deets

to do...intimate interviews?

Yeah, exactly

A few weeks ago I was in NYC at Killscreen Festival and was really inspired by their format.

They paired an expert in gaming with an expert in another field (i.e., architecture) and talked about the *ideas* behind their work

I thought that was a really compelling idea and left super energized

so you're saying, this idea of conducting and display interviews in chat-like bubbles wasn't literally something you picked up at the festival, it was inspired by one of the talks


what I liked was that they were not talking about the "craft" of making videogames

they were talking about the ideas behind it

so it felt really universal

and accessible to someone like me who doesn't make games

and then you said, "we need to invent this site!" how did you go from a to b

Well, I had been thinking about the idea of "public 1:1" chats for a while

I've always been fascinated in creating products that explore transparency

Last year I worked on a video sharing app that would record your reaction as you watched a video

I think being truly transparent online is very interesting, especially today

And at the same time I found myself having really inspiring conversations with my friends

And so I thought getting them to talk about things beyond design or pixels could be compelling

The chat format allowed us to talk about these "deeper" subjects in an accessible way

your conversation with charlie deets, your colleague at facebook who coded it, correct? that's a perfect illustration. i went into that assuming i'd be reading about design, platforms, whatever. it opens with you both talking about panic attacks and getting arrested in your teens

Yeah! I built the front end and he's basically a Wordpress wizard so he made it all work

That was a good one

i mean, technically you built a front end wordpress skin. and your interviews are actually going on inside any other chat system (we're in gchat right now). so i've been thinking about that--

it means you aren't a platform, ok, you won't sell for a bajillion dollars i'd assume, but, i would suspect that it only adds to the intimacy of your discussions. that you talk to people on the medium they're most comfortable in--texting, facebook messenger (plug for you guys!), or whatever

That's right!

It's been awesome for me too because it's forced me to actually have these conversations with people

in a very genuine way

And there have been times where I've been legitimately moved, which is really special

why do you think we're so much more intimate on these micro chat systems?

Well, I think we've developed a language over time for these chatting platforms that is sometimes a more pure articulation of what we're thinking

There are fewer distractions —fewer variables to be judged by

But we can also infuse some personality by the way we split the chat bubbles

Whether we capitalize our words or end them with a period

Whether they insult you and then are all like ?

Hahaha exactly!

And I think people feel comfortable doing that in a 1:1 format because there's not as much of a need to "perform"

You know?

There's nobody watching (in theory) and their "performance" is a reaction to the other person —in this case, me.

So I try to make it pretty informal and genuinely try to hear what they have to say

yeah i mean, i know this will be published on, and so im pulled between like, just

have a discussion, and, you should have really said "I'm talking to Gabriel Valdivia who does design for Facebook VR"

but that's this whole other meta layer to our chat

i do know what you mean

id actually like to do more interviews this way

though i suspect most of my subjects would be surrounded by 20 PR people typing for them

That's a shame

did your PR person write that or


Idk I think people have developed a pretty nuanced BS meter and can detect when something is just "PR talk"

That can sometimes be necessary I guess, but when we're talking about *people* not companies, or products, I think it's less acceptable


but it's amazing what is still, like, attempted

so...companies. what do you and charlie want to do with talkturkey

it seems like a true hobby

which doesn't exist online anymore!

everything has to be a startup

Haha, nah not everything!

It's more of an art project than a company

It was just really fun to have an idea and bring it to life in 3 weekends

We really wanted to see what happened once we put out these conversations into the zeitgeist

We wanted it to feel like someone took my phone, opened a chatting app, and accessed all these conversations

And since we launched it we found out that this is actually resonating with people

It's filling a void in the current dialogue

And that feels really good

So, we'd like to continue opening up with people about the topics that we don't usually get to talk about in public

and hopefully inspire other people to have these conversations

One of my favorite details on the site is the tweet bar at the bottom

"Respond with a tweet..."


Viewers can read a conversation and if they're motivated to do so, they can continue that conversation on twitter with the interviewee

And that's awesome because at that point it's out of our hands

it's between the reader and the interviewee and it feels like we just kickstarted a conversation that wouldn't have happened otherwise

it's great because it's actually where the chat-input bar would be, too

so you're already trained to want to type there

Haha yeah. We really loved subverting the current chat UI paradigms to fit our needs

Like the input bar

And the read counts at the bottom of the conversation are actually page views

whoa id missed the read count! that's fantastic

There's a few more details like that which we geeked out about ?

Also if you leave the tab without scrolling to the bottom of the conversation, your tab flashes with a (1) as if to say you have unread messages

haha ok that one was sorta driving me crazy, i'll admit



yeah it's aggro for sure

i like to imagine in 1 year this just totally looks like snapchat

it's 1000 stacked notifications

and you're the new buzzfeed

full aggro, in your words

(stealing aggro for this sort of UX description from here on out, btw)

hahaha it's yours now!

it helps that you have it on record!

Read by 4,221 others

Gabriel Valdivia


Gabe is Product Designer currently working on VR at Facebook. He spends his free time chatting with people on, playing video games, and watching movies.

About This Site

Talk Turkey is an attempt to have authentic conversations in public. Gabriel Valdivia interviews people over instant message and posts the conversations insitu on this site. Charlie Deets writes the code.

This website is not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed or sponsored by any real messaging service.