Live Video Streaming

Meerkat and Periscope are two new apps that allow people to transmit live video streams.  Basically, you can transmit live video via your smartphone or webcam to followers who want to watch the action in real time. With Periscope you must be connected through Twitter to view streams, but I discovered a webpage of aggregated Meerkat streams so I was able to check a few out by logging in with my Twitter account.

I reviewed the two most popular streams available:

  1. Pretty Women on Rodeo – live stream of a woman getting ready for her #shoppingspree; and
  2. Chill by the Pool – live stream of a bikini-clad woman hanging out by a pool.  The highlight was the spectator comments when the woman rinsed jam off her fingers in the pool after eating a jelly doughnut.*

I suppose these two samples might be considered an improvement over the ever popular fridge tours people streamed when the apps first appeared.  And I suppose part of the appeal is the ability for spectators to write commentary and append “hearts” to things that are liked or popular.  It makes watching interactive, maybe not as interactive as being there in person, but perhaps a nice alternative if you can’t physically be there.

New ways to use the live streaming, beyond fridge tours and pool chilling, are already being put to the test. The potential is enormous, such as streaming events for news coverage, but also poses a number of challenges about who can stream what and how to manage it. For example one sporting arena has “banned” live streaming by patrons during games specifically so broadcasters can make all the money. But how will this be monitored and enforced?

Meerkat streams disappear immediately, meaning it’s not available after the initial showing. The video may still be saved and stored somewhere, but for viewers it’s not available. Periscope, on the other hand, allows video to be accessed for 24 hours after the initial streaming. It’s just a matter of time before an app appears to save the streams, similar to what happened with Snapchat.

Even if you could save it, would you want to? Saving video requires a lot of memory and is challenging to search because it’s a non-textual format (i.e. no text available for keyword searches). Finding anything would require an organization system, which many of us are not willing to create and maintain.

*Not only was the stream boring, but as a swimmer I was totally grossed out by her washing her fingers in the pool.

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