Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sam's Livestreaming Experience

I used Meerkat to do a tour of Lehigh's Linderman library. It crashed partway through, which was disappointing because I had some followers who were asking me questions. Since it's a library I couldn't really talk, so I had walked down to Lucy's cafe so I could talk and answer some questions. But by that point, the connection had dropped and not as many people joined in the second time I restarted it. But the first part was a lot of fun because I think our library is pretty unique and very pretty so there was a lot to show people.

I periscoped the dogs on the front lawn which was a lot of fun. I felt kind of weird talking so I didn't do that much. People notice when you're holding your phone at an upright angle instead of like you would if you were texting or something. It felt creepy. And speaking of creepy, while on periscope it was much easier to get a larger audience – it felt weird broadcasting to strangers. They were asking me where I was (which was a reasonable question) but also for me to turn the camera around so they could see my face.

I think it is suited for a lot of cool things. Breaking news is cool, because video can't lie. You're getting firsthand, live footage of whatever is happening. There's no need for remembering details or trying to understand the subtext of a news story – you're seeing it right before your eyes and get to judge the story from an impartial perspective. This reminds me of what journalists have been doing in Ferguson with Vine and Snapchat. Except now Meerkat/Periscope don't have time limits and are always live.

But I also think regular stories have potential. I browsed through Periscope a bit today and found some entertaining things that I would probably never watch on YouTube. A guy was streaming playing a record that I really liked and it was cool to listen along with other people and hear him talk about it. I also watched an editorial meeting for a news organization I follow. These aren't things I'd really care as much about if I didn't know they were happening right now and I had the possibility to ask questions and interact.

I think this raises some ethics questions and also continues the myth of journalists not being necessary anymore, because "anyone can be a reporter on the street." But people still need to be using these tools in news-worthy ways and be in the right place at the right time. In terms of ethics, I think it's a little rocky because how can you ask people for their permission to record them if you already are? I'm not sure if privacy is just going to be lessened, you can't have as high of an expectation anymore, or there are going to be people who are very against these tools, similar to glass.

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