Media hype around the livestreaming “Meerkat election” helped Twitter, which put up its own Periscope for social livestreaming last month. Today, RhinoBird.tv officially launches its beta during that the spectacle of the running of the 119th Boston Marathon in the greater Boston area, offering an opportunity for thousands of Android users along the race route to download the app and crowdsource livestreaming the event.
The original funding for RhinoBird came from the Knight Foundation in 2012, where a proposal to “aggregate live mobile video streams of breaking news events into an easily searchable world map, connecting users directly to global events as they unfold” won the 2012 Knight News Challenge.
A couple of weeks ago, I talked with Felipe Heusser, the CEO of RhinoBird and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, about the app and livestreaming in general.
Our video interview is embedded below.
As Heusser notes, along with Android, RhinoBird also works within the Web browser using the open WebRTC project. It is, as they say here in Massachusetts, wicked fast.
Whether its approach to organizing livestreams around channels in a #hashtag convention familiar from Twitter is adopted en masse by hundreds of millions of Android users over the coming months will be fun to watch, along with those watching runners today.
If the app catches on, you’ll be able to watch the #BostonMarathon on RhinoBird.tv. Good luck with your respective races.
Today, Twitter’s livestreaming app is live in the Apple App Store.
Cue “Periscope Election” hype! More seriously, it’s a slick app: easy to sign up, browse, network and, most importantly, livestream.
Twitter once asked us “What are you doing?” Now, Periscope asks us “What are you seeing?”
When I logged on, I saw windows into our shared worlds from all over the globe.
Fast wireless broadband service, social networks, and powerful smartphones with great cameras create a new context for livestreaming services, which has led tech companies, entrepreneurs and huge corporations to bet big on them.
I downloaded Stringwire as well this week, but it’s not on par with Periscope’s features, UX or integration. I wonder if NBC Universal will create clear incentives for its use.
As I found some time ago, Google Hangouts can also be streamed live to YouTube. There are an awful lot of a Android devices in the world; I’d keep an eye on how that evolves, along with Facebook’s video features.
I also wonder about who will use these apps and where. Established celebrities can find their audiences. This morning, I saw people tuned in to see Mario Batali cook this morning. As with Vine and YouTube, unheralded talent may find success as well.
Most of life is, however, mundane by definition. I look forward to seeing how Periscope and other apps help us choose and share moments that resonate with the rest of humanity.
The New York Times “First Draft” and Politico Playbook picked up the “Meerkat Election” idea today, so get ready for the hype cycle to wash through the commentariat. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush “meerkatted” yesterday — which is to say, used an app integrated with Twitter on his smartphone to livestream an event online. If that doesn’t sound revolutionary in 2015, congratulations: you’ve been paying attention to mobile technology over the last decade.
When you read posts that predict Meerkat’s prominence in 2016, keep a couple things in mind.
First, Twitter did change how political reporters covered the campaigns in 2012, so everyone is looking for the “next thing,” particularly in the New York and DC media world. Politicians and media using a shiny new app that “conquered all at SXSW” makes for easy copy and gets clicks. The integration of Meerkat into Twitter means that social network will drive more attention and adoption, although the app’s access to the company’s social graph bears watching. By the time 2016 rolls around, Twitter’s native live streaming function may be the new new killer campaign app. Steel yourself for the “Periscope Election,” friends.
Second, when you hear hype about technology like this breathless account in Politico from political reporters and operatives, be extra skeptical. Remember, 2008 was the “MySpace Election” and 2004 was to be the “Friendster Election. Heck, 1860 was the “Telegraph Election!” (Ok, the last one isn’t quite true, but you get the idea. )
Third, at present Meerkat videos are not archived on the site or embeddable . While that could certainly change in the months before the election, particularly if the startup gets funding, it is a consideration for journalists. That doesn’t mean, however, there isn’t another option: Ben Rubin, the developer of the app, told me that you can save Meerkat streams to your phone and upload the archived session to video sharing platorms like YouTube, an ability I subsequently confirmed.
Finally, livestreaming is not new to American politics. Presidential candidates like Senator Chris Dodd were using uStream in 2008. Ask President Dodd if it changed the election. A couple comments on Medium add some context, including one by Matt Browner Hamlin, who worked on the Dodd campaign.
Livestreaming was available in the last two presidential campaign cycles, but it didn’t fundamentally change our politics. It didn’t even shift the primary in 2008, as Browner Hamlin noted on Medium:
To state the obvious, the Dodd campaign’s innovative use of live streaming technology and public engagement via streaming video did not move the needle an inch in the Democratic presidential primary. Maybe it’s because we were eight years ahead of our time. But more likely it’s because the forces of political sentiment in America are too big to be influenced by one technology platform or one medium of engagement.
A covert video did affect Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign, but the reality of small video cameras had been part of the fabric of our lives for years before.
I wrote this post entirely on my iPhone, so it’s fair to acknowledge that media has evolved in recent years. (I’ve also been guilty of hype about new platforms myself.)
It’s also fair to acknowledge that Meerkat does something that defines innovation: it makes it easier to livestream on your phone.
“I think that because we remove friction to watch or go live (everyone can consume or contribute on the go with one click) it makes it easy for people to gain a larger audience while keeping the intimacy with the audience,” commented Ben Rubin, via email.
Faster connections, powerful smartphones and much high social media adoption do change the context from past election cycles, but will they change the outcomes or the dynamic?
We’ll see. The White House press secretary is doing a Meerkat interview today: maybe someone will ask him whether the size of the lens, camera and screens used to view it are a revolution or an evolution.
Before I dove into the sometimes controversial waters of technology and development, I talked to a lot of people about parenting and screen time, including some experts. I wrote about what I learned in a column about the parenting challenges that ubiquitous screens pose in the 21st century.
Following is a quick list of insights to scan & share, with a big lift from danah boyd at the end.
1) Screens are ubiquitous in modern life. How we integrate them into our own lives will influence our children.
2) Engagement with our children as we consume media, whether on TV, tablets, or print, is critical to their learning.
3) “Parents can’t go wrong if they engage in “dialogic learning.” As you read or watch screens, talk about the stories.
4) There’s an important difference between children passively consuming media on a screen andusing it to be social. Watching a video isn’t the same as Facetiming with grandparents.
5) Parents should consider if screen time consuming media may be replacing human-to-human interaction.
6) Kids generally learn better with materials they can touch, vs what they see on a screen. 3D > 2D.
7) Not all screen time is detrimental. It should be age appropriate, time-limited, & involve parents.
8) Children learning through play are negatively impacted by screens playing in the background.
9) Watching TV or videos 2 hours before bedtime can have negative impacts on children’s sleep.
10) Common sense: use of mobile devices by parents, ignoring children, can lead to them acting out.
11) Too much interactivity in ebooks and games can actually distract from story lines and learning.
12) From danah boyd: “Parents: check your own screen engagement when you’re with your kid. We set the norms.
13) “When you’ve got younger kids, talk through every interaction you have with a screen” — danah boyd
14) “When your kids are older, talk them through how they want to allocate their time in general” — danah boyd
15) “It’s not about ‘screen vs. non-screen’ because homework is now screen. It’s about thinking about what time should look like.” — danah boyd
16) “What makes screen time ‘educational’ is…how the tech or media is integrated into life more generally”- — danah boyd
17) “Forgive yourself for using tech as a babysitter sometimes.”— danah boyd. Have empathy for other parents, too, especially on plane rides or long bus rides.
Fellow parents, your comments and thoughts on screen time, kids and learning are welcome.
If the medium is the message, what are we to take of a service famous for short text messages evolving into a medium that can be embedded in other messages? Twitter has take a (web)page from YouTube in making videos created on its platform metastatic, spreadable and shareable.
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) March 2, 2015
While the ongoing shift to more pictures and video isn’t going to make Twitter into the next Instagram — it’s its own thing — the social platform has certainly come a long way since its text-based origin in 2006!
When I joined Twitter in 2007, I thought it was interesting, combining presence technology with mobile publishing and microblogging. A year later, I saw much more potential in the service than the sarcastic dismissal it tended to receive in the media and business worlds. It wasn’t until a disputed election in Iran in 2009, when online discussion and sharing of documentary evidence leaking out of that country led CNN to change its coverage, that the world started waking up to what Twitter would eventually become. While my embrace of Twitter has led some commentators to consign me to a triumphalist, intolerant cult of scolds, I continue to hold that there’s considerable value to be found here, premature eulogies notwithstanding.