Live from the Global Village: Live streaming with Value

by Dr. Janet Johnson on April 18, 2015

In the past couple of weeks I have monitored the live streaming applications MeerKat and Periscope. Each time I click on a live stream–I am never sure what I will end up watching–sometimes it’s interesting and sometimes I think regular people should not be allowed to have smart phones.

Marshall McLuhan explained the global village:

As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village. Electric speed in bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion has heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree.

The global village is now acutely aware of life all around the world. The global village is live and streaming on Twitter.

Uses that I have seen that are fun and interesting:

1. News stations are taking advantage to engage viewers in showing the behind the scenes action.

2. Online web sites such as Mashable broadcast their top stories as well as engage the audience in conversation.

3. Museums are showing viewers their exhibits.

4. Government agencies are showing viewers tidbits about what they do. For example the Department of Interior showed Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms as well as showing views from atop the Washington Monument.

5. Short videos that take you into a moment one might not get to see in their every day life such as a sunset at the Golden Gate Bridge–or the view atop of the Eiffel Tower.

What I don’t find useful is:

1. A woman getting ready to go to the beach while waiting for men to comment on her good looks.

2. A man sitting on his couch taking song requests. Ouch!

3. Live Streaming television shows.  (I get it but I don’t want to watch TV with you–plus it’s illegal!)

4. Watching your kids play.

After using Periscope personally, I have found people will watch anything. I had over 90 viewers during an Easter Egg Hunt. I just had 49 viewers when I just live streamed our approaching bad weather. I will soon find out how many viewers will join me when I live stream the actual storm. I find if I live stream during normal work hours– viewership is low. The engagement with viewers ranges from actual conversation about what I am broadcasting to requests by a man asking if he could see me. The broadcast was about the storm–not me.  You can ignore the interaction or engage with the viewers. I like to answer all the legitimate questions. And, I love how people from all over the world can say hi.

Remember this the next time you want to live stream:  the more engaging you are and the more compelling the pictures–the more you will retain viewers. Not everyone will have both, but if it’s unique to the viewer–you will attract viewers. Retaining them is the hard part. People tend to peek in and duck out.

And, also remember, to have fun. Live streaming is about allowing people to peek into your world for a few minutes. Don’t be afraid to share your reality and an experience. Just be respectful.

What Problems I worry about:

Live streaming Cyberbullying.  I think back to the 2012 case of Tyler Clementi, a 18-year-old gay Rutger’s student, who committed suicide after being outed by his roommate. His roommate secretly used a webcam to record and post on the Internet Clementi and another man while in the privacy of Clementi’s dorm room. Now, live streaming from smart phones makes it harder for a victim to get relief from a person who thinks it’s their duty to shame another person for no reason.

Lost Privacy. As I said in a previous post— in today’s world–if a smart phone is present– do not expect privacy. As long as there is a smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc present– no one’s privacy is safe. No one’s.

Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1967 in The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects:

Electrical information devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance are causing a very serious dilemma between our claim to privacy and the community’s need to know.

The good news about Periscope and Meerkat is that the videos are not saved. Meerkat’s videos are gone after you stop broadcasting. Periscope saves your videos for 24 hours as well as allowing you a chance to download them to your phone.

Presidential Campaign Capabilities

My question is: Which Presidential candidate will use Periscope or Meerkat first–and HOW will they use this new access to the American voter?


1. Quick Answer and Question sessions while on the campaign bus.

2. Behind the scenes during rallies or campaign headquarters. Candidates and staff must remember a camera is on. People are always watching for people to misspeak.

3. Encouraging supporters to live stream speeches and/or participation volunteer efforts.

4. Special broadcasts about key issues–quick and simple dialogue with viewers.

4. If a candidate is touring a facility, take the voter along. Let voters see how candidates interact daily.

Brian Fung, writes in his article for The Washington Post:

Candidates will Periscope their campaign stops. Lawmakers will Periscope insta-statements from the Capitol. Even press conferences — actually, strike that. With Periscope, officials get to circumvent the press altogether. And that may be the biggest draw of all.

The 2008 election taught us all that the mass media is no longer the most important component to a Presidential campaign. A Presidential online campaign includes  thoughtful blog posts, announcements being directly texted or tweeted to the voter, and most importantly creating opportunities for supporters to volunteer with little effort other than to have a wifi connection.  Live streaming capabilities just upped the capabilities of the Presidential Campaign trail’s line to the American voter. Live streaming will be an interesting component in 2016.

McLuhan writes:

We have had to shift our stress of attention from action to reaction. We must know in advance the consequences of any policy or action, since the results are experienced without delay. Because of electric speed, we can no longer wait and see. George Washington once remarked, “We  haven’t heard from Benj. Franklin in Paris this year. We should write him a letter.”

As people start reacting to the  2016 Presidential Campaign candidates on Twitter and Facebook–these new live streaming venues will be a catalyst for political opinion mongers (Yes, I am predicting a lot of live streaming political rants during the 2016 Presidential Campaign). A word of caution: Remember to always question the credibility of the broadcaster as well as to remember to ask yourself before you live stream a harsh political opinion–is it worth it? Meaning–remember what you say online can come back to haunt you in the way of losing your job.

Overall, political candidates have a powerful media tool to bypass the media. I’m now waiting for the first politician to announce their Presidential run on Periscope or Meerkat.

I will be watching.


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