Why Periscope and live video streaming is the the social media that really matters.

unidirectional and boring.  (Don’t believe me? Check out the Twitter feed of the Microsoft CEO, which has to hold the world record for the most canned and unoriginal content in the history of Twitter.) The problem with social media, as understood by the public relations departments of most major companies and social media ‘stars’ is that they aim rather low. They seek to have a “conversation” and then love to talk about how the conversation is leading to engagement, but “engagement” is a rather hollow concept and many traditional measurements of ‘engagement’ are as useless as ‘eyeballs’ as a metric. It may be a quantifiable (and billable) number, but does it really matter? Into this landscape comes Periscope and a host of other live video streaming services. Live, raw, unfiltered views of the world from ordinary people communicated out to waiting eyes and ears. With a motto of “See the world through someone else’s eyes” Periscope has millions of producers around the world sharing their slice of life to a waiting and eager audience. And while it, at times, has dropped in the banal and boring, there is something else going on that is worthy of note. Despite some feeble attempts to script and control the narrative of a live video stream by some broadcasters, the end users of live video actually have far more control over the conversation than most public relations professionals would ever allow. Discussions overlaying the presentation can go on tangents of their own, and users can often stray the conversation off the intended course and subject despite the best efforts of the broadcaster. The conversation can turn directions and spin and it takes a steadied broadcaster to keep it on focus and moving toward the real goal. It is this ebb and flow of conversation that offers the best opportunity for social media in its history. What should be sought, developed and fought for with this new medium is the true Holy Grail of social media. People should cast aside the one-sided conversations that are pointlessly supported by the hollow engagement metrics of likes and shares. With live streaming we have a chance to really communicate what is most important: Understanding. Understanding comes when you see the world through someone else’s eyes and UNDERSTAND why they see it a certain way. A person who watches a live video experiences the decision-making process of another person first hand and begins to UNDERSTAND why they turned this way or that, why they eat this or that, why they buy this or that. When a person is given the chance to see things live as they occur, and occasionally even take part in the decision-making process of that individual or guide a conversation a certain way, that person develops a much greater understanding of what is going on, and a greater respect for the other person. Periscope started with the voyeuristic view of the world:  “Look at this, I’m seeing a guy in Hong Kong ride the ferry to the toy store. He’s taking his morning hike in the clouds above the city.  He’s taking a tram to get some lunch.  Wow. This is amazing”.   But as time goes by and people start to think more about what they are seeing, a new, empathetic realization takes starts to take hold. “Yes, I am seeing a guy on a tall mountain, but he’s really just out for his morning walk. And he’s really just going to get some lunch.  Hey, I go for hikes, I eat lunch–wait a minute–this guy is a lot like me.” The empathetic instead of voyeuristic reading of “See the world through someone else’s eyes” is what offer the greatest potential for live video to rule social media. A person who listens and understands is someone who has learned something and may alter their own behavior to that in line with that understanding. A myriad of choices, from political decisions to simple mundane tasks can be altered when an understanding consumer of social media makes their own decisions with the views of another person in mind. It also leads to a tremendous marketing potential in that a person who understands why they should do something a certain way become a consumer who will perform that way without additional influencing. It’s one thing to have a conversation with a person and say to them “I really think you should buy this product” but it is something far greater, and more valuable, to have a person say “I understand why I should buy this product and will buy it myself, now and in the future.” Getting to this level creates a consumer FOR LIFE, not just for one transaction. While difficult to quantify, the empathetic consumption of live video can truly be the revolutionary social media development of the next decade. Or it might just end up as an updated version of Chatroulette… (more on that in my next post). IMG_4968      ]]>

Periscope Feature Wish List from @PenguinSix

Periscope. It is easily in the hundreds, as I have been making videos since the first day of the public release and now have over 31,000 followers. In using an app this thoroughly, I’ve come across a few features that would really enhance the experience from a broadcaster’s perspective. So without too much ado, here is my wish list for new features for Persicope: Time and Temperature. It seems so easy, possibly a throw back to the 1970s when every bank had a blinking time and temperature sign, but probably the most asked question I receive is “What is the Time” and “How it the weather?” A new update for the iOS app has added time to the map, but personally I’d prefer it on the main video, perhaps as a 10 second overlay every so many minutes.  Just a little time and temp ‘bug’ that pops up on screen or in the chat to save me having to be a weatherman and a clock every few minutes. Chat response presets I spend an inordinate amount of time re-answering the same questions day after day. “What do you do?” “How old are you?” “Why did you move there” etc. It’s gotten to the point that even some of my regular viewers can answer the questions should I not notice them. What would be really helpful would be five buttons on the side of my screen or appearing through a ‘long touch’ that would pump into the chat preset answers or statements from me to my community. If I could save short amount of text as a  preset answer I could just click ‘1-2-3-4-5’ and focus more on being alive and less on repeating myself. Pause the Phone Facebook Live has a new feature that Persicope needs. The ability to put a broadcast on ‘pause’ when someone calls in on the phone. It is absolutely frustrating when you have a good Periscope underway only to have a phone call come in and disrupt or disconnect the stream. A pause, perhaps with a little “telephone icon” appearing on the screen would be a wonderful addition. Scroll back of comments When comments are fast and furious, or when a broadcaster is walking down the street, it’s incredibly easy to ‘miss’ a comment as it has faded or passed from view before you had a chance to react. The ability to scroll back even only 5-10 seconds would be a welcome addition, as a broadcaster could go back and see a comment even after it has faded from the screen. A swish down over the chat to pull up the last few comments in a conversation would be quite helpful.   Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.08.11 AM Enhanced following options At present to follow someone on Periscope you’ve got to slide the screen to the left (1), tap the profile (2) and then hit the follow button (3). This three step process was designed to prevent accidental follows, but has had the effect of making new subscriptions difficult and even confusing to new users. Broadcasters have to explain several times through a broadcast how to become a follower. “If you would like to follow, please slide left (or up for Android), tap my profile, and then click the follow button”. Periscope should consider going back to the old solution, where following was a bit easier. But if not then the other solution is already present in Periscope’s system. An automatic “follow this broadcaster” message appears in the chat (far too early) when you start watching a new Periscope, but if it was able to appear and reappear on a periodic basis throughout the chat new followers could more easily subscribe to broadcasters they wish to follow. A user setting to enable the ‘follow me’ message to appear every 1-5-10 minutes would be easy to implement and would eliminate the need for broadcasters to “beg” for followers every so often IMG_1236   Analytics As Periscope grows into the professional world, the demand for detailed analytics will rise. How many users is great, but when are they watching, when are they turning off, how did they find my scope are all questions most other social media sites can offer their content creators. From a regular broadcaster perspective, some interesting additions would be something like “how many new people in the last five minutes”. I frequently do a broadcast that will hover around 100 people, but what surprises me is that very few of the 100 people at the end are the same 100 people that were there at the beginning.  People come in and out, thus requiring you to re-answer some simple questions, but you often don’t how many are new and how many are the ones who have stuck with you from the start.  Some sort of system where you could tell how many new watchers you have in a scope would be quite helpful. High Quality Upload I’m spoiled by 4k. Well not even 4k, but by 1080p at 60fps. The image quality of today’s phones is getting better and better, but due to the nature of live streaming of an HD signal is probably a monstrous bandwidth hog. Speak of hogs, here is a great example, I came across a breaking news story of a wild pig running amok through Central Hong Kong. The footage from my chase was used by the Guardian and the BBC, but unfortunately, the quality of the video was somewhat subpar vs. what I could have recorded in 1080p. [iframe src=”https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2016/jan/15/hong-kong-riot-police-capture-wild-boar-video” width=”560″ height=”315″ ] If there is the option for a high quality video upload after the broadcast had ended, this would be a great addition for Persicope to roll out, especially if Periscope migrates toward longer playback and storage of previous scopes. Note I’m not talking about a delayed update like we used to have with the app, but an upload of a full 1080p version of the Periscope (though I suspect this might prove a tremendous technical difficulty with one version of the video being saved at 1080p and another being streamed at a lower bit rate, all on the fly at the same time). Overlays Overlays have become part of the standard television and even Youtube broadcasting environment. The ability to display and rend graphics on the screen while broadcasting is now available in even the simplest free broadcast tools. Adding some functionality to have an overlay of an image or even a ticker would be something some broadcasters, especially the professional ones, would find quite helpful. after-effects-lower-third-templates-19 Edited Titles “See my lunch of noodles in Hong Kong” is an interesting title, but after starting a broadcast and getting a good crowd I generally don’t like to hang up on them as I leave the restaurant and go run my next errand. In fact broadcasts over 5 minutes rarely stay on the same topic as the original title. A Periscope starting on a mountain path could easily end up on a city sidewalk. A conversation about movies could change to politics. New users see a title and come expecting a noodle lunch or a conversation about movies and quickly get annoyed when they discovered the “missed that” part earlier. Giving the user the ability to keep his existing community and conversation ongoing without having to endure new users coming in expecting something else would improve the overall experience. And that’s enough for now….  ]]>

How to record a Periscope video with comments.

Periscope is a new app that is creating quite a bit of buzz and a great amount of content from users all over the world. Everything from views of Paris to views of a refrigerator in Turkey is fair game for the content creators around the world, but this content has a very short lifespan. 24 hours after any broadcast the videos are destroyed. You have the option of saving the video on your camera, but it doesn’t save the comments which leads to a video of you answering questions that the viewers did not see, creating a confusing commentary track. But with a simple free program already installed on your Mac, you can capture and record your Periscope videos with comments. All you need to do this is to plug your phone into your computer and follow these simple instructions. Step 1: Open Quicktime Player. Step 2: (If a file window opens, click ‘done’ first). Go up to FILE -> New Movie Recording Step 3: A new movie window opens. Click on the prompt next to the record button to get an option of input sources. You should see your iPhone listed both under Video and Audio.  Make sure those are selected. You should know this is working when you see your phone’s screen on your computer. Step 4: Open up the Periscope App on your phone and go into your profile to find your more recent broadcasts. Select the video you want and start playing. Step 5: Click the record button on Quicktime on your Mac and start making a screen capture of your movie as it is playing on your phone. Step 6: Finish and save and do with it what you will. Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.16.51 PM NOTE: I don’t know if this works on older model devices–I’ve only used it on an iPhone 6 but it should work on an iPhone 5 as well.]]>

My Cutting Cable TV guide

1) What kind of TV do you have? Most importantly, what type of connections do you have on the back of your TV.  For most of you, you will find any/some of the following:

  1. HDMI (best and most common on TVs < 5 years old)
  2. DVI (good and common on TVs <10 years old without HDMI)
  3. Component (Red/White/Yellow/Green/Blue. Common on HD tv’s)
  4. RCA (Red/White/Yellow, common on TV’s before HD)
  5. S-Video (Yellow circular plug, somewhat common on TV’s before HD)
  6. Coaxial / SCART (Basically standard on all TV’s in the last 25 years).
An HDMI connector will look like this:           A DVI connector and cord will look like this:   dvi_d_socket 111dvi dvi                 2) What are you going to connect to the TV? You have a wide range of devices you can connect to your TV.  First, and probably easiest, is an old computer that you might have lying around, such as a laptop you no longer need or a desktop. Find a place for it behind the television and connect it via the HDMI or DVI ports. Other options include what are known as “streaming devices”. Apple TV is an example of a streaming device, as is the Roku and Western Digital Live devices. These connect to your home network and then to the net to bring you content from all over the world. I personally prefer a Mac Mini as it gives me more options for content to watch. If you do opt for an old computer, you should consider buying a wireless keyboard and a mouse, or more preferably a trackpad. Why a trackpad? It looks better on your couch and it doesn’t get as thrown around / beat up as a mouse. And as strange as it sounds, there is a great deal of content that is “over the air” for free. You should consider attaching an antenna to your TV to pull in a number of free signals from the major networks, PBS, and the independent channels in your area. Because cable companies compress the quality of the HD signal over their lines, you may found that HD over the air is actually clearer than what you were getting with cable.  To see what signals you can get over the air, check out the broadcasters Antenna Web site and input your details.  3) What are you going to watch? This is where it gets fun, and this is also where you start to make a change in your viewing habits. With a standard TV, you can turn it on and just leave it running, flipping channels as you feel like it seeking out some content. But when you make the switch to Internet TV, you find yourself watching only “what you want to watch” rather than having television on as an ambient background noise. Sure you can put on a stream and have it run all day, but generally you’ll find yourself turning it on and off as needed. You can start by getting some sort of media management program. You can use iTunes to download and rent movie and TV shows, or you can look into some other media management tools like Plex or the open source XBMC. You can also use your web browser and look through sites like:
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Amazon Video
  • ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox
  • A&E, Discovery, History Channel, etc.
For live television, you can find streams on many of the websites for television stations, but you can also look at streaming specific apps like Livestation and LiveStream, but also sites like JustinTV and UStreamTV. There are also what are known as peer-to-peer streaming apps, some of which have content that is not copyright safe but still stuff you would like to watch.  PPTV and Sopcast are examples of these programs. 4) Going International There are literally dozens of channels from around the world that have streaming content available, such as the BBC iPlayer and the ABC (Australia) Player. However, many of these are geographically restricted to people who have an IP address in that country. To get around this, you need a VPN or DNS redirection service. While there are a few you can find for free, if you really want higher quality, you should consider paying for a service like Overplay.net.  This gives you a VPN to over 65 countries and can open up a whole world of content no matter where you are living. For example here in Hong Kong I’m streaming BBC 1 ‘Breakfast’ as I type this article.   Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 3.14.04 PM     Read more about my adventures with IPTV as a replacement for cable by searching here. http://penguinsix.com/?s=iptv Read about cutting cable and going fully online for your television.  ]]>

Thunderbirds are (no) go today.

Gerry Anderson, creator of the Thunderbirds, StingRay, Space 1999 and a bunch of other shows, passed away today. These British shows were slightly ahead of my time, but I caught them on endless re-runs on WGN Chicago as they aired every morning between the hours of 5:30-7:00. Why was I watching TV at those hours?  What else do you think paperboys do when wrapping and rubber-banding newspapers? The show will probably be remembered as much for the theme song as any specific episode.  I suspect I’ll be humming this most of the day. Rest in Peace Gerry Anderson, and F-A-B. ]]>

Original MTV VJ J.J. Jackson passed away

It happened quite awhile ago, actually. J.J. Jackson, one of the original three VJ’s on MTV, passed away about seven years ago from a heart attack.  I didn’t know but it is still very sad. MTV for me, like many of my age, was an eye-opening and world expanding experience.  Now it just sucks, as most anyone will tell you. But in case you want a bit of a flashback, here are the first ten minutes of MTV captured on Youtube. Watch it quickly before the dickless pinheads that run MTV today have their lawyers take it down. Rest in peace Triple J, and thanks for showing me there was more to music than that which I heard of my radio in a tiny corner of the world. ]]>

A high-tech homesickness cure.

Winscape which at first glance looks very successful, after all the demo video shows their home in the Marin Highlands overlooking the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  But a closer look reveals that these are mere windows overlooking some spectacular views, but a virtual window running on an HD TV. Through some high tech gimmicks you can have a window overlooking whatever part of the world you want. At the moment it is rather limited to HD playback, but the thought has crossed my mind of trying to do this with live HD webcams from different places. For example, I called up a webcam from Abbey Road in London and was just watching the morning traffic compete with Beatles fans who wanted to get their picture taken on the immortal crosswalk.     It does open up some interesting ideas.  A virtual window outside your “house” back “home” so you can see what’s going on in your neighborhood is now only a webcam and a bit of streaming kit away.  Watching the neighbors and your home just as if you were looking out the window. Might have to investigate this a bit further.      ]]>

The Killing and Spiral, my two new favorite cop shows.

Sprial, also known as Engrenages in France, is a sort of Law and Order meets the Wire.  It tells the story of vicious crimes, really heinous ones actually, from the perspective of the a special police unit investigating them, the prosecutor leading the investigation, and the French judiciary through the eyes of an “investigating magistrate” (which is sort of a cross between a judge and a prosecutor).  The series is in French and stars your standard screwed up cop who is partnered with an even more screwed up colleague, along with a ‘good cop’ who is their foil and friend trying to keep them on the straight and narrow.  

  The show is definitely worth watching.  The BBC is currently airing season 3 but seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD (Spiral – Series 1 and 2 Box Set [Region 2 U.K. Import] ).
 It’s in French with subtitles, but it doesn’t take away from the suspense.  It’s been likened to the Wire though it’s not as intricate nor does it involve as many characters, but the story lines are depressing and the definition of ‘good’ is not necessarily who is on the side of the law or opposed to it.  Also like the wire, you need the subtitles (in the Wire they often used street slang that made no sense to the millions of suburban white folks who watched the show).   The Killing is also on the BBC as part of their European crime fest but has also been picked up by AMC as a new show that is getting rave reviews (you can catch Season 1 of The Killings on iTtunes:  The Killing, Season 1 – The Killing) As I haven’t seen the US version I’ll focus on the Danish one, called Forbrydelsen (which literally means ‘the Crime’ I think), which tells the story in twenty episodes of twenty days in the investigation of a missing girl.  A female detective and her rather aggressive partner / replacement try to solve a complex murder as the story jumps between the victim, the police, the families involved and a local politician with a (tangential??) interest in the case. The American version is a similar story but with different possible suspects.  They’re only on episode 6 so I’m not entirely sure how it will end up. Anyway, if you can’t wait for the next Wallendar here are a few options to get you through the day. Now to go buy a book by Jo Nesbo new Norway writer who is the next “Stieg Larsson” so they claim.   [caption id="attachment_3472" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="DCI Sarah Lund, though you can't see her sweater."][/caption]   [caption id="attachment_3470" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Just thought this was an amazing scene as they pulled out the victim from the water."][/caption]   [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="The AMC remake"][/caption]    ]]>

Elisabeth Sladen, Sarah Jane Smith of Doctor Who fame, has passed away

My first doctor was the fourth doctor. Tom Baker, the curly haired long scarf wearing Doctor Who ate copious amounts of jelly babies candy, was the doctor when I started to watch Doctor Who.  His assistant was Sarah Jane Smith, and unfortunately today she passed away after a long battle with cancer. The character Sarah Jane Smith stretched across multiple doctors.  She was involved not only in the original series from the 70s, but also the resurrection of the show, and the eventual spinoff of the show into her own kids-based program called “The Sarah Jane Adventures“. She left behind a husband and a daughter.  The full obituary is running on the BBC’s website.  ]]>