This week for Live Web, we learned about live streaming video online. I decided to check out UStream.tv, which makes it easy for anybody with a webcam and an internet connection to stream video content to the interwebs. UStream has lots of cool features, such as the ability for users to embed live streams on to any webpage. They also make use of “all the latest” social media technologies such as comments, chat, and Twitter feeds. Comments, chat and tweets are similar but also different. I haven’t figured out which is better for what though. It’s great that users are empowered to chat and give feedback now, but sometimes the signal to noise ratio is more noise than signal.
But maybe I’m just crabby today. UStream is definitely cool. I’ve seen singer-songwriter Jay Brannan perform a live stream from his living room with hundreds of fans watching and chatting. It’s like giving anybody with a webcam and a connection their very own public access cable channel.
In terms of other content on UStream, things are pretty hit-or-miss, but like YouTube or any other user-generated media site, different strokes for different folks. The long tail and all that jazz. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, or something like that.
I like looking at animals, at the zoo and on video, so I found this live alpaca stream and embedded it below. It’s as easy as embedding a Flickr photo or YouTube video, but it’s live (although no hot alpaca action as of the writing of this post).
Investigate existing internet radio stations and give an impression on your blog regarding their level of interactivity/audience engagement and so on.
The internet radio station I listen to most is NPR, which offers a combination of live streaming content, streamed content on demand, and downloadable MP3s of select programming. There is an NPR community page which serves up “community curated” content by displaying the most commented stories, most recommended stories, and most viewed stories. Users can give feedback about individual stories by commenting, recommending, and sharing the stories via social media platforms. Too bad there isn’t a kind of live feedback system where internet listeners can interact with shows in progress. I would be interesting to see some experiments where listeners could IM live with show hosts similar to call-in talk shows.
We learned how to set up a streaming server with Nicecast and how to embed streaming audio on a webpage (not currently prodcasting).
Right now, users can control their own slide show viewing experience locally, but I thought it might be cool if I an AJAX puppet master (me) could control the slide show and everybody else would see the same photos I am seeing. I’m not quite sure how to go about that. I’m thinking it might require reviewing my PHP and perhaps using a MySQL database rather than storing the photo slide show locally in the file.
Our first assignment in Live Web was to tell a story via a text based synchronous medium online. I was assigned to do it on IRC, which I had never used before. I told my story about an interesting experience I had in San Francisco over the summer.
I found a chat room with a name that looked innocent enough. But then I noticed the not-so-innocent screen names of those in the room.
Despite all the people in the chat room. Not much was going on, so I thought I would just start telling my story and see what would happen. I am “odietamo”:
I didn’t get a response for 15 minutes, and when I did, it was a one-word racial slur. I signed off soon after that. Not the most exciting introduction to the world of IRC. The chat room name seemed general enough, but I couldn’t really tell what the purpose of it was. I don’t think my story was particularly suited to the medium. I did not know anybody in the “audience,” and even in real life, it is the kind of story that I wouldn’t normally tell to strangers without a context. In real life, I would modify how I told the story (if I were to tell it at all) based on the reactions of the people I was telling it to. In this case, I got no meaningful feedback, so I was basically just broadcasting into the ether.