Periscope and the rise of live streaming

Live streaming isn’t new, but since the launch of Meerkat and then Periscope it has suddenly become the big talking point in social media.

I’ve had the Periscope app for about a week. It is far from perfect, and I’m sure there will be several iterations over the coming months.

Think twice before live streaming

Periscope’s simple point-and-stream interface partly explains why live streaming has suddenly taken off.  However, if we are going to live stream more, we need to be a little more circumspect about when we do so. Particularly as Periscope sends an alert any time someone you follow starts a new live stream.

I was never that bothered about seeing a photo of your meal. I certainly don’t want to watch you eating it.

I haven’t broadcast anything on Periscope yet. Being able to do a thing doesn’t automatically make that thing interesting.

Then there are the ethics of when to live stream, and whether we should be watching. There are times when logic and compassion should override the individual’s desire for a dopamine rush.

The vertical vice

Periscope currently only works in portrait mode. Until recently I felt strongly that shooting vertical video was a heinous act. Our eyes are side by side and we see the world in landscape. TV and film is always widescreen, so our own videos should be too. However, I am softening my stance on this.

Most people use Periscope, Meerkat or Snapchat on a phone, held vertically in one hand. Like books, whose pages have always been laid out vertically.  So I can see why these apps have been designed with portrait use in mind, and maybe there is a place for vertical video after all.

But landscape videos will surely continue to be the most versatile and the default in most cases. So Periscope must, at the very least, provide the option to broadcast in landscape. Or as John Popham suggests,  maybe we will evolve to have one eye above the other.

Live streaming for work and play

Several local authorities already live stream Council meetings using other already-established streaming services. But I’ve been thinking about how we might be able to take advantage of the simplicity and immediacy of Periscope.  Some of my initial ideas include streaming events at libraries and festivals and responding to emergencies. It’s worth reading Matt Murray’s  thoughts on Periscope in which he lists a few ideas of his own.

I’m also wondering how bands could make use of Periscope. Perhaps Wilful Missing could do a live talk through and Q&A for our next album, or live stream the album launch gig.  If we were to do that though, I think a YouTube live event would be more appropriate.

Have you got any thoughts or ideas about Periscope or other live streaming services? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me.


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I am a digital communications and marketing officer for Bradford Council and a musician.

10 thoughts on “Periscope and the rise of live streaming”

  1. Thanks for the reference, Albert, here is another (landscape) video where I expand my thoughts a bit more

    Personally I think we should educate people to turn their phones sideways to experience video in a much better format. I do actually see people watching landscape videos with their phone held upright so the video plays in a narrow window across the centre of the screen. What kind of an experience is that?

    We only hold our phones in portrait as a legacy from when they were dumb phones with little more than a keypad. I can’t see people accepting cinema screens that are 30 foot high and 10 feet wide, so why do it on a phone?

    1. Good points, John. Yes, I’ve known people to watch landscape videos with their phone held upright too. You are right, that’s not much of an experience at all.

  2. I’ve been chatting with a few other local gov comms people about the possibilities of using Periscope to broadcast election declarations for Parliamentary and Local elections on 7 May – thoughts are that it would be a quick and easy way to broadcast allowing someone to just point and shoot with a phone at the count. Nice way for people to see/hear results live or as near to live as possible – especially if a postal/proxy/overseas voter who may not be in the regional broadcast area. Also, very few local count results are broadcast at all nowadays, especially when the General Election is in town. Other streaming services are, of course, available but my experience with them is limited at the moment – a learning curve I need to get on.

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