Weekend reading: Latest reports on streaming video

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: I covered the Ride of Silence with Periscope earlier this week in Philadelphia.


In concert: Periscope takes you to the show

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: I dropped in on live performances by The Who in Philadelphia, The Pixies in Cleveland and Hanson in Oklahoma, all within a few minutes Sunday night — thanks to Periscope users.

Not so long ago, you might have been escorted from the arena, or at least had your wrist slapped, had you raised a camera during a concert. But the popularity of smartphones changed everything.

And thanks now to the popularity of live-streaming mobile video applications, many of those smartphone users are streaming those concerts live.

A recent article from myfoxny.com asks “Is mobile streaming theft?” But one expert they cited concedes that trying to shut it down is “like playing Whack-a-Mole.”

And Periscope founder Kayvon Beykpour told local10.com that attention to the pirated streams was overblown, adding that: “Generally, there’s way more media attention than there is a problem”

Singer-songwriter Neil Diamond even welcomed everyone watching on Periscope during a recent show, according to utsandiego.com.

And as I reported in an earlier post, Katy Perry says that when she sees phones: “that is the new applause.”

Want to learn more? The Wall Street Journal just published “Snapchat and Periscope: A Grown-Up’s Guide,” and Fortune has post on “How early adopters are using Meerkat and Periscope.”

How are you using them?


Simple test shows Twitter activity related to live mobile video apps

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: I set up several search columns for the test video below.

Does anybody else remember when Twitter was so new that it felt as if you could read almost every tweet?

Well, now you can sometimes catch just about every tweet related to Periscope, which appears to be the most active live streaming mobile video platform on Twitter, based on my casual observations and a little crude testing.

But volume isn’t everything, as many Periscope-related tweets are posted in other languages and thus not equally valuable to English speakers. While I have no simple method to quantify them, it appears as if a lot of the messages are appearing in Arabic and Turkish, perhaps followed by Italian, French and Spanish.

Back to my test: At around 9 a.m. EDT Friday, I created Tweetdeck search columns for “periscope live,” “meerkat live” and “stre.am live,” and captured the activity. The time-lapse video below shows 10 minutes of tweets compressed into 30 seconds.

This crude experiment is consistent with my past observations over time as well, but it may be most important to note that even the busiest stream is not so busy.

Of course, users can also broadcast without tweeting — at lease on Periscope — but I haven’t discovered a method to search or coherently monitor those streams.

You can set up the Periscope app to send push alerts to your phone when a stream appears from someone you follow, but that practice has had limited value for me because I have found that even the most active newsies still stream other activity.

I should note that some tweets with the necessary keywords but no accompanying video link can also creep into these searches, but the volume appears to be quantitatively insignificant.

Finally, here is one place to start searching, albeit crude: This search widget, checks for all tweets including “periscope,” “meerkat” and “stream.am,” but in safe mode, excluding sensitive content and profanity:


Tornados kill. Are streaming video viewers responsible for risks taken by live storm chasers?

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: One Periscope user streamed from a shelter, many were streaming while watching TV reports and one faker was rebroadcasting disaster movie footage as tornados swept across Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon.

It’s a new facet on an old question. Some have always wondered how audience response might shape the behavior of those reporting the news.

But now anyone delivering live news video can see the exact number of viewers, read their comments and see other feedback in real time.

So, isn’t it a solid presumption to make that some tornados chasers might get a little closer to the storm — or stay out a little longer before taking cover — when they know there are more viewers online?

And how much risk would they take if there were no viewers?

These questions came to mind as I watched live streaming Pericope reports from a series of tornadoes reported Wednesday afternoon in Oklahoma. At least a dozen homes were destroyed and a dozen people were injured, according to reports from the New York Times and Reuters.

I watched about a dozen storm chasers Wednesday and I captured frame grabs of their reports, but I didn’t learn anything. So, I haven’t included them here.

Taking personal risks also creates the possibility of draining emergency response resources during a crisis. And the expense of rescue and medical care can also become a burden on the public.

The traditional counter-arguments still apply. Americans enjoy freedom of the press and some reporters are defending the public’s right to know what’s happening. Perhaps learning more about tornados could help us learn how to better protect people.

So, I am not suggesting what anybody should do, except that viewers should consider the impact of their participation.

Many of the commenters I saw in the live streams clearly had the best intentions, telling those out in the elements: “Hey be careful!” “Hide!” or “You should take cover.”

Watching people putting themselves at risk left me feeling dirty and I tried to trick one user into a shelter by commenting that it would be more interesting to see the inside, but he didn’t take the bait.

Other commenters reacted more reflexively, with “OMG!,” “Wow!,” “SCREWED” or “That’s crazy!”

And some resorted to gallows humor, asking “Who are the next of kin we should contact?” or promising “$20 if you run around naked in the tornado.”

I have to agree strongly with media write Staci D. Kramer, who tweeted:

But I think I may have watching the same stream that prompted journalism student Nate Geary to tweet that he was “pretty sure I just witnessed two kids get sucked into a tornado live on periscope.”

I know I saw the signal drop from a car in which two young men seemed much too close to some severe weather.

And I am almost certain that I was watching the same video that led Breaking News founder Cory Bergman to tweet:

I thought at first that the video might be legitimate, and seeing someone so close to a twister made me feel physically ill. But then I discovered a ridiculous user name on the related Twitter account, with very few followers and nothing but a few spam tweets previously in the stream.

So, I continued searching:

I found many users streaming related news and weather reports from TVs in their living rooms. And I found behind-the-scenes studio streams from TV stations, with reporters standing in front of green screens.

I found one stream reportedly coming from inside a shelter at Oklahoma University. It looked legit but I didn’t stop to verify.

More than a few other streams came from what I might call “outposts;” with people pointing their phones out of windows of their homes, offices or hotel rooms.

And it was a tornado aftermath report that prompted me to create this site a few weeks ago.

Finally, I also noticed that a couple of storm chasing streams were featured at the top of the “Global” directory within the Periscope app — but I don’t know if that list is human-curated or driven by viewer counts.

In either case, people were putting those streams in the spotlight — including this viewer, but I don’t think I would do it again.

What do you think?


Journalists consider Periscope at Barcamp News Innovation

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: Screen grabs from my demonstration.

Journalists gathered at Temple University all day Saturday for Barcamp News Innovation, our region’s national one-day un-conference on the future of news.

As one of the organizers, I waited until all of the early attendees planned their sessions and then scheduled mine on “Periscope for Journalism” during the last remaining hour — which doesn’t always pull the biggest crowd at a voluntary conference on a Saturday afternoon in the spring.

Yet, I found myself leading a session with about a dozen in attendance, including journalists from The Associated Press, WHYY, Generoctiy.org and The Scranton Times-Tribune, as well as journalism professors, students and more.

A quick survey revealed that some participants had already been producing Periscope videos, others had been just watching, and a few more had just seen articles which left them thinking they needed to know more.

I scrolled though streamalism.org to share my experiences and talked about discovery, curation, sharing, saving, ethics, rights and the shortcomings of the nascent live mobile video movement. And I talked about developing a new workflow for live redistribution but I have some work to do before sharing much more.

I learned from others in the room about the challenges of multitasking and adding yet one more social media responsibility while on the job. And we talked about leaderboards inside the new apps, which obviously drive eyeballs, although I hadn’t been giving them much consideration.

Finally, I led a live Periscope demonstration, using my phone, laptop, Quicktime and a projector — to share the process on a big screen.

Shortly after I left, one of the attendees looped me in on a Twitter conversation about Facebook integration for Meerkat, another possible game-changer.

Below, @PhillyCodeHound Seth Goldstein caught preaching about Periscope:

@jimmacmillan at #bcni15 talking about live streaming.

A photo posted by Seth Goldstein (@phillycodehound) on


Weekend reading: Issues taking shape around live streaming video

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Thursday night Periscopes, left to right above: I watched a parade in New Zealand marking the the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign, checked out the view from the Philadelphia Police helicopter and watched as some guy chased wild turkeys around his yard.

The recent explosion in live streaming video emerged so quickly that you can still read almost every news media report, and I have organized many according to issue below.

Advertising and Marketing:
• Periscope Has More Repeat Users Than Meerkat – adweek.com
• Twitter Inc (TWTR) Periscope Service To Be A Major Ad Revenue Catalyst – bidnessetc.com
• Live-Stream Video Shows Big Potential For Content Marketers – mediapost.com
• Live Video Is The New Clickbait – TechCrunch

• 3 easy, enjoyable experiments CIOs could do with Meerkat or Periscope – itworldcanada.com
• Weekend Read: Do the Latest Live-Streaming Apps Make Sense for Business? – WSJ

• Meerkat Beats Twitter’s Periscope To Android Launch – ubergizmo.com
• Twitter Is Winning The Live Streaming Battle – techcrunch.com
• Periscope Trumps Arch-Rival Meerkat In Tweets – mediapost.com

Critical concerns:
• All the Ways That Your Livefeed Is a Lie – gizmodo.com
• Up Periscope! Twitter’s live-streaming app is exciting us, but here’s how it could be better – The Guardian
• Periscope is ALREADY on its way to becoming a parent’s worst nightmare – Daily Mail
• Students voice concerns about live video streaming apps – usatoday.com

• Periscope vs. Meerkat for Education – Work in Progress – Education Week

• How social media livestreams will impact political journalism – Columbia Journalism Review
• Periscoping Nano News: Fairfax County, Va., Live Streams Press Conference on Escapee – emergencymgmt.com

• Live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope pose legal risks – computerworld.com
•What Does Periscope’s Live Mobile Streaming Mean to Media? – huffingtonpost.com
• Periscope’s piracy problems: HBO issues takedown notices after Twitter’s app used to broadcast Game of Thrones – dailymail.co.uk
• NFL Broadcast Copyrights Threatened By Periscope, Meerkat – CBS New York

• New Periscope, Meerkat Apps Changing How You See Politics – abc6onyourside

• The 10 types of people you will see on Twitter’s Periscope – The Guardian
• 3 ways people are using Periscope app live-streaming – digitaljournal.com
• Meerkat, Periscope making live streaming ‘interesting again’ – cbc.ca
• What Periscope and Meerkat mean to our lives – livemint.com

• Periscope live streaming app raises new questions about privacy, citizen journalism – CBC News

• Up Periscope? Get ready for a new data overload – channel4.com
• How will we index and search live video streams? – ITProPortal.com

What will you be streaming this weekend? Please consider looping in @Streamalism when you tweet.