Lessons from the bike lane: Pedaling while Periscoping

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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: Moments from my Periscope tour of Philadelphia by bike show Segway riders along the Schuylkill River, the north portal of Philadelphia City Hall and the Rocky statue by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Over the weekend I relived one of my all-time favorite vacations as I watched a woman streaming live video on Periscope while bicycling around Paris. Much to my surprise, her voice was also very clear as she identified landmark after landmark.

So, I decided to try the same thing here in Philadelphia. And I learned a few lessons.

First, I went out and got a waterproof phone case — like this one — and mounted it to my handlebars.

Obviously, it would be tough enough — and probably irresponsible — to try to read incoming messages while riding.

But if you think about the way the phone needs to be installed for the camera to face forward, that leaves the screen pointing back at your seat, rather than up where you can read it anyway.

Understanding that people would log in at different times, I hollered frequent greetings and explained why I couldn’t read all of their messages.

From time to time, I would stop and look at the phone — first to make sure there were still viewers — but also to invite a few questions and respond before resuming my ride.

I took in a lot of our landmarks, including Philadelphia City Hall, the Thinker statue at the Rodin Museum and the Rocky statue by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I still don’t know the maximum duration of a Periscope video, but I kept this one streaming for nearly 45 minutes without interruption.

It did not seem as if many people noticed the gadgetry on my handlebars but I did get a lot of funny looks for narrating the ride out loud by myself.

When I got home, I watched the video on my Apple TV, using the copy which I had saved to the Camera Roll on my iPhone, because the online version evaporates in 24 hours.

Guessing that few of you would really care to watch me take such a long ride, I used Final Cut Pro to make this times-lapse version — sped up 20 times — and posted it to YouTube:

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Imagine texting your favorite performers while they play for you; or just do it now with Periscope

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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: Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose reads messages and waves goodbye after singing “Ain’t No Sunshine” for a small, spontaneous audience Tuesday night on Periscope.

For many years now, I have been plopping down on the couch at the end of my day and checking YouTube’s daily “Most Viewed” list on my Apple TV, just to see what made people click. I can’t begin to summarize the countless trends and discoveries, but at last I have found something much more interesting to do.

A couple of nights ago, I figured out how to enhance the experience of mobile streaming video consumption by mirroring my iPhone screen on the Apple TV device — which I have connected to a big screen and my home audio system.

I watched and listened as one Periscope user streamed Neil Diamond singing “Cracklin’ Rosie” during a live a concert — and it sounded terrific; even though I’m not much of a Neil Diamond fan.

I found another user streaming from a Fleetwood Mac arena show, but the house lights were up; so, it must have been streaming either too early or perhaps during intermission.

Then, I hit the jackpot. There was Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing into her phone — where about 100 of us were watching. Again, the sound was outstanding.

If you don’t know Pomplamoose, they’re not easy to define but it’s safe to call them exceptional innovators.

So, I simply texted what I was thinking: that I should not have been surprised to find her playing on this emerging platform. Mostly, I listened. And then I captured the frame grabs above just before she bailed.

This interactive experience felt like such a breakthrough — to text one of my favorite entertainers while she performed — that it made me wonder if this was how captivated TV viewers felt when they tuned in to Sing Along with Mitch 50 years ago.

Want more? One night later, I stumbled onto the stream from a guy who calls himself Marks Records as he rapped whatever anybody typed in the message window. Before I knew it, I had him rapping about my beautiful wife, our lazy housecat and my pitch that we all need to work together for peace.

I lost that link but found him doing it again yesterday. It’s quite an experience but definitely #NSFW.

I have also found myself attending sporting events through other people’s stream’s, often from the front rows. One guy streamed as Vin Scully read the lineups on the big screen at a Dodgers game. Other users took me to see NBA and NHL matches on recent nights.

The only problem is that you have to wade through a lot of baloney to find the good stuff, at least until somebody develops better search protocols. In terms of quality, this experience can feel more like surfing YouTube’s “Recently Added” queue rather than the “Most Viewed.”

Above all, streaming to the Apple TV left me wishing that I had my TV mounted vertically on the wall at home, and wondering how long it will be before mobile video production makes that the norm. Or, maybe we will have rotating screens? Time will tell.

Bottom line: Either I’m crazy or this is the biggest shift in social sharing in many, many years. What do you think?

Finally, randomly, this is still my favorite Pomplamoose video:

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Set up alerts to catch live streaming news 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: Breaking news reporter Tim Pamplin tweeted from @nightcam when he streamed video of this fire in Detroit Tuesday night. The view shown above demonstrsates how it looked on my laptop browser, after I followed a live link from Tweetdeck to Periscope.tv, but the archive view will work only if you are reading this post on a mobile device.

Periscope exploded onto the scene as a breaking news tool on the day it was released, when users turned their phones toward a disaster in New York City. But what about news that doesn’t take place so close to our global media epicenter?

I haven’t yet spotted one of those articles telling me which newsies to follow — as we have seen with other social media platforms — although I suspect we will be inundated with them sooner or later.

For now, I am setting up Tweetdeck columns on my laptop with search words including “Periscope” and “live,” while sometimes adding “police,” “fire” or “explosion,” for example.

Then, I open column-specific preferences by clicking the icon at the top, right corner of the new search column I just created.

Click on “Alerts” and “ “Popups,” which — you guessed it — will make alerts pop up on your laptop screen whenever somebody auto-tweets their Periscope videos and uses those keywords in the title.

The Periscope app automatically adds “Periscope’ and “live” to the tweet. However, if the user doesn’t title the report with useful search words — or if they don’t set up Periscope to tweet at all — we’re pretty much out of business, as far as I can tell.

(I had been also experimenting with “breaking news” as a search term but a lot of people joke about it, for example when their friends take out the trash or do the dishes.)

Here’s a mobile trick, albeit imprecise: If you find a user who streams breaking news, you can swipe right while watching on your phone and click to “follow” them on Periscope. Then, you can go into your iPhone Notifications and set it to alert you onscreen when those you follow are active.

But I have to admit that I don’t think these strategies will scale if the practice grows in popularity, as I suspect it will. So, let’s hope better tools come along — and soon!

I have spent less time with Meerkat and Stre.am, and the latter product doesn’t even use searchable titles, although they tell me they will in an upcoming release.

Meanwhile, please leave a comment below if you have others ideas for tracking live videos and I will share them in future posts.

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How I got the bug for live streaming news

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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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If you have ever been any sort of live news addict, you have to check out what’s been happening lately on Periscope and other live streaming video platforms.

I got the bug last week. While on a bus from Philadelphia to New York, I started surfing and found Chicago TV reporter Stacey Bacca covering the aftermath of the tornados in Rochelle, Illinois.

I felt like I was there.

(I grabbed the screenshots above by simultaneously clicking the home button and power button on my iPhone. They land in your “Camera Roll” folder.)

So far, I haven’t figured out a simple system to save and share links, but I’m working on it.

During the same trip, I watched a Mashable reporter trace the last steps of Walter Scott, the South Carolina man killed in a recent police shooting.

In fact, I surfed through so many news reports that I can’t remember them all. And Unfortunately, there’s no system to easily track your history.

Then, yesterday, the experience got even crazier. Reporter Brad Phenow was reporting on a house fire for his newspaper in Fairbault, Minnesota.

I was asking questions and he was answering — which is how it all works — but then I asked him to pinch his screen and zoom in on the scene.

And it happened! Wow.

You can watch the report here, but only on your phone. The link leaves you at a dead end on the desktop, simply telling you where to get the app.

In another post soon, I will address more problems with bookmarking, saving and sharing videos via Periscope and other apps.

And I am working on some partial solutions which I will also share soon.

Future reports will address additional complications, including authority, ethics, rights and more.

I’m also wondering if I should just deliver these reports on live video, if only to save the time I spend typing and proofing.

What do you think so far?

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Welcome to Streamalism

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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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Latest posts by Jim MacMillan (see all)

I’d have to be crazy to tell you that anything is the next big thing, but one signal has tickled me enough to launch this site.

When I share my enthusiasm for the recent outbreak of live crowdsourced mobile video streaming, I get a lot of sideways looks and disparaging comments.

And it reminds me of how I felt when I started working with Twitter for journalism, a little while ahead of some others.

As with all other social media content, journalists are going to have to figure out discovery, curation, authority, ownership, rights, legitimacy, terms of service, sharing, ethical dilemmas and much, much more.

But unlike much of anything we’ve seen before, the audience will be watching a great volume of crowdsourced news as it happens.

To begin, I am going to start working with Periscope, Meerkat, Stre.am, Ustream and Livestream, while catching up with live streaming developments on Youtube Live and perhaps everywhere else. Time will tell.

To get started, let’s think about this: With the new DJI Phantom 3, you can now stream live video footage from your drone to the internet:

If you use this link to buy yours from Amazon, you will also be supporting Streamalism.org at no additional cost.

Meanwhile, let’s get the conversation started.

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