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:


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There’s something happening here: Periscope in play during #FreddieGray protests in Baltimore

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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: Periscope users @dmitrisobol, @thefancyfriend and @alexandrafox5dc streamed live from the #FreddieGray demonstrations Saturday in Baltimore.

Large crowds marched through Baltimore on Saturday in protest following the case of Freddie Gray, who died earlier this month while in police custody. A handful of those present shared live video throughout the day using Pericope, a one of several popular new live-streaming applications.

“A day of mostly peaceful rallies to protest the death of Freddie Gray turned confrontational as dark fell over Baltimore on Saturday with demonstrators smashing the windows on police cars, blocking traffic near the Inner Harbor and shouting, “Killers!” at officers dressed in riot gear,” according to the Baltimore Sun, which continued: “The protest was the largest of daily gatherings in the week since Gray died. The 25-year-old had sustained spinal cord injuries while in police custody following his arrest April 12 near Gilmor Homes in West Baltimore.”

Periscope does not enable simple searching, sharing or saving — like Twitter or most or social media platforms — and user settings can make it even more difficult to find content. But there are solutions for discovering and curating user-generated reports.

Twitter’s Advanced Search page is a good place to start, where by adding “Periscope,” “live” and “Baltimore” in the “All of these words” field, you can see all of the related tweets.

(Working with the “Dates” and “Places” fields has not been yielding good results when searching for Periscope videos.)

When you get to the “Results” page, click the tiny “All” text-link near the top of the page to see a complete list.

You could also try replacing “Baltimore” with “FreddieGray” to see additional results, although tweets using both terms will appear in both sets of results.

However, this process is helpful only when Periscope users select the option to share a tweet before they “Start Broadcast” on a new stream.

Another effective method for tracking tweeted streams involves setting up search columns while using Twitter’s Tweetdeck desktop application, which Apple users can find in the App Store.

Then, you can set Tweetdeck to alert you with sounds and/or on-screen alerts when a tweet matches your search terms.

Archived videos from other users can be viewed only when using mobile devices — and only for 24 hours — but even under those conditions, some video pages inexplicably lack play buttons, rendering them useless except for confirming that the videos were streamed earlier.

In their haste to get rolling, it also seems as if many users fail to plant good search words in their titles, making them very difficult to locate. But if I spot a user share one video from an event, I then check their Twitter streams for additional live video links.

And some users continue to insist on shooting video horizontally, causing a little more confusion.

When you see what appears to be a cut between shots, the user has toggled from one camera to the other, either forward-facing or facing back at the user.

Periscope was clearly the app of choice this weekend in Baltimore. I spotted only one stream tagged #FreddieGray while searching Twitter for links to Meerket videos, but that screen showed only a view of the user’s TV as he watched news reports at home.

In every case, finding, saving and sharing live-streaming video has been much more labor intensive, and requires much more time and attention than other social media platforms.

But the effort can also lead to an important new layer of user-generated content.

We’re also going to need to get used to explaining those hearts on the Periscope screen when we copy the videos to other media.

Below: This video includes excepts from Saturday’s #FreedieGray demonstrations in Baltimore from users..

@dmitrosobol – an MBA, business strategist and “truth seeker” from Delaware,

@AlexandraFox5DC – a television reporter from Washington, and..

@TheFancyFriend – a fashion and lifestyle blogger from New York:

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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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Latest posts by Jim MacMillan (see all)

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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