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Why Live Video is So Cool

Why Live Video is So Cool

August 25, 2012 11:42 amComments are Disabled

People broadcast their Nintendo sessions. Their J├Ągermeister. A low angle on their TV set as they prop the phone up on their couch. Someone is broadcasting his daughter’s basketball game. And another is broadcasting her baby’s bathtime. I know this because as product manager for Broadcast for Friends I have the keys to the castle–that is, I can see the public broadcasts made by our users flicker across my screen and I can drop in on them from time to time.

What amazes me still is how cool most people–that is, people who don’t live in a world of technology–find what Ustream can do with live video. People laugh with delight when they find out they are live on air. People are happy to broadcast the most mundane details of their lives–one man has been broadcasting his hummingbird feeder for three hours–if only to reach obscure corners of the world. The magic is only compounded by the immediate sociability of the feed. It’s not only live, it’s on Facebook, and freely available to any one of your friends with an internet connection.

Why is live video so cool? What is it about the sharing of peoples’ lives half a world away in Germany or Korea so interesting? Surely we can do the same thing by turning on the television news. But the rawness of mobile broadcasts, the shaking of the phone, the looks on peoples’ faces when they find themselves on live TV at the whim of a consumer device–these experiences are brand new in the history of the universe. It’s not just the shareability of video, which itself has created its own niche market (think Viddy and SocialCam). It’s the fact that this video is live, realtime, untampered with. Seeing that “Live” label on the viewer confirms for the audience the video’s authenticity, and broadcasters, in turn, experience acute self-awareness at the immutability of their broadcast. “We are live on Facebook,” someone said. “Don’t screw it up!”

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