Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Will Streamouts Replace Webcasts

People have been using web site services such as Livestream and UStream to broadcast live video on the web for some time. YouTube has a similar capability in test with a very limited number of people. You may have seen some live web-casts by Michael Mozart who is one of the chosen few able to use it today.

I was recently introduced to live streaming technology by people I have met through my exploration of some of the  popular social networks. In a Google Hangout just the other day, for example, Bruce Garber a colleague from Boston started to capture the discussion and, through some digital wizardry, streamed the entire Hangout conversation to the web where anyone could listen and watch.

Of course, it has been possible to record and post video for replay on a variety of internet services, including the most popular of them all, YouTube. The statistics are staggering. According to a recent post, 48 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute and over 3 billion views are delivered every day.

But here we were delivering interaction to the web in real time. Combining Livestream with a Google Hangout produced a webcast of a conversation among this group of people located in cities around the world, including Boston, New York, Ft. Collins (CO), Kenilworth (UK), Brazil and Austria. No need for expensive video equipment, a broadcast studio, an army of technicians or special internet facilities. Each of us had an ordinary desktop computer with a web cam and broadband access to the internet. In fact, one person participated briefly using a 4G smart phone.

The possibilities are absolutely mind boggling. Producing the U_News show using Hangouts was impressive, but this allows virtually anyone to be the host of a live broadcast show. Most of the use of Hangouts has been as an adjunct to the live stream. For example, there have been a few "back stage" hangouts or hangouts giving viewers a behind the scenes look at production. This puts a limited number of "guests" in the same virtual room where they can interact with each other while the larger audience watches.

A few pioneers have introduced talent contests, game shows and other forms of entertainment in Hangouts while streaming it to the masses. But we are only at the very beginning of what is possible based on this combination of technologies. It's like television in the 1950's. No one could have imagined how far that has progressed, or where this new ability is likely to take us.

Live streaming Hangouts, or what I like to call Streamouts, will put a whole new spin on live broadcasting over the internet. Two way interaction is no longer confined to phone, text or chat windows. Now you can virtually walk in and fully participate in the event.

I envision this being used in politics, education and business. Imagine the virtual town hall meeting where groups of constituents can interact with the politician and each other. Talk shows can have a virtual couch full of guests from anywhere in the globe. Panel discussions can be orchestrated with thought leaders who never have to leave their homes. Corporations can conduct stockholder meetings and educators can hold tutoring sessions, all highly interactive in ways simply not possible before.

I'm sure I have only scratched the surface of this topic. Let's schedule a Google Hangout and brainstorm how this might work for you and your business.

Captain Joe

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