Share every moment as it happens with Periscope

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There is a weird phenomenon in technology where all too often an innovation doesn’t fully get its due until the second, third, or fourth iteration. Whether it’s filesharing, ecommerce, or online video so many revolutions are delayed. Currently the latest old technology-turned new is live video streaming with the mobile application Periscope.

Saturday, May 2 the sports world was entirely focused on the “fight of the century,” Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather. For $100 viewers could watch the boxing match via pay-per-view. Now maybe you think $100 to watch two idiots pound the snot out of each other is stupid, but for over three million Americans the price was right. But for thousands of others, it was $100 too high, that is to say while three million fools paid to watch the fight, 10,000 watched it every jab, uppercut, and haymaker for free on Periscope.

If the internet age has taught us anything, it’s why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free. Just as Napster ushered in the age of pirated music, YouTube gave the world a venue to upload virtually any video file in their possession, Periscope has delivered a means to webcast live any image their smartphone can capture. Livestreaming video to the internet has been around for years through services like Justin.TV, LiveStream, UStream, and Hangouts. The difference is services were primarily delivered through desktop computers, not mobile devices like Periscope.

Still Periscope is not the first mobile livestreaming service. Most notably Meerkat predates Periscope mobile broadcasting capability, but Periscope has two major advantages over its competitors; a mountain of publicity from the Pacquiao-Mayweather piracy headlines and a mid-March acquisition by Twitter. Since being acquired Periscope has rocketed to livestreaming prominence. Both Meerkat and Periscope boast having greater than 500,000, but public Twitter analytics show Periscope broadcasts are 10 times as popular on the social media platform.

Beyond being incorporated into the Twitter publicity machine, Periscope is exceptionally easy to fire up and start broadcasting. Currently only available on iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad, users login via their Twitter account and can begin broadcasting moments later. While Periscope is integrated with Twitter, the app is a social platform in its own right. Similar to YouTube, Periscope offers recommended and popular channels, lists of currently streaming feeds that fit your interests, subscribing to channels you enjoy, and the ability to internally comment or like a video stream, all without sharing your activity to your Twitter profile. Many of these features can be found on Meerkat as well, what really sets Periscope apart is the ability for private broadcasts and record broadcasts for user playback at on demand.

What are people broadcasting on Periscope? Well the high profile streams come from the legal gray areas. As big as the fight streams was for the app, the fight promoters didn’t think it was cool and have threatened legal action. Other sketchy streams include Periscopers broadcasting premium HBO’s Game of Thrones and major sports events like the NBA playoffs, something neither organization is too pleased with. So you’re considering Periscoping but don’t know what to broadcast? Well if you follow the lead of the average user then you should share anything and everything. If you were to search Twitter right now for Periscope links chances are you’d either be bored or titillated with users sharing everything from brushing their teeth to intimate moments that will quickly ruin your reputation. Welcome to the 21st century, where technology will erode every social moray imaginable. From over-priced entertainment to private bedroom entertainment every activity is a webcast away.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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