I like to keep up to date with new technology developments, and try to test out as many as I feasibly can. Lately my Twitter feed has been awash with people I follow sharing content via a new app called Periscope. Have you heard of Periscope? It’s a free app, available on both iOS and Android, which makes it really easy for you to share video from your phone as you record it – so called “live streaming”. As you broadcast people can tune in to watch, and they can even type messages to you which you can read and respond to through your video in real time.
There have been similar apps before; recently Meerkat seemed to be growing in popularity, and a few years ago there was a platform called Justin.tv which was used for live streaming as well. Justin.tv was closed down last year after the people behind it decided to concentrate on their other live streaming service, Twitch. However, Periscope seems to have caught on in a way those other platforms haven’t, certainly with the people I follow on Twitter at least.
Because I like trying new things I installed and downloaded the Periscope app. It’s straightforward enough. You go into it, give your stream a title, press the button and off you go – you’re broadcasting live on the Internet. As you broadcast you’ll see comments and “likes” (in the form of little hearts) appear as viewers interact with your video. Once you’ve finished, press the “end” button and you’re done. Your video will remain on the Periscope servers for others to view for 24 hours, and will then disappear.
I’ve had a quick dabble with Periscope. It was Mike Russell who first got me on screen when he interviewed me on Periscope at a recent UK Podcasters meetup. I subsequently tried broadcasting my own stream, but quickly came to the conclusion I’m not comfortable live streaming myself. The geekdaddy and I experimented live streaming ourselves recording our podcast, Parental Geekery, and I came to the conclusion that I was just profoundly uncomfortable with the whole thing, to the extent that I avoided recording at all.So we went back to closed recording, just him, me and two microphones. Whilst I can see a lot of people seem to be enjoying live streaming, I know it’s not for me. I did watch a few more Periscopes produced by other people before making the decision to delete the app completely, but there were several factors that influenced my ultimate decision to step away from the whole thing.
1. I want to watch at my convenience, not yours.
One of the great innovations of the modern internet for me has been the growth of “on demand” content. I never watch Live TV any more – with BBC iPlayer and Netflix at my disposal I can watch what I want whenever I want to. The geekdaddy and I watch an episode of something most evenings once the kids are in bed (at the moment we’re up to season 2 of The Good Wife). I’m the same with my audio listening – I would never listen to live radio, but choose instead to download a selection of podcasts and audiobooks to my phone so that when I’m commuting in my car I have a wealth of great content to entertain me. To me, video content which I can only watch for 24 hours after it was produced goes against all these great advances. And of course the main selling point of Periscope is the user interaction, which you only get if you’re watching live. At the moment most people I know are Periscoping (if that’s a word!) whenever they feel like it, meaning you get no warning of what is coming when, just a notification to say someone you follow has gone live.
2. Get to the point already!
I noticed a trend of people using Periscope who seem to just turn the camera on and waffle. They don’t seem to have planned what they are going to say in advance. Whilst that might be interesting to other people, I have limited time to watch or listen to anything, and I don’t like wasting that time waiting for someone to get to the point. I’m the same when listening to podcasts – I can’t be doing with long, waffly podcasts either.
3. Your user interaction is not interesting to me
I listen to a few podcasts that have live user interaction happening whilst they record, and I find that whenever the hosts start interacting with the audience the pace of the show slows down, and I get bored. I am seeing the same thing in Periscope. Watching a presenter have a conversation with people who can only type back makes the whole thing stilted and uninteresting. Whilst some people appreciate the chance to interact live with people through Periscope, again it’s not for me.
4. Is it legal?
This is a big consideration of mine. Shortly after Periscope became very popular I saw several people streaming complete sessions from a blogging conference that delegates had paid a lot of money to attend. Whilst I’m sure those who couldn’t afford the time or the money to attend were grateful to see what they’d missed, I found myself wondering what the organisers thought of their content being shared for all to see without buying a ticket. My friend Kerry Gorgone from the Baby Time podcast is an expert in Internet marking law in the United States, and she wrote a useful guide to the legal considerations of live streaming video, which everyone should read. This could be a real minefield, and is certainly something I think event organisers are going to have to consider their position on in the future.
5. What are Periscope doing with your content?
At the moment, Periscopes disappear after 24 hours. But Periscope is a free platform, and at some point it will need to monetise. There is a very interesting article by Chris Sacca, lead Twitter investor, where he suggests that a good monetisation strategy for Periscope would be to keep all broadcasts archived, and insert pre-roll video ads prior to any playback. So whilst your content may disappear after 24 hours currently, I think that might not be the case in the future, and Twitter (the owners of Periscope) may be looking to make money out of your historical recordings.
6. It’s not something I want my kids near
I can’t make a list of things I don’t like about Periscope without putting a warning out there for parents. This is not an app that I would be happy having either of my kids using. Once you’re broadcasting, you are public, and users can anonymously watch and message you. I think it’s only a matter of time before there’s a high profile case of cyber bullying or worse on this platform. As my kids grow older they get more interested in what I’m doing on my phone, and I wouldn’t want them to watch any Periscopes because I wouldn’t be able to check that either the content or the user comments were child friendly before they watched.
Those are the factors which made me decide that the best thing to do was step completely away from Periscope, and remove it from my phone. What about you? What are your thoughts on Periscope? Let me know in the comments below!