I’m really enjoying Periscope, the new app from Twitter that allows live broadcasts direct from your phone. It was launched very soon after its rival Meerkat and has, I think, better sharing and comment functionality.
Both apps, however, offer something utterly compelling — a live window into someone else’s world. In 5 minutes on Periscope, you can jump accross continents, watching forest fires in the Rockies, a sunset over the Pont Neuf in Paris, dinner with a family in Pakistan, or a toddler in Canberra learning to walk. Its magic, in the Arthur C Clarke sense.
With other forms of communication, the most fascinating developments come when the users push the platform in ways the developers had not anticipated. For example, the @ and # functionality in Twitter was something developed by the users and not by Twitter.
— robertsharp59 (@robertsharp59) April 14, 2015
My current obsession is the dynamic between different users of the service. How can the broadcasters with many followers interact with and give a voice to their viewers? How can they amplify the voices of those with less reach? Is Periscope anchored to the ‘one-to-many’ broadcast approach or can it take on aspects of the egalitarian ‘many-to-many’ approach found on Twitter?
I am eager to see how the use of Periscope evolves in this manner, and I’ve recorded a few modest broadcasts—or ‘scopes’—that raise these issues. For example, I hosted a game of noughts-and-crosses (tic-tac-toe) where two of the people watching became active participants in the game. I’ve broadcast a Periscope ‘vortex’ (a recursive Periscope of a periscope). And I also kicked off a ‘chain’ game: One Periscope broadcaster nominating another in a game of global tag. It went to at least 13 people over a couple of days, before I lost track of the thread.
Inspired by the chain game, I have a feature idea for Periscope: handover. What would be interesting and useful is the ability to handover a broadcast you started to another Periscope broadcaster. This would be similar to a TV news broadcast that cuts between two cameras—although its a different camera, the viewers are carried over and continue watching.
This would be very useful for several reasons. First, it would enable truly egalitarian conversations. Instead of just one broadcaster’s voice, the viewers/commeters can become the broadcaster themselves as part of the same conversation. Second, it would enable continuous coverage of a particular event even if one broadcaster can no longer continue to film (they may be experiencing a poor signal, or be running low on battery). If several people are present at the same event (for example, a civil rights march or a sports event ) then one broadcaster can hand over to another. This would give the viewers a different angle (political, artistic, or just literal/physical) on the event being streamed.
A handover function could work in two ways. Either, it would hand over complete control of the entire broadcast to the new broadcaster and wash their hands of it; or, the original ‘scoper’ could retain some kind of editor / anchorman functionality, choosing to cut away to other broadcasters but retaining control over the stream. Personally I prefer the first idea because there is no heirarchy involved. But those with lots of viewers and a particular agenda for their broadcasts would almost certainly prefer the latter approach.
Here’s a link to the Periscope broadcast I recorded today to discuss this. It is available to view for 24 hours after its published.
— robertsharp59 (@robertsharp59) April 17, 2015