Posts about live


Here’s the first example I’ve seen of a witness broadcasting live from a news event with a mobile phone on Flixwagon. It’s very rough — extremely rough thanks to a finger on the lens! — but it’s just a glimpse of what we’re going to see more and more as witnesses are equipped to share what they experience in news.

How to get your antennae up

A while ago, I said that once witnesses can share what they see live to the world from wherever they are, one of the great challenges for news organizations will be finding this stuff as it happens. The challenge, I said, is keeping our antennae up.

Robin Hamman has been trying to answer the challenge with a Yahoo Pipes demo that looks for newsy keywords — e.g., explosion, evacuation — across many (pardon me) user-generated-content services (Flickr, Twitter, et al). Very clever. It doesn’t work terribly well right now. But the idea’s right. Next, he tried to take news stories from the BBC and match that with chatter online. Also clever, and it will surely generate after-the-fact coverage from witnesses. But it won’t solve the problem of live.

How do we solve that? I’m not sure. One answer is Digg and its ilk: thousands of editors telling you what’s hot right now. Another may be producers charged with combing the live world online to find interesting stuff (that won’t scale, though). Another may be sniffers that see clusters of links and traffic around spots online where live content may be (we don’t know what’s happening here, but the crowd is telling us that something is).

The next challenge, of course, is to figure out who’s legit. But first things first. We have to get our antennae up.


My blog is my network

Flixwagon, one of the companies offering the ability to broadcast live on the internet from your mobile phone, has added the feature I’ve been wanting: a widget-player you can put on your blog or web site so people there can catch your live broadcasts. Now, you have to put up a link to sites like Flixwagon’s and Qik’s and embed your video in your blog after it’s over.

Between this and Twitter, it begins to turn blogs live. Of course, we often live-blog events. But now we can also have a live flow of text and video from anywhere, anytime.

I’ve written about the challenges and opportunities live broadcast from anywhere brings to news. It’s also interesting to see the impact this will have on blogs. I can’t watch 10 bloggers at once. How can I know who’s live doing what where right now? It’s another need for live search — or call it live discovery. It makes me think I want an alert service — but then, the last thing I want is a bunch of those irritating tweets that tell me that so-and-so (you know who you are) is broadcasting live. I want context: the live TV Guide. But that’s hard, too: As I’m broadcasting, how can I tell you what I’m broadcasting? If someone else watches and alerts others to the fact that I actually have something interesting to say, then that’s necessarily syncopated; it’s not live.

All that aside, I’m glad to see Flixwagon’s widget and I look forward to seeing how YouTube handles live.

The challenge of live search

As the web turns live — with broadcasters streaming and with anyone carrying a mobile phone broadcasting — the next big challenge for search will be how we can find what’s going on while it’s going on. How can we search the live web?

I’ve written here before that witnesses sharing what they see via video from their mobile phones will change the essential architecture of news. No longer will CNN tell witnesses to send things to them that they then vet, package, and present to the world. When a Qik or Flixwagon user sees live news and broadcasts it on the web, it won’t be through CNN. CNN’s challenge will be to find it and its choice will be to link to it or embed it or not. That changes the role of a news organization in the ecology of news. It might even take them out of the flow of much of live news unless they can come up with systems to find and recommend what’s happening now.

Even when dealing with known, branded sources of live broadcast, there’s a challenge. I want to see whether anyone — TV or radio network or citizen armed with a Nokia — is going to broadcast Barack Obama’s speech about race from Philadelphia today. But I can’t find that.

Google is not prepared for the live web. Google values pages that grow links and clicks over time. It understands the permanent web. Of course, that is a protean thing, a growing brain. But it’s not live. Technorati likes to think that it gives us the live web but I’d say that instead it gives us the dynamic web, the latest static pages. It also doesn’t give us live.

How can you find and value live? Looking at links will make you too late. Traffic might tell you something — why are people swarming around this video stream? — but that, too, will be unreliable and probably too late. Brand won’t be a help because the witness will almost always see and share news before a reporter can get there.

Nobody would have had any reason to know that I was on the last PATH train into the World Trade Center on 9/11 but if I’d had the phone I had now, I would have been broadcasting the news from eye-level — not from rooftops three miles away — as it happened. How could you have known that?

There will need to be a new system where, Twitterlike, he who’s broadcasting live can alert the world about what he’s sending and others — audiences or armies of interns monitoring these feeds — help the good stuff bubble up and quickly.

If this doesn’t exist, the live web’s value will be as perishable as smoke. If it does exist, we’ll probably find what’s going on — what’s news — around the present news architecture. And then we’ll have to wonder how we vet and confirm that what we see is real.

Live changes everything — again.

* * *

Seconds after posting this, I see Dave Winer — who else? — at the start of such a structure of leading us to the live web. He Twittered: “I’m making an MP3 of Obama’s speech. I’ll publish it a few minutes after the speech is over, 15 minutes from now.”

The human satellite truck

Visionary network news photographer Jim Long is gleefully putting himself out of business. Well, actually, he’s expanding his own business, for network executives should be plugging into his brain. But he’s reducing the need for that gigantic camera he lugs all over the world. While in Africa traipsing after George Bush and company, Jim turned on his mobile phone and hooked it into and broadcast Sir Bob Geldof speaking. No big camera. No satellite uplink. No editing into packages. No b-roll. Just the news now.

But this is more than just broadcasting live from anywhere — that’s important enough. It’s also interactive: we can ask the correspondent to ask the subject questions: live lets us in on the conversation.

I’ve also been playing with Flixwagon, a Qik competitor that powered MTV’s Super Tuesday mobile coverage, and it’s dead easy: one click and you’re broadcasting. This is hugely changing.

: Also note from my friends at the Guardian that one of the paper’s still photographers won a Royal Television Society award for best international news. Repeat that: a newspaper photographer wins a TV award. TV’s not TV anymore.

(Disclosure: I write for the Guardian and consult for them and, also an award-winner at the RTS.)