Welcome to the ‘everyone is a broadcaster’ age

Meerkat is just the beginning.

fivetotry may1 meerkat

One of the themes that developed during South by Southwest this year (I'm a first time newbie, going back next year for sure) is that everyone has something to broadcast. The rise of apps like Meerkat and Periscope show that people want to do more than just share their posts on Twitter and link to YouTube.com videos. They really want to share their life experiences.

As with any “new” technology, there is always a history. Back in the late 90s, the idea of filming live events and having other people view the results became quite an interesting notion. It was also a proof-of-concept for the webcams we have on every laptop these days. Movies fawned all over the idea of life-blogging and persistent video feeds.

I used Meerkat while at was at SxSW several times. I bumped into the security detail for the Irish prime minister (literally -- the guy was almost 7-feet tall) and pulled out my iPhone 6 and started filming him. About 20 people logged in to view the broadcast. Later, when I attended a Jessica Alba session, I filmed the entire talk as a live stream. I never pointed the camera back at myself, but I wanted others to share the experiences in real-time.

Why is live broadcasting becoming a big trend? Just recently, Comcast announced the new Xfinity Share app would do pretty much the same thing as Periscope but send the feed to your home cable box. It could be a game-changer. It could also creep everyone out.

During the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight recently, people started streaming the match using their phones, which probably sent the promoters into hysterics. (The irony is that the people who watched the shaky cam videos might be the ones who pay next time.)

It’s easy to think a confluence of technical advances has brought us to this point. Everyone has a camera on their phone, most people have 4G LTE service, and the apps make it simple to tap a few options and start streaming. There’s barely any setup involved. But none of those reasons really explain why people want to be broadcasters. In fact, live-streaming broadcasts using an app like Ustream has been around forever. 4G is not new.

Here’s my take. We’re just getting bored of using Twitter and Facebook. How many text-based posts can you write about that awkward moment in chemistry class? The younger crowd tried Snapchat. There’s only so much you can do with a service that lets you send a self-destructing photo of yourself to someone with a pithy statement.

Personal broadcasting is a social net mindshift. We want social media to become a live (rhymes with hive) in-the-moment experience. We want “social” to be more social. We want technology to be more human. There’s a unique thrill in using Meerkat, and it has nothing to do with the tech. Live video streams are nothing new. Seeing one person, then another, then ten, then 100, join your broadcast is a new social experience. It’s a blast.

Watch this space as it grows into event broadcasting, social comments that everyone can see, pay structures for person broadcasts, celebrity live streams -- you name it. It’s coming. The personal broadcasting revolution is the big trend of 2015.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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