Periscope

Heard of Periscope? Maybe you have – it’s the latest whiz bang tool that all of the cool kids are talking about these days. Twitter released it for iOS in March (and subsequently released an Android version a couple of months later). Described as a “live video streaming platform,” Periscope is a low-to-no friction way for anybody with a smartphone to stream live video wherever they are.

9885733_origThink about that for a moment: it’s not recording video on your phone for later upload to Facebook. It’s not a one-to-one video call between you and another specific person. It’s you live broadcasting your life at that very moment for anybody out there to watch. It’s sort of a mobile version of Twitch.tv (gamers are probably the only ones who will get that reference).

I’d heard some oblique references to Periscope in some of the (too many) podcasts I listen to until last week when I finally decided to find out what this thing was. What it is is FUN.

The interface is very minimal and easy to pick up – my use case scenario was to simply look at the world map view, where you can see pinpoints showing where in the world people are currently broadcasting live Periscope feeds, and pick one. Within minutes, I was watching a video of a few construction guys taking a break in New York City, chatting with one another.

image1One of the interesting things about Periscope is that viewers can write comments to the broadcaster, who can read them and respond on the fly. I wrote something to the effect of “Hail NYC from Boston!” and, within a few moments, the broadcaster read it off (in his thick, Brooklyn accent) and his two other buddies chimed in, “Yah, Bashton – how ya doin’? Luv ya, brutha!”

A little later I stumbled on to a feed of a guy standing on a Cape Cod beach, giving an impromptu history lesson of the area – he’d pan around, talking about the significance of this beach, what life was like in the nearby town, etc. It was fascinating.

Now, to be sure, it can be a bit difficult to find feeds worth your time – for every NY construction worker, there were 10 feeds of young girls sitting in their rooms, saying absolutely nothing at all or just giggling and waiting for people to post “UR cute” and that sort of thing.

But, clearly, the people who will succeed at Periscope will be those who realize that they need to offer solid content to engage people.

Now, I’m off to look for feeds in countries where I can’t understand a word they’re saying…

Download Periscope for iOS or Android.

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