Up Periscope?

imageI’ve been road testing the Periscope app. If you are on Twitter you will know it. If you have young/teenage kids then you ought to know of it and Facebookers…don’t tune out because it’s heading your way soon in a different guise.

Periscope is a Twitter app which enables you to video broadcast to the world LIVE, in real-time using just your device and wi-fi from wherever you are.

How does it work? Periscope when downloaded gets access to your camera and mic with your permission. You can choose to broadcast yourself turning the camera on you and inviting random anybodies to ‘talk’ to you and ask you about your life/interests. That’s what I found most teenage/young adults doing as I used the map in the app to scroll around the world and zoom in on live broadcasters (or ‘Scopers’) in dozens and dozens of countries to see how they were using it. I found that the vanity culture we live in sadly draws young and adults on to the app to expose their mostly mediocre lives to anyone who logs into their broadcast to interact with them if interested.

imageThe most interesting Scopes were where people were turning the camera on to scenes or events around them, rather than on themselves. In this way I was able to watch the recent London Marathon while out and about and not in front of a TV from the point of view of racers and fans rather than TV stations. Actually, I was in church at the time but as I’m sure my Pastors don’t read my crap I’m OK to reveal that. I toured the Old City of Jerusalem through the camera lens of some random tourist there and was able to comment with knowledge on what he was seeing as I know the place well and even direct him from my room in London as to where to turn his camera or guide his steps as to what he might find if he took a left or right turn from where he was.

How do you interact with Scopers? Well, when you log on to their broadcast they get a notification on their screen that @radiogeyser (my Twitter handle) is now watching. They can’t see or hear me. I can’t vocally communicate with them but I can see them or whatever their camera is viewing. I can message them a comment or question by text in the app which appears on their screen, which they can read and respond to vocally.

I thought long about whether to post this blog or not because I’m not a social media expert and I thought by now most people will know about Periscope – only they don’t seem to or are just not wanting to use/know how to use it. I know this by my many trawls around the live global map to find Live or dormant Scopers…and the map is surprisingly sparsely populated. So if this technology has been out a couple of years and it’s not taken off, why bother with it?

imageFacebook has already hinted it will introduce live citizen broadcasting in some form to its 1.65 billion active monthly users worldwide soon and the difference for me between Periscope and Facebook is that more people I’m closely connected with are on Facebook than Twitter. It will mean more to me if my more closely connected Facebookers watch any of my livecasts if I do any as it will if I see theirs – and if any of my close friends were about to livecast something, I would watch at least initially and then choose who to keep paying attention to. One thing I forgot to mention is that Periscope saves the most recent broadcasts of those you follow for review if you miss it live for a limited period. My Twitter followers are mostly anonymous people I know little about. My Facebook community is my inner circle and so livecasting in that context will have more relevance.

imageI like the potential of Periscope despite the vastly mundane, irritating and even dangerous nature of broadcasts I have seen. Let me just open this up for a sec. I randomly found a live Scoper in Sheffield, UK where I used to live. I logged in to his broadcast for that reason only to find a young guy ranting about gay people and advocating all sorts of harm, violence and death on them. I messaged him to stop. He didn’t. I warned him I would use the facility in the app to report his broadcast (which Periscope records) and he continued. I messaged him to say I had reported him and he continued. Finally, using the map facility I geolocated the street in Sheffield he was broadcasting from (but not the house number). I messaged up his street name and if I could have had the wits to screenshot the look on his face when he saw his street name come up I’d make it my screen saver. With an “OH SHIT!” He closed his broadcast down and I have no guilt at all thinking he probably had the first of a couple of sleepless nights.

imageScopes that draw me: Little is more and I stumbled across a French girl living in Nice, a place I love. She broadcasts in short bursts though the day. She has three goals: to show off her beautiful city, to engage with those whom she attracts and to teach them how to speak French. I am now in her daily morning class on Periscope with a link to her website I can visit if I want to deepen my learning but for now, I’m learning a bit of French every day with her and others in real-time on a beach in Nice. I give her my attention, though I’ve never seen her face because she has engaged me and I enjoy those few minutes of lovely views from a place I love while learning some French before getting out of bed to start my day.

Periscope may have a limited shelf life until Facebook or others unveil their rivals but the potential of citizen broadcasting, despite the pitfalls is an intriguing new prospect to communicate with the world around us. Like it or not, the digital space is the 21st Century market square.

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