Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Addictive World of Periscope

I've only been using Periscope for a couple of weeks now, two weeks actually, so I really don't have any standing to go spouting on about etiquette and rules and such. However, sometimes the freshest views are the most unbiased, and in the same vein that lack of experience has never stopped me from being opinionated before, I offer the following:

First. What is Periscope? It's a platform via iPhone App that lets you broadcast live video from your cell phone (think YouTube, except "live") to your followers and/or random people who have Twitter accounts. It's like having a "live TV truck" in your pocket, you know, the kind you see driving down the street with the big dish on top. Currently it's available via iPhone App and their blog says that an Android App is due soon, although a search of the Google Play Store turns up lots of 3rd party apps already on the market.

Second. Why? If you've ever seen a YouTube video and thought "that's kind of cool, I'd like to do one of those" but was turned off by all of the logistics involved then you might enjoy Periscope. It's like YouTube for amateurs, or lazy people in general, because it doesn't require any effort other than typing a subject line and pressing a button. Of course this means that while there is some entertaining stuff on Periscope there is also a lot of crap. Not that much different that YouTube actually. However, unlike YouTube, Periscope is instant, including real time comments from viewers. No recording, uploading, publishing or waiting.

Screen shot from "Moving a Mattress with a RAV4"

Who uses Periscope? Everyone. Besides random people doing random things (talking, shopping, feeding bunnies) it seems to be really popular with people in the broadcast industry. Lots of TV show personnel use it show "behind the scenes" type of things and while they are at it, let you know that the Ellen show is about to air at 3pm. How convenient. Mostly it's just average people all over the world sharing a couple of minutes of their daily lives. For example, last night I watched a family attempting to set up a tent in the dark while 25 other viewers offered useless advice and smart-assed comments. Reminds me of Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws. Just before that, I was tuned into Rene from A&E's "Storage Wars" as he stood by the side of the road answering questions about the show. He talked about who he likes, who he doesn't, behind the scenes drama, etc. I also learned that he is German and that accounted for his "accent", which I honestly thought was a speech impediment. Who knew?

Other things I have witnessed on Periscope are: a dad reading Dr. Suess to a sleepy toddler; two women grocery shopping in Mexico City; an African band playing in a night club in Tokyo; someone walking through the square in Venice; and more kittens, puppies, bunnies and turtles than you can imagine. Mostly the audiences are small, around 25 simultaneous viewers. Sometimes it can balloon up into the hundreds, but then any kind of meaningful dialogue (via comments and replies) is lost in the din.

"Was just watching "should my son eat a ladybug" on #Periscope and just as it starts to get real: connection lost.  Now I'll never know.." @mx4789

The best way to discover Periscope is to try it for yourself, and should you have the urge to broadcast your own little slice of life here are some things to consider:

Give your broadcast a meaningful subject line. "Big Ass Spider!" will get my attention, whereas "Heeyyy" won't. Unless of course heeyyy comes from sexxyAmber19, but we both know Amber is neither sexy nor 19. Likewise, I won't tune into any broadcast that is labeled "I'm back" or "hey peeps" or just a bunch of random icons/smiley faces. I will tune into see what "brunch in Milan" is all about though.

Numbers (of viewers) aren't everything, but they do mean something. Yesterday I clicked on the broadcast "cooking chicken fingers" simply because the guy had 100+ viewers and it turned out he was none other than Jason Nash, whom I've never heard of, but seems he is marginally "famous" on social media. Whereas I've also conversed with the Storage Wars guy and one of the actors on the TV show ER and they both had around 10 viewers online.

Engage your viewers. The most mundane things can be the most entertaining if you respond to comments - some of which are quite funny. Viewers will drop like flies if you broadcast a turtle eating lettuce without having a conversation with them, and it doesn't necessarily have to be about turtles. In fact, I can guarantee that within minutes, if not seconds, the conversation will be off topic, and that's what makes it spontaneous and entertaining.

I recently tuned into a broadcast by a young lady called "sandwiches" and the comments went something like this:

host: what is your favorite sandwich?
viewer1: where are the sandwiches?
host: well I don't actually have a sandwich at the moment
viewer2: we were promised sandwiches
viewer3: how tall are you?
host: um, five seven I guess?
viewer1: how tall is that in sandwiches?

You get the idea..

Tell me what you think of Periscope below. Have you tried it yet? If so, what was your first Periscope experience? (Mine was a guy in Central Park yelling out whatever obscenity you typed. I got him to yell "assclown" and "fucktard". He was getting some strange looks from passersby.)