The Downside of Live Video Streaming

With the recent rise of Meerkat, Periscope and other live video apps, live is now live again.

A couple of weeks ago Apple hosted the Apple Watch event. You could watch the event on Apple’s online feed but if you wanted to watch the event live from different perspectives you tuned into Meerkat as it was 5 to 10 seconds faster than the Apple feed and you could get different vantage points.

Live video apps are transforming concerts, sporting events, and conferences. They give you unfiltered access to events occurring all over the world.

Right now we are enjoying the thrill of live streaming events without the typical delays and filters that we’ve had to deal with in the past. This is a huge breakthrough and it will continue to grow rapidly but I’m concerned about the downside of huge audiences having access to a truly live feeds.

When live is really live it means that we don’t just experience the good (Apple Watch Event, SXSW) but also the bad. It sets us up for things that we could never be prepared to witness.

How would our lives have changed if Meerkat had been available during the past 100 years? September 11th, the JFK assassination, the Boston Marathon bombings and many other worldwide events that have produced I-know-exactly-what-I-was doing-when-I-heard-the-news moments would be witnessed as if you were right there when they occurred. One minute you’re enjoying someone doing a video tour, shooting a sporting event, or witnessing a thrilling moment in history and the next you’re watching terror, fear, and disaster unfold.

How will you and so many others respond to these events when they are witnessed through a live stream without warning? What will our reaction be? How will our lives be impacted? Can we handle this psychologically?

Live video has opened Pandora’s box. In a year or two it won’t be unusual for thousands of people to be following the same live feed. For large events tens of thousands will join at a time.

Up until now, the number of witnesses to a tragedy had been contained to those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soon that will no longer be the case, as it will extend out to a much larger online audience. What will the ramifications of this be? Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to wait more than a couple of years to find out.

I love the direction of live streaming video as it opens a whole new world but with each step forward we have to be prepared for what’s hiding in the shadows.

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Founder of Duckwyn, a travel passport app for families to track which countries, U.S. states, major cities, and destinations they’ve visited. Share your travel.

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