Meerkat, Periscope and live-streaming chums: The future of storytelling?

The idea of meerkats and periscopes is, in principle, a good one – it would mean that one of the gang wouldn’t need to stand on a high point to check for potential dangers to its family and friends, instead relying on dependable optical design. However, unless humans were to introduce periscopes – and given the general lack of natural resources or the innate understanding of mirrors in the meerkat community – the ways of old will continue to dominate these animals’ natural habitats.

In the world of technology, it’s the opposite. Laboured half-baked jokes aside, apart from quickly drawing attention to that incredible link between the introduction and Stada Group’s business interests, we are of course talking about the Meerkat and Periscope services: live-streaming technologies that we’re starting to see a lot more of in 2016.

Both only hit the market last year and already, they’re taking many corners of the internet by storm. And while you’ll undoubtedly read plenty of “Meerkat vs Periscope” articles online, it’s not worth the hassle right now (we’ll get into that in the future) – so let’s take it down to brass tacks.

So, what’s the deal with Meerkat, Periscope and the probable glut of rivals that will arise to compete with them?

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What are they?

They’re live-streaming apps, giving you a window into something you otherwise wouldn’t have. Local newspapers are using them to cover events, such as council meetings, while others will happily adopt them like Twitch for the streaming of gaming exploits.

It allows for song requests, prompts on how to cut that onion you’re having trouble with because you went for rings and not cubes, or simply a good way of gauging a lot of people’s reactions on something you want to be funny, shocking, wise or otherwise. It’s like Twitter, but people aren’t waiting for a witty 20-word riposte after a load of responses: you’re live, so deal with it.

 What are they best used for?

Anything you want to see now. As we touched on just then, journalists in particular are happily using them to communicate live events in real time. Tomorrow’s TV stars (at least, that’s how they may see it – though who are we to judge?) are using it to run their own live TV programmes, whether it’s a how-to video or a more approachable format, such as cooking. On a level of “streaming as we know it”, musicians are performing music to far-flung fans from live gigs. Ultimately, its uses are pretty limitless.

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Why should you get on board?

Are you creative? Of course you are – everyone has a spark in them. Think about what you could do with this: live urban exploration where you don’t know where to go (let people guide you!), introducing a non-gamer to a game everyone loves, like Final Fantasy VII (let people guide you!), or hosting an event where you get hypnotised (don’t let people guide you!).

 

What are their drawbacks?

Well, people narrating your experience can be a pretty problematic issue. If you’ve been on the internet in the last few years, you’ll know there’s a pretty solid community of individuals that are there to crash the party with their unique brand of hilarity. If you’re serious about the technology, and if it’s to an open audience, you’ll probably need a thick skin.

In some ways, too, it’s much better for small, dedicated audiences – the ones who are willing you to do well, but are happy to challenge you. Our immediate favourite means of using this technology, not least because we’re happy to help out the local community by offering our own expertise, is in seminars or tutorials on technologies that people may not know. Thinking about selling to multiple clients, or a lot of people from different areas of the same business? Do it this way. It saves money and time on travel, everyone feels they have an equal voice, and you’re proving that you’re pretty forward-thinking.

One major drawback worth mentioning, however, is that they only film in portrait. It’s also occasionally shaky depending on the strength of the Wi-Fi or 4G connection, but if you’re serious about using it, chances are that you’ve invested in your internet.

Should you give it a go?

Go forth and enjoy it, even on a test basis. We think that anything this enjoyable – in principle, at least – is worth a bash. Let us know how you’ve got on, by all means – we’re here to hear how you’re doing!

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