Some Quick Thoughts On Periscope, Meerkat And The Era of Simple Livestreaming

Periscope 1Unless you've been offline or ignoring social media for the past couple of weeks you've no doubt seen the dueling "livestreaming wars" between the iOS applications Meerkat and Periscope. Perhaps you've viewed some of the streams... or broadcast some yourself.

Given that I do live streaming as part of my employment, I'm fascinated by these new and emerging apps. They also remind me of what Qik tried to do back in the mid-2000s before Skype bought Qik in 2011 and promptly shut the service down. (Only to have Qik re-emerge recently as a different kind of mobile messaging service from Skype.)

I've been playing with both Meerkat and Periscope and offer a few quick thoughts based on my own experience. I will be exploring these apps more... but want to record some comments for today's For Immediate Release podcast episode and want to use this post as a basis for that report.

The beauty of both of these apps is that it makes it absolutely TRIVIAL for someone to start live streaming. Just login with Twitter and press the a button to start broadcasting live to the world!!!

Here are some thoughts about both apps and then some thoughts on this larger new era of simple live streaming.

Periscope

Periscope was purchased by Twitter and apparently had the app in development for quite some time. Things I like:

  • Polished user interface.
  • The "hearts" that you can give to "like" something are fun.
  • The replay capability is useful... although it seems the stored videos are only available for something like 24 hours.

Things I am not as excited about:

  • The comments appear and then disappear... and there seems to be no way I could find to go back and see them again, without replaying the video. Given that in a couple of trials I was driving with my iPhone on my dashboard, I could NOT read the comments while driving.
  • No horizontal orientation... you have to hold the phone in a vertical orientation. Yes, you can turn the phone sideways and hold it horizontally, but all the comments and hearts still come in the vertical orientation.
  • Several people viewing my live streams indicated they had connection issues.

Meerkat

Meerkat was out before Periscope and captured a great amount of attention at SXSW and recent conferences. Things I like:

  • Comments are scrollable within the stream. You can read them later (during the time of the stream).
  • You can hold the camera horizontally.
  • Comments can be out onto Twitter.
  • You can answer comments by text within the app (although is this really important? I'm not sure).
  • So far no connection issues for me... but I've seen others have issues.

Things I am not as excited about:

  • Comments are gone after the stream.
  • No replay capability.

Changing Our Expectation Around Privacy

I think there is a larger societal question we need to be thinking about - that person walking down the street holding a phone up can be streaming everything they see live out onto the public Internet?

Intellectual Property

To that point... there are a whole host of intellectual property issues that I think we as a society will need to address. Nothing whatsoever technically prevents someone from streaming a concert or any presentation live. There are many artists and speakers who charge for their events and don't want them live streamed.

Cost

People in the mobile telecommunications companies have to be loving this - here are ways that people will generate a great amount of mobile data very quickly! Unless people have "unlimited" telecom data plans, they are going to be running up some good-sized costs. Great for the telcos... not so great for the producers. However, any event with "free" WiFi around could easily attract a good number of streams.

Bandwidth

All of these live video streams will create some interesting additional pressures on the Internet's infrastructure. Particularly in situations where there is "asymmetrical" connections, i.e. you have a faster download than upload speed. The streaming out of events could create a much larger requirement for upload speeds than there has been before.

Digital Divide

All of which feeds into a question about the "digital divide". The Internet users who are in regions with good Internet connectivity will be both able to produce/broadcast and also able to consume all these live streams. What about people in other parts of the world where bandwidth is much more limited? How will they be able to participate in this new era of live streaming?

Similarly, these Periscope and Meerket apps are right now only available on Apple's iOS platform... what if you can't afford an iPhone?

Ephemeral Moments and FOMO

One of the interesting elements of Meerkat is that once the stream is gone... it's gone. It's ephemeral like Snapchat... it's there... it's gone. You have to be there to see it and participate.

This leads to the "Fear Of Missing Out" (FOMO) and the "need" to be part of that.

Periscope allows replays, which changes it a bit. Now it's a recording available for some time. I'm not sure which is better.

[Side note: I don't know how truly "ephemeral" either Meerkat or Periscope is... the streams have to go through some server out there and the server could easily record any and all streams.]

Rich Interaction

What I did find very cool about using both Periscope and Meerkat was the rich interaction I could have with the audience. They were able to leave comments that I could react to right within the stream itself. They were able to guide the conversation... asking questions that I then answered.

In several cases friends I knew joined into my live streams. In one case this meant I switched to speaking German because I knew a German friend was watching. In another I switched the camera to view myself so that a friend I hadn't seen in a few years could see what I look like today.

It was great in so many ways to have this rich interaction during a stream. I'm looking forward to trying this out in some events in the future.

Final Thoughts...

... I'm very intrigued by these new applications. They make live streaming so incredibly simple and easy for anyone to do. I think we do have some of these larger societal issues and conventions to think through... but our era of ubiquitous live streaming is definitely upon us.

I see great potential for these apps in live streaming of events... for citizen journalism... breaking news... bearing witness to unfolding events... marketing/webinar types of events... indie musicians and artists... tutorials...

The reality of course is that we'll also see a lot of incredibly mundane and boring live streams. We'll probably see a good deal of porn. We'll see other ways to abuse live streams that will appall us. That's what always happens with any new service.

I will continue testing the apps. I want to see what else they can do. I want to explore more of the technical aspects - things such as their actual bandwidth usage. I want to know if any of them work over IPv6. (Sadly, expecting them NOT to do so.) I want to understand how secure they are.

So I'll be writing more... as I have time to do so.

Meanwhile, these are just some initial thoughts.

What do you think? Are you experimenting with either Periscope or Meerkat? Or some other similar app?

P.S. See also "Periscope and live video are changing the internet forever", a good take on how these apps are already changing live news...


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The Live Video Streaming Nightmare: What Do You Do When YouTube Won't Start? (And Lessons Learned)

What do you do if you go to start live video streaming of an event - and the streaming service you use won't start??? How do let people waiting to watch know? How do you fall back to another service?

Last month at the IETF 90 meeting in Toronto I experienced this nightmare of anyone doing live video streaming across the Internet. We had a presentation at noon on Thursday that we had widely publicized in social media and via email. The cameras were all set up. The producer was all ready to do the switching and encoding out to YouTube. Everything was good to go.

Then at 11:45am, I went to do my part in the process. I needed to login to the IETF YouTube account and basically click the "Start Streaming" button inside the "live event". At that point the YouTube servers would accept the encoded stream from the producer's gear and the stream would go live.

BUT... instead I got this message in a bright red bar across the top:

Ytl maintenance 500 The message read:

YouTube live is undergoing maintenance. Events cannot be created, started or stopped. Events already started will continue to stream uninterrupted.

Yes... we had no way to START the live video stream!

Over the next few minutes I kept refreshing that page but the warning stayed up there. I was getting rather nervous as the launch time approached!

Now, as it happened, we had already planned to have a second live video steam going out for the event through a different service, Livestream.com, for a different reason.

Why The IETF Uses YouTube For Live Video Streaming

To explain a bit more, we have been using Google's YouTube live video streaming for some of the larger IETF plenary sessions for five reasons:

1. The live video stream is available over both IPv4 and IPv6.

2. The stream works easily across pretty much all desktop and mobile devices.

3. Google's live streaming infrastructure seems able to scale to whatever capacity is needed.

4. The recording of the stream is immediately available after the event in the IETF's YouTube channel.

5. There is no cost for using the service beyond our local costs to produce the content (and no infrastructure that the IETF itself has to maintain).

Of these, really the most critical reason for using YouTube live streaming is the first - that it streams out over IPv6.

The IETF is the organization behind the IPv6 specification and has declared that all new IETF standards need to incorporate IPv6. Therefore in the spirit of "eating your own dog food" the IETF tries to use services that work over IPv6 whenever possible. Other live video streaming services have met the reasons 2-5 above, but not the #1 reason of working over IPv6.

We have specifically been using what Google used to call "YouTube Live" but now seems to just be calling "YouTube live events" versus Google's newer "Hangouts On Air (HOA)". These YouTube live events are events you schedule in advance and can use with advanced video encoders. An advantage is that these events provide streaming configuration info that I can provide in advance to the company running the audio and video at the event so that they can be prepared in advance. YouTube also helpfully provides a countdown timer for people visiting the event page. We haven't switched to using HOAs because they haven't yet provided the advance configuration information we want.

Anyway it has all worked well for live streaming out plenary sessions for a couple of years now.

Google Doesn't Live Stream Into Germany

However, as we discovered again that week.... Google will not stream live video into Germany! It seems Google has a legal dispute with a German intellectual property rights organization (GEMA) and Google has decided that rather than run into trouble with GEMA they will simply NOT allow live streaming into Germany.

So, alerted to this issue by some IETF remote participants in Germany who were unable to watch the live video streams of the technical plenary earlier in the week, we had arranged to also stream this Thursday session out over the Internet Society's Livestream.com account. Now, unfortunately it would not be available over IPv6 because Livestream.com still only works on legacy IPv4 networks, but Livestream.com did not have the streaming restrictions Google had and so at least people could view the stream in Germany. As a bonus, all the "subscribers" to the Internet Society's Livestream.com channel would also get notified and potentially be able to watch the stream - but the primary reason was so that people in Germany could watch the video stream.

The great thing about IETF meetings is that a massive amount of Internet connectivity is brought into the meeting hotel (because you have 1,200+ engineers who do most of their work across the Internet!) and so there are NO bandwidth problems for streaming. We could probably stream out to a dozen different live streaming services simultaneously if we set up our local software/equipment to do so.

Making The Alternate Stream The Primary Stream

The good news for us was that this "alternative" live video stream set up purely for viewers in Germany could now become the primary video stream. I rapidly updated the Google+ "event page" for this session to note the new URL for streaming and we spread the word through IETF social media channels and email lists. It wasn't 100% seamless but we were able to get people watching the live video stream.

We were also able to direct people to some of the other IETF remote meeting participation mechanisms, including audio streaming and a conferencing system called "Meetecho" that streamed the slides and lower webcam-quality video.

Throughout the hour-long event I kept checking the Live Control Room inside of YouTube to see if we could start the original stream, but we were never able to do so. A couple of times the red warning box went away, but we could not establish a connection from YouTube's streaming service to our equipment on the ground there in Toronto. Finally, as the time went on it became clear that the connection wasn't going to happen and so I just gave up trying.

The good news is that the producer was also making a local copy of the stream that we would be able to upload later to the IETF's YouTube channel.

Lessons Learned

I took away from this experience three primary lessons for all future live streaming sessions. Do note, too, that I think of these as generic lessons for all live streaming services and events. It happens that this time the failure was with Google's YouTube live events service, but the failure could have been with Livestream.com, Google's Hangouts On Air, Ustream or any of the many other live video streaming services out there.

1. Always Promote An Event Page Separate From The Streaming Service

We were able to rapidly redirect people to the new location of the live video stream in large part because we had been promoting the Google+ event page as the place to go to watch the live stream. We had promoted this on the IETF's Twitter account, Facebook page, Google+ page and also over various IETF email lists and on various other websites. All the promotion pointed people to this page.

So the good news was that all we had to do was update this page with the new info and people could switch over to watch the new stream.

We had NOT been promoting the direct YouTube link for the stream. Had we done so, we could have still updated the page through editing the description of the YouTube video and/or leaving comments - but it would not have necessarily been as easy for visitors to see.

Promoting a separate page was a deliberate choice I made based on some previous bad experiences with live streaming where I had to stop a streaming session and restart with a brand new URL. For that reason I've been promoting a separate page.

In fact, for the IETF Plenary sessions, we've been promoting a separate page under IETF control on the IETF website - http://www.ietf.org/live/ - where we can embed the live stream video and also keep the page updated. At the IETF meeting it is possible for me or someone else to easily go in and update that page. Plus it is a very simple URL that we can promote widely.

I don't honestly remember why we didn't use the www.ietf.org/live/ page to stream out this Thursday morning sponsor presentation other than that the decision to live stream the session happened the day before and for whatever reason we went with a Google+ Event page as the page to promote.

Next time we'll probably promote the www.ietf.org/live/ page.

The key point is that you have a page separate from the live streaming service where you can post updates.

2. Have An Alternate Live Stream Either Active Or Ready To Go

As I mentioned previously, in this case we happened to be set up with a second live stream out through Livestream.com purely because we wanted to test the live streaming into Germany. Had remote IETF participants in Germany not asked about this after being unable to view the earlier technical plenary, we wouldn't have had this second stream active.

Next time, we will have a second live streaming service either active or at least on standby ready to go.

At the IETF meetings, we have the luxury of having an insane amount of bandwidth and so there are not the typical connectivity constraints you find in meeting venues. The software and equipment our producer was using could go out to multiple live streaming services. There is really no reason we can't run multiple streams.

For the IETF we still have the IPv6 requirement, which unfortunately Livestream.com does not yet meet. However, it occurred to us after the session that we could have streamed to a Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) as that would have also streamed out over IPv6 in addition to IPv4. Of course, that would mean relying on two Google services and so you run the risk of having the technical issues affecting one live streaming service also affecting the other - plus there was the whole "streaming into Germany" thing.

We'll definitely keep investigating what other live streaming services may work over IPv6. There are a good number of live video streaming services out there and the number seems to be growing. The company producing the video stream for us also had their own streaming server that we might be able to use as a backup, too. And, yes, we can also have an IPv4-only streaming service available if everything else falls through.

Now, in non-IETF environments where I do have to worry about bandwidth constraints, I will at least have a plan for how I can rapidly spin up a second stream if the first one fails. That's really the key point. What is Plan B and how fast can you make it happen?

3. Have Access To Relevant Social Media Accounts And Other Methods Of Letting People Know

This is perhaps a subset of Lesson #1, but another critical part of our success in redirecting people to the second live stream was that we had access to the relevant social media accounts and other means of spreading the word. I had access to the IETF Google+ page and could make the updates there. Someone else was able to send out a tweet with the new link to the live stream. An email was sent out to all attendees and to other relevant email lists letting them know about the link.

The key point is that when we updated the event page with the new information, we could let people know!

In The End...

... the session was streamed live across the Internet. It was recorded and made available for later viewing. And... we learned a few lessons to make sure our live streaming infrastructure is more resilient next time so that this potential "nightmare" becomes nothing more than just a minor bump and redirection.

What about you? If you do live video streaming what steps have you taken to ensure you can keep streaming in cases like this?


I also recorded an audio commentary about this situation:


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A Critical Audio Setting In Live Streaming With Google+ Hangouts On Air (That I Missed!)

Do you have the correct audio stream configured in Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) when you are doing live streaming of an event using a HOA? When we ran our live stream out of ION Krakow on Monday, I mentioned that we hit the undocumented 4-hour maximum time limit, but we actually had a larger issue that for the first 1 hour and 45 minutes -
our live stream's audio was terrible!

Truly un-listenable at times. :-(

It turned out that while I had correctly configured Google+ HOA to use the proper video setting for the "Wirecast Virtual Camera", I didn't realize that I had to separately configure the audio seeting to specifically pull in the audio stream from my capture device:

Googleplus hangouts audio settings 450

I just mistakenly assumed that HOA would pull the audio from the camera... but instead it was getting the "Default microphone", meaning the mic on my laptop.

Interestingly, we didn't discover this in testing because when I was doing the testing with a wireless microphone I was sitting at my laptop and so naturally the audio quality was excellent. I did walk up to the front of the room at one point but even then there was no one in the room and my voice could be heard well.

The good news is that I had a separate recording going from the house mixer into my Zoom H4N, so I have a complete audio track for the event. Now I just have to go back and create a new video recording, stripping out the old bad audio track and syncing the backup recording. Not ideal but will at least give us videos of the sessions that we can upload.

The bad news is, of course, that the experience of the initial viewers was quite poor and I'm sure some of them did not stay around to watch more of the session under the assumption it would remain that way.

Why did it take so long for us to fix it?

Well, I was the one operating the livestream and I was speaking at the beginning and then moderating a panel discussion, so it was purely the case that I wasn't in a position to be able to diagnose and sort out the fix. During the break I finally had a chance to do so.

It was also a valuable lesson in monitoring. To look at the audio levels I was watching the graphical meters in Wirecast but I wasn't watching the level in the Google+ HOA screen! That was ultimately how I realized what was wrong. It also pointed out that we need to be running a second machine that is watching the actual livestream so that we can hear the issues ourselves.

All in all a valuable set of lessons that I'll be adding to my checklist for the next time we do a livestream using Google+ Hangouts On Air.

P.S. The key point of the whole exercise was to prove we could livestream an event out over IPv6, which did in fact prove to be successfu1!


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Lesson Learned The Hard Way - Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) Have A Maximum Time Limit of 4 Hours

I learned a hard lesson today that Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) are limited to 4 hours in length.
UPDATE, Nov 2014: Google has now raised the time limit to 8 hours. On Google's HOA support page, it now says:
For how long can I broadcast a Hangout On Air?

You can host a Hangout On Air for up to 8 hours, and the recording will be the same length as your broadcast.
Thank you to Jacob Share for leaving a comment with this news.

Today when we were live streaming our five-hour ION Krakow conference out of Poland using a Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) everything was going along fine. (It was, indeed, working over IPv6!) People were watching on both our Google+ page as well as our YouTube channel. All was fine.

Then, all of a sudden... it stopped. No warning. Nothing. I didn't even notice that the red "Broadcasting" button was gone from the G+ HOA window.

Someone pinged us on Twitter to let us know the stream was down... and sure enough, the HOA had stopped broadcasting... right in the middle of one of our panel sessions!

I had to quickly exit that HOA and then relaunch a new HOA, which resulted in a new HOA for people to join on our Google+ page... and then pointing people to a YouTube URL with our channel name ending in "/live" to get our live stream (in our case, http://www.youtube.com/user/depoy360/live).

What Happened?

Why did the Google+ Hangout On Air just quit broadcasting on us?

Gplus hoa four hoursI didn't have a definite answer... but if you look at the first YouTube recording of our ION Krakow event, you'll notice the interesting time amount that I'm highlighting in the image to the right.

Yep... 3:59:59!

So I was thinking either:

  1. Google+ Hangouts On Air have a 4 hour maximum; or
  2. there was some kind of software or network glitch conveniently at the 4 hour time mark. (And unicorns might be grazing in my back yard when I get back from my trip, too.)

I searched online tonight and couldn't find any reference to a time limit. I saw nothing in the Google+ HOA FAQ or even in the HOA Terms of Service. I looked through the Google+ HOA Technical Guide, too, and found again nothing there.

The Answer (Maybe?)

Then I wound up searching Google's Support site with the phrase "hangouts on air maximum time" and... ta da... there was an answer in Google's product forums from May 2012 that said:

the time limit for Hangouts On Air is 4 hours. At 4 hours, the broadcast will automatically stop.

which is exactly the experience we had today. There was also another answer in a product forum from December 2012 that said:

Hangouts On Air can last up to 4 hours. You’ll receive a warning when you have 1 hour remaining, and then subsequent warnings as you approach the 4 hour limit.

If there were any warnings, I have no idea where they went to. I certainly don't remember seeing any warnings! It just stopped.

What was worse what that the Google+ HOA window stopped broadcasting but still continued to show the video stream as per usual - so when I was just glancing at the window it all looked fine. I didn't notice that the big red button was missing.

Thankfully for me...

Now... being the paranoid type, I was recording the video out of Wirecast onto my local hard drive at the same time I was sending it to Google+ HOA, so I do now have a copy of the video of the several minutes in the middle of our panel that didn't get streamed. But:

  • It was a poor user experience for anyone watching to just have it stop.
  • We now have two video segments instead of one big one. (although that's not necessarily a bad thing... I just would have liked to break the segment at a break in the panels)
  • This means additional post-production work to stitch it all together.
  • We had no warning.

This last point is perhaps the biggest annoyance... if we had known there was a four-hour limit, we could have planned for that. We could have stopped and restarted in one of the breaks, for instance. We just didn't want to do that because then it means viewers have to start watching a new video stream, and we thought that some number of users might miss that they had to start watching a new stream.

We wanted the viewer experience to be as simple and painless as possible.

So consider this a warning for you all... should you decide to try using Google+ Hangouts On Air to live stream sessions longer than 4 hours, well, you need to first have some plan to break the HOA into smaller segments!

P.S. And yes, if you listen to our ION Krakow recording on YouTube, the first 1 hour and 45 minutes have terrible audio quality... but that will be the subject for a post tomorrow. Essentially, I missed that HOA had a separate setting for bringing in the audio from our camera (which was supplied by the A/V mixing board) and so I was using audio from my laptop's mic. :-( Thankfully: 1) we fixed it; and 2) I was running a backup audio recorder pulling an aux feed from the house mixer so I can bring that audio back in from that separate recorder.

P.P.S. I'll also be putting up a blog post in the next few days about how we successfully did do this live video streaming over IPv6.


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"It's all content! It's just story!... They want stories! They are dying for them." - Kevin Spacey's Brilliant Speech

Kevin spaceyDo you want to understand the future of television? of online video? of the future of creating video content? Actor Kevin Spacey really nails it in this speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

If you have 45 minutes, the entire speech can be found on YouTube:
 

Some of the key points I enjoyed were around the 39-minute mark, but the whole piece is a brilliant look at where online video and television is at right now.

If you only have a few minutes, someone at the Telegraph in the UK made a 5-minute edited version that hits many of Spacey's key points:

It truly is a great analysis of where we are today... and where the opportunities are...

I loved, too, that Spacey said something very close to what I wrote here back in January 2012 about the key to reducing piracy: give the people the content they want in the channel they want at a reasonable cost. It really is that simple.

I do hope that people in leadership positions within the media industry will watch / listen to this speech... if they want their businesses to survive and thrive in our new world, I believe many of the keys can be found here in this talk.

What do you think? Do you agree with Kevin Spacey?


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The Amazing Number of Live Video Streams From The Republican And Democratic National Conventions

DncWant another sign of the way the Internet has changed journalism? Just look at the sheer number of live video streams coming out of the Democratic National Convention when it starts today! Or look at the live streams that were from the Republican National Convention last week.

Naturally, the major US "TV networks" all have their own video livestreams: ABC, CBS, Fox News, CNN. (Interesting to see that NBC was not listed for either convention.) Similarly C-SPAN and PBS will also have livestreams.

This is not really any great surprise since all of those organizations would typically be broadcasting live video coverage from the event anyway over the traditional TV networks, so adding an Internet livestream is really just a matter of putting the technology in place to stream out the existing video feed.

But look at some of the other players...

  • The Wall Street Journal is streaming out the DNC convention on both YouTube and through its own mobile apps for iOS and Android (as it did for the RNC convention last week).

  • The Sunlight Foundation is streaming out a "fact-checked live stream" (as it did last week for the RNC).

  • Politico.com is offering a video livestream tonight as they did last week.

  • Various "Occupy" groups have livestreams of the protests at the conventions via Ustream.

... and I'm sure there are probably others who aren't listed on those GigaOm pages who will be streaming out video from the floor of the convention. It's fascinating to look at what tools like YouTube, Google+ Hangouts, Ustream and so many more have done to make it possible for so many more people to offer video livestreams.

Perhaps more importantly, both the Republican and Democratic parties have their OWN video livestreams and in the case of the DNC their own mobile apps.

They are using the Internet to tell their own story in their own words, bypassing the media entirely for those who want to watch the party's view of the event.

So many different players... from both the "traditional" media and so many newer organizations...

Simply amazing at times to see what this Internet thing has enabled... :-)

P.S. And yes, from a technical point of view, I'd be fascinated to learn more about how the various organizations put together the technical capacity to pull this all off. On a network level, there has to be a great amount of bandwidth going into these convention centers... and presumably multiple layers upon layers of redundancy.

Image credit: I took a screenshot of one of the photos on the DNC website.


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Inspiring Video: LeVar Burton's TOC Keynote On The Power Of Stories and Storytelling

One of the highlights of attending O'Reilly's TOCCON last week in New York turned out to be a short but incredibly inspiring keynote presentation by LeVar Burton, who some of us may forever know as "Geordi LaForge" from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and others may know from his 25 years with "Reading Rainbow" or as Kunte Kinte way back in days of "ROOTS". As he is of course a professional actor, his delivery was wonderful to listen to, but even more I enjoyed what he had to say about the power of stories and storytelling. Some key quotes to me:
I am a firm believer in the link between that which we imagine and that which we create.

The stories that we tell each other, and have told each other, throughout the history of the development of civilization, are integrally important, are inextricably linked, to how we continue to invent the world in which we live.

That, upon which we focus our attention, is what we manifest in the third dimension.

The stories that we tell each other inform us about who we are, why we're here and where we're going.

You come here to use your imaginations in the service of storytelling.

He spoke, too, about the transition we are in now with publishing and the road ahead.

It was a very inspiring presentation and a great way to start the day... enjoy!


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Video: Oh, the Places You'll Go at Burning Man!

I hadn't really mashed up Dr. Seuss and the annual Burning Man festival in my brain, but a gent named Teddy Saunders did and the result is this amazing video!

It's a wonderfully well-done re-telling of Dr. Seuss' classic book "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" set in the Arizona desert and showcasing many creative people and their structures, artwork and talents. The whimsical nature of Dr. Seuss fits so well with the structures and the people.

For communicators it's an interesting example of taking a well-known story and using video from an event to illustrate that story. I'm not quite sure that anywhere other than Burning Man could illustrate this particular story so well, but the idea is very good to think about for other events.

Enjoy...


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Fun Video: The Joy of Books

I can't even begin to imagine the amount of time it must have taken to create this video... but I admire the folks you did it! Fun to watch...


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The Remarkable Success of Sean Quigley's Little Drummer Boy Video

The tools we have today to unleash creativity are utterly amazing. Recording a version of the classic song "The Little Drummer Boy" is not terribly remarkable... but... creating your own arrangement, playing all the instruments and singing, recording and editing a really fun video, and then getting 1.4 million hits on YouTube... and all at the age of 16... THAT is remarkable!

If you haven't seen it yet, just watch 16-year-old Sean Quigley's video:

As a result of the amazing interest in the video, the high school student in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, (note the red "Canada" gloves in the video) has now been on the major Canadian TV and radio networks and has been receiving attention from around the world. As articles in USA Today and on CTV News can attest, he now has an agent and is in fact selling copies of his song online.

This interview on CTV News back on December 2nd gives a bit of the background:

Of course, at that time, the number of views was still only in the thousands. Now, as I'm writing this post, the number of views is closing in on 1.4 million... and I'd expect it to probably go even higher.

What I find so cool about this all is that Sean Quigley did all of this himself with the help of a few friends.

He shot it all using a basic DSLR camera. He recorded all the instruments and vocals into a computer. He did the editing/post-production - I don't know using what software but there are many inexpensive choices.

No fancy commercial production houses. No extra producers.

Just a talented individual able to make use of tools he had available.

He didn't need to ask permission of anyone to upload the video.

He just did.

It's awesome to see... and he and his family and friends certainly have a good bit to be proud of... I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll do next!

And I'm looking forward to the continued creativity to come out of all the people in this world with the easy access to tools... and an open Internet on which to publish their work...

P.S. Those interested in following what is next for Sean Quigley can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


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