This weekend I finished writing a small piece for our clients around LIVE. We were noticing a lot of platform updates and device partnerships around live. Some dam broke open with Meerkat and then Periscope. Twitch had been around for a while but much like the GoPro at its inception, people treated it as a sort of niche thing for crazies. Now YouTube Gaming is struggling to match Twitch in traffic to live streams. Meanwhile, GoPro has partnered with Periscope to enable live streaming, Facebook has free live streaming for all US iPhone users and something called Facebook Stadium to provide a steady live stream of football events as they happen, Twitter is testing Moments in the UK and Snapchat has added Stories and overlays around major sports/cultural events (the SAG Awards coverage was pretty good).
They all say one thing: there’s live stuff happening at any time around the globe and you can see it now.
But with platforms opening live streaming to users as well, there’s something else creeping in: the possibility of a continuous, real time, as it happens flow of information into our devices. For those who want it and maybe for those who do not.
The question for me is what is the consumer need pushing all these updates?
I am old enough to remember the times when Vodafone was trying to make video calling a thing. It was, back then, expensive and people thought it cumbersome. Sharing important moments with people who were away? Sure, but not a lot of them were away that much and one could share via text or image or a phone call. If I start from that, these new developments seem to suggest there’s a lot more displacement and need to share in real time than I thought. Based on these LIVE “enablements” most people live separated from their loved ones or have incredibly rich lives which push them to live stream to everyone at almost any time.
Of course, there’s the argument around simplicity: Snapchat works because you point, record and send. No texting, no chatting, minimal effort, one function app. Video is also a bit more immersive (imagine 360 live streaming for everyone!!).
And still I wonder: what is the need here? Sharing everything as it happens with everyone. What does this mean?
One thing it means is that we will be paying less and less attention to life and projecting our experiences for other people to see. You share because you are making a statement about yourself: I am HERE doing THIS. Your focus is no longer on the happening. It’s on YOU. So, in becoming curators of our own lives we become less involved in them.
The second one I’ve just hinted at. Life will be “curated” by everyone. In the past, you experienced things in personal or mediated ways. You either were there or heard, read about it, saw it later. And mediated experiences were limited to “authoritative” curators: TV programmes, radio producers, photographers with access, etc. Twitter smashed through that with citizen journalism. And no, with live streaming for everyone, everything will be curated by all. You will be able to see everything through the eyes of everyone else at any time.
Is this better? Were we missing this?
To me it just feels slightly tiresome.
PS: I recognise I haven’t even touched on how this impacts brands. That’s probably part 2 of this story.