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April 9, 2015 / carlispina

Stream Almost Anything With Periscope

PeriscopeRecently Periscope and Meerkat, two new apps that make it easy to live stream video over Twitter, have made quite a splash. People have used them for everything from streaming media interviews to recording video of their pets playing and sharing it with their Twitter followers, with new users and new uses emerging every day. I decided to start by taking a look at Periscope.

Though Meerkat had the upper hand in the early buzz about these apps, Periscope was the live streaming option that Twitter targeted for purchase and since the sale was finalized it has gained notoriety. Getting started with the app is fairly straightforward. Once you create an account and tie it to your Twitter account, you are presented with a list of broadcasts that are currently available for viewing. This list is split into two sections with the top of the screen displaying live broadcasts from users you follow and the bottom of the screen showing recent broadcasts from everyone else on Periscope, with a few “Featured” broadcasters listed at the top of this second list. You can also opt to view the “Global List” which shows all of the videos that are currently being streamed. For a select number of top broadcasts, this includes a still image from the stream, the number of people currently viewing the broadcasts, the name of the broadcast and the name and avatar of the user; for all of the rest, it simply includes the name of the broadcast, the name of the user and the number of people watching. When you first set up your account and connect it to your Twitter account, it will automatically import everyone that you follow on Twitter who also has a Periscope account and you can add to this list of people you follow by searching for people and tapping the plus button once you find users who you find interesting. While following people was initially not terribly important, Periscope recently added an option to limit those people who can chat with you on your video to only people you follow. You can also choose to only share a broadcast with set people if you would like to keep it more private. Finally, you can also decide for each broadcast that you create whether you would like to have it posted to Twitter automatically or not. By default, Periscope shares your general location information, but you can opt out of this if you would prefer.

Periscope Screenshot

Once you start your broadcast, your selected audience can see and hear everything you record in real time. They can also chat with you or share hearts to show that they like your broadcast. Once you are finished, you can end your broadcast by swiping down on the screen, and, if you have opted to set your account up to auto save your videos, the entire video will be saved to your device. If you do save your broadcasts, you won’t see the chat comments or hearts in your recording, but you will have a full recording of the video and audio from your broadcast.

Periscope Screenshot 2

To try Periscope out, I used it to record a class I taught on using free legal research tools to see whether this might be a viable means of offering information literacy classes. Overall, I found that it was pretty easy to set Periscope up for this purpose. I used a tripod to set up my device, which was a bit tricky since Periscope doesn’t offer many options to zoom in or focus your recording, meaning that the tripod had to be very close to my screen. Actually starting and stopping the recording was easy and Periscope does offer some analytics after you finish your broadcast, including the number of people who watched your broadcast live and the number of times it was replayed (all broadcasts are saved in the “Watch Tab” for 24 hours unless deleted by the creator). For my impromptu research session, I had 60 live viewers, though I suspect many of these were just people curious about Periscope since it is still so new. I was also able to save my recording and upload it to my library’s YouTube account, though I was ultimately disappointed with the video quality that I achieved with this particular set up. I would definitely like to try Periscope again, though I think it requires better lighting and might be better suited to other uses that don’t rely as heavily on the viewer being able to see a computer screen. Overall, I think Periscope might offer some interesting options for libraries. It will be interesting to see whether Periscope and Meerkat prove to a be a fad or gain widespread use across industries.


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