Thursday, April 14, 2016

Brave Old World: The Paris Periscope

I’ve been playing around with Periscope, a live video streaming app for iOS and Android. Here’s what the developers claim it does:
Just over a year ago, we became fascinated by the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes. What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? It may sound crazy, but we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation. While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience a place right now than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.
See through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Why, that sounds like the kind of journalism I want to do! In principle, the app lets me broadcast video live from my iPhone, either to the whole world or to a preselected group. The people who are watching can chat with me during the broadcast, so if you have questions I can answer them (you can hear me talk, although I can only read you). Or if you want to take a closer look at something, or go down a different street, or interview someone who catches your eye, I can take you wherever you want to go and ask whatever you’d like to ask.
To use the chat function, you have to get the app at the iTunes store or the Google Play store. Then you follow me. (I think that’s how it works, anyway: I only just downloaded it yesterday, so I’m not very fluent with it yet.) If you don’t have iOS or Android, you can still watch the videos on the web and with other mobile browsers, but you can’t chat with me. My username is @bravenewworld, of course. Shall we take it for a test drive this weekend? I could show you some examples of (great) prewar and (ghastly) postwar architecture in Paris. Or we can check out anything else you’d like to see. And we can learn together how this works and whether this is a useful tool for journalism — and if so, how best to use it. (By the way, EJ, I figured out yesterday that you’re not supposed to use it in landscape mode.)
Paris is six hours ahead of EST, seven ahead of CST, eight ahead of MST, and nine ahead of PST. I’m not sure what time would work best for everyone else, but any time between sunrise and sunset in Paris on Saturday or Sunday would work for me — although I can’t make any promises about the weather: If it’s really foul, we may have to hang out indoors, but there are lots of interesting things to see indoors in Paris, too. We could go to a museum, for example.
Here’s a time and weather coordination tool. If you’re game, tell me what your username is so I know I should accept your request, and tell me what times might work for you. Also, tell me what you’d like to see: Anything in particular?
You’ve purchased yourself a journalist, so you’re entirely entitled to make requests. Mind you, this is a trial run: I’m not sure I know how to do this. I cannot guarantee complete professionalism, yet, so it’s perhaps best not to cancel other plans to see this broadcast.
Otherwise, come visit Paris with me! Also, look: I made a widget!