I really enjoyed the debut Paris Periscope. I hope those of you who joined me had as good a time as I did. I think the only parts of the experience you missed were the feelings of the cold and the wind, and the smell of the incense in the cathedral.
I need a lot of practice. (How did I manage to put my thumb on the camera so many times? I’ve only got two thumbs. You wouldn’t think keeping them under conscious control for half an hour would be so tricky.) I didn’t realize how loud the wind was. I figure it will take us about a dozen broadcasts to get the technical side of it totally sorted out. But don’t you think this app — or maybe the similar one Facebook’s rolling out — has potential? I really do.
One of the developers, Kayvon Beykpour, was also in Istanbul during the Gezi protests. He seems to have had the same thought I did:
Fast Company: Periscope got popular really fast. What inspired you to create it in the first place?
Kayvon Beykpour: I was in Istanbul when the protests in Taksim Square erupted. It was this really dramatic and pivotal moment, and I remember asking myself whether it was safe to go out or not. So the initial seed of Periscope was, “Why is it that I can’t see what’s happening right now somewhere in the world?” That’s when [my cofounder] Joe Bernstein and I started thinking about this idea of a teleportation machine. Obviously we can’t disassemble your matter and move it somewhere, but we could get close to it.
I knew I could — and would — write page upon page about what was happening, but I also knew that I didn’t have the ability to make people see it. I wrote article after article describing what I was seeing:
But what I wrote wasn’t compelling to my audience. I know it wasn’t, because when I came back to the US, I could see I hadn’t made anyone else understand it. People would ask me why they should care. It was as if I’d dropped into another universe, and I couldn’t make them connect. I don’t think it was because I failed to write about the situation clearly enough, and I don’t think it was because my audience was naturally indifferent. I think it was as simple as this: You had to be there. Otherwise, you wouldn’t believe it.
I think live videocasting has real potential for journalism. I bet if you lived through any part of an interesting story with me, in real time, you’d be much more interested in learning more about the story. It could make reporting — to a much larger extent — a shared experience.
My goal in all of this isn’t to go out looking for a story I’ve already decided to find. I want to let you ask the questions that are important to you, look for the answers together, and then let the story tell itself.
So where should we go next? Let’s stick to Paris until we reach the quarter-way mark with funding. (We’re really close!) Paris has no shortage of interesting stories. What you saw on the first broadcast was half a city block, and while not every block of Paris is that beautiful, they are, all of them, that interesting. There were eight million stories in the naked city, and there are certainly just as many in this one.
Now that you’ve seen the demo, you can see how live video-casting might be used. Tell me how you’d like to use it. You’re now officially in charge of the media.