Periscope’s Magic Moments

I was three minutes from deleting the Periscope app on Day 1.

I saw little value in watching people drive to work and was annoyed by the barrage of alerts. But I gave it one last shot and discovered three magic moments worth noting.

Magic Moment #1: Suddenly seeing viewers materialize

Friends always have the same reaction when I broadcast them: “Oh my god where did the 30 viewers come from? …That’s creepy, but cool. …Don’t stream me.”

While the interface is elegant and simple, the real beauty comes from suddenly seeing people appear.

Magic Moment #2: Location, location, location

One of my first broadcasts was of a fire in NYC. Over 100 people tuned in and many felt compelled to announce their location. “Hello from Belgium”, “Hello from Brazil” while we watched something terrible together.

People declaring their location to a stream from SF

With Periscope I get to jump around the globe in real time and, more interestingly, people bring their world to me. It makes the world seem smaller, while paradoxically making my world feel bigger.

Magic Moment #3: Interaction

Watching sunsets and puppies gets boring fast. But watching people answer questions or take requests delivers a drama that’s addictive.

It’s hard to stop watching a kid in Scotland take dares to do things in class (cough, clap, sneeze, raise your hand, etc) or drunk people answer random questions. Even my daughter had a good laugh when we had people guess our dog’s name.

The stream is largely just a pretext. It just convenes the crowd. The magic happens when people interact.

Will it last?

Taking a step back, Periscope reflects the beauty of the Internet itself. The best interactive phenomenon(posts, tweets, meetups, photos) use a pretext to convene a crowd. They setup serendipity and deliver real value by connecting people to each other. When it goes right it’s magic. When it goes wrong (think YouTube comments) it gets ugly.

If Periscope can manage the trolls it has a lot going for it.

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