I’ve seen the future, through a Periscope.

I’ve been reading about how live-streaming video is the next big thing, which struck me as a bit odd because live-streaming has been around and accessible since 1992, but then I tried Twitter’s new product, Periscope.

After using it for a couple weeks, I’m convinced it is the next big thing.

Shared experience

The most obvious reason for my excitement is the world of shared experiences. In just a couple days I have taken a personal tour around David Blaine’s office, watched Sophia Bush banter with some fans, and enjoyed a beautiful ocean view with Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo. More meaningfully, I sat with Drew Olanoff during a chemo treatment and I walked a few NYC blocks with my friend Carolyn Penner, all via Periscope on my phone.

It’s hard to articulate why, but each experience felt authentic and personal. Even though live video streaming isn’t new, this beautifully-designed phone-to-phone broadcast experience is a giant leap forward in making the world a much smaller place, and that’s exciting.

Broadcast anxiety

I didn’t think I would ever live broadcast video. I tweet and write on Medium regularly, but both forms of expression give me a chance to re-read, edit, fix errors, get feedback, etc. before publishing my thoughts. Live video does not, because it’s… wait for it, live, and that’s scary.

That said, today I tried it out. I took my family to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (which is like the most Texan thing) and decided to broadcast baby chickens hatching from their eggs. I thought it was cute and if we’ve learned anything over the last decade, it’s that the Internet loves cute things, so I loaded the app and hit the broadcast button.

Within minutes, there were 60 or so people watching, commenting, and giving me (or the cute baby chicks) some love.

The crazy thing, for me, was the lack of broadcasting anxiety.

There’s no editing, no proof-reading, no re-thinking… it’s just all happening live. It felt great and it was fun. From someone who uses all the next-big-thing apps, I can’t remember being so excited about a new app, a new medium, a new experience.

Feedback loops

We love feedback loops. When we tweet, we get favs and retweets. When we post on Facebook, we get likes. When we put a picture on Instagram, we get hearts… so we want to do it again.

Feedback loops are essential for a networked app, and Periscope literally gives you realtime feedback. When I pointed the camera at my 2 year old’s big smile as the chickens were hatching, I instantly saw many hearts float up and dissipate on my phone screen. It was a really great experience. No refreshing to see who liked my broadcast, no checking back later to see what people said, it all happened in real time, together.

Periscope’s feedback loops are small and tight. They make you feel good and leave you wanting more.

The future

The thing that excites me the most about Periscope is the future, not the far future where more media is live video (though that’s exciting), but the near future where more friends and family are sharing their experiences. It’s super fun to have a personal’ish experience with a celebrity, but here’s what I’m really looking forward to:

  • Watching my nephew’s first at bat at his first little league game, no matter where I am in the world
  • Broadcasting my kid’s school performances to our friends and family
  • Going out with my younger, hipper friends… without getting out of bed
  • Sharing the ups and downs of life with the people I know and love

As for the Periscope vs. Meerkat battle, I’ll say two things. One, I’m sure there will be lots of players in this game and competition is a good thing. Two, I’ve used both and, in my opinion, Periscope is better designed. The visual design and the user experience have both clearly been thought through and implemented well.

I’ve had a few “we’re living in the future” moments lately — From virtual reality, to my car getting better with over-the-air software updates, to Periscope. We aren’t far from the worlds portrayed in Super Sad True Love Story or Ready Player One. Personally, I’m both excited and frightened, but I’ll definitely have an eye in the Periscope to see it all unfold!

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