The Birth Of the ‘Mundane’ Meerkat

If Twitter ever marries Snapchat, they’ll give birth to ‘Meerkat’. Less than three weeks old, the live streaming app is the talk of the town. Especially hitting a tech high at SXSW. Since it launched, over 910,000 meer-streams have been made and despite Twitter little freak out, it’s still growing.

CHECK IT OUT: After 3 days of active use, I’m on the Leaderboard.

Five days ago, I’ve downloaded the app and since then I’ve found myself on the Leaderboard — it showcases the top 100 active users worldwide. Not bad for a young Aussie girl. I wonder, do people enjoy the mundane?

As I write this, I went all meta and meerkast (live-streamed) my experience — 22 watchers kept me company while I typed away. I like to think they are enjoying my eclectic taste for Hip Hop and indie music. So far I’ve been a broken tripod, I meer-streamed a talk-conference for 3 hours and the world realised how familiar a suburbia Sydney train ride was. Enjoyed the glowing orange hues of an Australian sunset and talked about Monopoly nostalgia. We’ve toured around the new UTS Frank Gehry ‘paper brown bag’ building. We even chatted to @Frostickle, a biodata visualisation dude, who’s planning a trip to America. Lots of little random shit.

People are curious creatures, they like being provided an intimate experience of being somewhere, anywhere, anytime.

The Meerkat app live-stream real time experiences over Twitter.
If one of your dreams is to ‘star’ your own television show,
Meerkating is the way to go. Download the app.

Elsewhere on the digital live-stream world, ‘Mokbang’, a South Korean social eating phenomenon — watchers join forces and get a kick or comfort (depends if you think this is a fetish or not) from watching the host eat a large consumption of food. I’ve once observed a girl eat 5kg of fried chicken and she does it with a casual and yummy glee. While I didn’t understand the language, I did feel like she had a real active rapport with her audience. Surreal and weird it may be, this is potentially what the future of online consumption will be like.

MOKBANG: a food porn like experience, where people broadcast themselves eating a large copious amount of food.

Before that could happen, Australia needs to drastically improve internet infrastructure and affordability. For a supposedly first world country, we are ranked 44th for the fastest internet. If we look into America and South Korean market, I’m little envious. They have super fast, unlimited internet and it’s dirt cheap. Till we have readily accessible internet, our tech and innovation may be sadly lagging behind the rest of the world.

IN ACTION: #coffeemorning- showing social peeps the in and out of meerkat (image via @servantofchaos)

Being in early stage, I’ve noticed some glitches. When you message within the meer-stream, it goes directly to your Twitter feed. While I was testing the chat feature, a friend reaches out to ask if I was okay. From her perspective, it felt like I was a lunatic with a self imposed monologue.

What Meerkat is offering isn’t new but how they are making it accessible and easy to use is worth noting. The developers has designed the app to be an almost perfect marriage and integration to Twitter. After all, both platforms’ ethos are all about real time — fleeting engagement and right now. Twitter sudden break up with Meerkat, suggest they see them as a threat. Not surprising, since they acquired Periscope, a similar app. And in this fast paced tech world, they are slow to roll out their own version of real time live-streams.

A conversation about Meerkat:
“Have you turned off Meerkat yet?”
“No, a few people are watching”
Seriously, they don’t care.”
“It’s not that! I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Live-streaming has a humanising aspect that I believe social media tries hard to mimic. One thing that I’ve learnt from my Tinder experiment, people crave human connections. The live-streaming experience, while voyeuristic, offers that in droves.

Is it mundane? Not at all. Meerkat allows for an intimate setting to happen. You’re inviting people to your world. Like you can follow me on a meerkating overload on @stringstory. Be warned, I chat to random people as I tend to collect stories. And maybe one day I will meer-stream a fried chicken frenzy.

Suzanne Nguyen

*****

Some basic deets about Meerkat:
For more in depth detail of how amazing this app is, Mike Eglan (@MikeEglan) does it
eloquently here.

You do need two essential tools to start:
1. Meerkat App
(The Android is out)
2. Twitter account

*Oh yeah, watch out for the trolls and creeps.

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