(OR WHY PERISCOPE MATTERS)
It’s showtime on the Internet. With the launch of Periscope, Twitter has enabled each of us to livestream video to our followers. That’s good news for our cats, and that’s good news for Twitter, a company that has seen some of its promise limited by the very technological age in which it emerged.
There are those addicts who won’t be satisfied until they bear down and squeeze every iota of content from the deepest recesses of their unconscious gray matter to the bright lights of their Twitter timelines. For the rest of us (ok, the rest of you), Twitter is most useful and entertaining when those tweeting are gathered around a unified topic.
Think about it. Twitter is at its best during presidential debates, the Academy Awards, the World Cup, Apple keynotes, and the Super Bowl; those moments when we’re all talking about the same thing at the same time.
Television has been the primary screen around which we have gathered on our virtual coaches to make points, crack jokes, and transform our personal jealousies of celebrities and famous athletes into retweetable snark. (“Sure, that guy who just won an Oscar is going to spend the night having sex with three models on top of a pile of cash, but did you see how many retweets I got?”)
The DVR and subsequent modes of watching video have conspired to make these universal moments all too rare. Everything is time-shifted or binge-watched according to our own individual schedules and our willingness to suffer the risk of show spoilers (sidenote: Please don’t tell me who shot J.R.).
Aside from sports, major awards shows, breaking news events, and the occasional reality show finale, live television is dead. That’s bad news for Twitter. That’s bad news for the advertisers whose commercials you’re fast-forwarding over. And that’s bad news for those of us looking for some conversation, who more often than not, find that we’re left to mumble to ourselves on our own virtually deserted front stoops.
Twitter doesn’t work if we’re all talking past each other about entirely different topics; lost in the egocentric, pathetic, little fake worlds of our own making. That’s what Facebook is for.
So what do you do if your product is at its best during live, shared events, but there are almost no live events left to share?
You make the live events yourself.
Or better yet, you get us to do it.
That’s where Periscope comes in. Except in rare cases, these streamed events will not be global or even national in nature. But they will be live, we’ll know exactly who’s watching with us, and the content will be pushed through the same pipes that support our conversations around it. Live fodder for discussion and the discussion itself all on the same social network.
To paraphrase the great Bonnie Raitt, Twitter had to give us something to Tweet about.
Your live cat video will be the start. But advertisers and content creators won’t be far behind. For years, Television networks and Twitter have been trying to figure out the best way to build buzz and share data. The true promise of that goal could be reached when both are being shared on the same platform. TV would never be able to figure out social. So Twitter has to figure out video.
Sure, there’s something a bit depressing about a future that requires us to be sharing the same live video in order to actually get a conversation going. But it sure beats just looking at our own screens all alone.
So take your places everyone. Because we’re live.