Up Scope! Is Periscope the Ultimate Killer App?

Periscope App

(WTNH) When my friend and on-air colleague Teresa Dufour bounded up on the set for the conclusion of Good Morning Connecticut today — alright, she technically didn’t “bound,” she’s 8-months pregnant, but still — she mentioned a new app she’s using called Periscope, and said it was going to change the broadcasting/webcasting world as we know it.

So I started looking into it, and I think Teresa may be right.  While it’s easy to get overexcited about new apps that promise to change the world but eventually turn out to be merely kinda cool, I think Periscope has the potential to lead THE revolution in social media, the internet overall, and news gathering– among other, perhaps, more troubling trends.  If you’re hearing about this now for the first time, like I was, read on and see what you think.

In its most basic terms, Periscope allows users to broadcast live across the web, to a handful of followers or to the world, directly from their handheld device.  As one website commenter put it, you now have a mini-satellite truck in your hand, minus the satellite and the truck.  Not a completely new concept, but one that now has the muscle of Twitter behind it.  Twitter bought Periscope in January, and has already integrated it fully into its system.  If you’re on Twitter, you push a button and you’re broadcasting (or “Periscoping”).  Anyone who follows you on Twitter, if they have the app, can tune in live.  And not just tune in; viewers can comment, or ask questions that pop up on the Periscoper’s screen (“can you pan left, please? I can’t quite see the sautéed asparagus”), which can be responded to in real time (by panning left).

The possibilities for live news would seem endless, as would the ability to share lifetime moments in real time — weddings, graduations, the Kardashian family Christmas.  But there are lots of horror scenarios, too: someone on a building ledge who wants the world watching to see if he jumps;  criminals and terrorists who commit their awful deeds for a live audience; the Kardashian family Christmas.  And lots and lots of crushingly boring Periscopes that could make youtube seem like an art cinema archive.

A few other random notes about Periscope:

—  it’s only available for iOS phones right now.  A competitor, Meercat, has an Android app, but without a partner like Twitter, may face an uphill climb.

— It could be a copyright nightmare.  Those phones people hold up at rock concerts? Now they’ll be live webcasting the whole show to countless nonpaying fans.  Periscope already was in one kerfuffle over the recent Mayweather/Pacquiao fight.  While most fanspaid $90 to see it on Pay TV, others saw it for free, compliments of people Periscoping it from their television screen.

— One word: privacy. You could be on live television, doing whatever it is you do, and not even know it.,,,until later.

— I can’t even imagine what the porn industry is going to do with this.

Live broadcasting to anyone, anywhere, from the palm of your hand. I think it could be a revolution; and with apologies to Gil Scott-Heron, this revolution will be televised.


Let me know your thoughts. Am I getting carried away?  Are there pluses or minuses to Periscope that I’m not grasping?  While you’re at it, follow me on Twitter @jimwatkinsnews8   and get my articles tweeted directly to you




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