Live Internet Video Stream

It’s time to start playing with the narcissystem! Last night, as witnessed by dozens of people from ’round the world, I spliced together five separate technologies to create a unified communications experience:

  3. Skype
  4. Twitter
  5. IRC

It turned out to be quite a successful recipe. In fact, the live video is still going…

[See the Larger Version / Community]

When I started, it was nothing more than an innocuous fascination with a service that I learned about a few weeks ago: Their idea is not really new, mind you – seems as though Stickam has been doing something similar for quite a while (although the Web interface for doesn’t put you on sensory overload). I just wanted to stream video and audio from my webcam live over the Internets.

Setting up an account was easy enough, but getting anybody to pay attention to a live event requires some sort of “flash mob” tool – which is where Twitter came into play. I let my 1,500 followers know that I was doing nothing and streaming the entropy live. Within moments, I had a few dozen people tuning into my digital insipidity.

Just as things were starting to pick up, an earthquake struck Acapulco. Local twitterers started tweeting – and Scoble picked up on the trend. Before long, a Mexico City blogger (who had experienced a 6.0 aftershock) was connected to the Ustream chat. I requested his Skype ID for a video chat – and we were connected within minutes. More people tuned into the live A/V stream, more people re-twittered the link, more people became active in the Ustream chat room, and #twitter on also started to receive a flurry of activity.

At some point during this convergence, I had started a live (free) teleconference using the LiveOffice service. Dozens of people were talking to one another in real-time, while watching me speaking with a man in another country about an event that was unfolding quicker than could be covered by traditional media outlets.

I hit the “Record” button in once or twice, not knowing what would happen with that recording. Pieces of last night’s experience are still visible through my account on Ustream. Don’t expect any award-winning performances. This isn’t about creating well-polished presentations – it’s about the real-time Live Web.

Took me five pieces of technology to put it together, though. Think the average person would have been able to connect those dots? You need a perfect storm of tools at your disposal – and a fair-sized audience to draw attention for your efforts.

Web streaming, technologically speaking, isn’t the greatest challenge. People have been using it for years (to various degrees of success). The hurdle, my friends, is connecting the “media” element with the human one. has it figured out – but “what comes next” is where my interest lies.

Two-way audio and video conversations, recordings including backchannel chatter, community-induced flow and direction, etc. It’s all attainable. The question is: will it ever get any easier?

I cannot rely on a single tool (or vendor) to provide me with the experiences I seek. I rely on widely-accepted platforms (Skype, IRC); I rely on where my non-contiguous community is attentive (Twitter); I rely on powerful media delivery and connectivity tools (, LiveOffice). Color me pessimistic, but I don’t believe any one company could ever deliver those various needs to me. That would be next to impossible – though if anybody could pull it off, it’d probably be Google.

So, I kept my webcam running in the “background” all day today – which would explain my relative silence in this blog. I’ve been figuring out how to make “continuous partial attention” valuable to both me and people who follow me (whether through Twitter or any other social network). It’s still running live – and may continue live for quite some time, with no specific direction or directive at hand.

Twitter answers the question: “What am I thinking now?” answers the question: “What am I doing now?” IRC (and Skype, potentially) answers the question: “What are we saying now?” These are all questions without specific answers – and in that chasm, I stumbled into an inelegant solution that came off quite well.

And so the neverending story continues…

66 thoughts on “Live Internet Video Stream”

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  5. Chris,
    It was a pretty cool thing to be watching you and such. And reading this blog post on a normal font that isn’t size 72 on your monitor is much better.
    It will be interesting how this all pans out.

  6. Neat view over your shoulder, but the sound sucks; it’s way over-driven, and so distorted I can’t make sense of anything you’re saying.

  7. Chris,

    Glad you enjoyed the live video experience. I’ll definitely advise Team Ustream to make sure they make it as easy as possible for users to mash in other services. I’m definitely going to have to check out LiveOffice’s conferencing–it really worked well.

  8. I dropped by and was surprised how smooth everything seemed to be running from the viewers standpoint

    Im still loving your Star Ship Enterprise , Desk Area , very eye appealing

    Some guys have all the fun ,,

    jp in canada

  9. My first experience with transmitting live video was some 16 years ago, when I lofted the 60 foot aluminum mast of a WRC-TV live truck, while covering a grocery store shooting in Southeast DC. Flicking the switch on the 2Ghz transmitter from “standby” to “transmit” was enormously empowering even magical. Since then I’ve transmitted live video, in the form of broadcast news, via microwave, satellite and fiber optics. I’m pretty jaded to being live at work(NBC News), and I grow restless being tied to a control room.

    The notion of easy, live video, available to anyone with broadband and a camera, has really re-kindled that empowering feeling i first felt 16 years ago. I’ve been playing with Stickam for a few months now. It’s pretty cool but my “live” offerings are limited to video tours of my environs with an audience I’ve lured away from their Twittering. Ocassionally, I summon the stones to Stickam an event NBC has assigned me to cover on Stickam with my big camera and broadcast audio (which people actually remark on).

    I think the context of live is as important as the content. Frankly people sitting in front of webcams !!LIVE!! has a certain “so what” factor to it. Chris, what you did, integrating the live video experience into real time events of significance is where this tecnhology will shine. Right now most of us are experimenting and doing it because we can. (and that’s fun!) How you used it is where we’ll see growth and the real value of live.

    Incidentally, Ustream appears to be FAR more robust than Stickam, by my observations. I’d LOVE if Ustream offered some type of video enabled phone integration. I discuss phones challenging the supremacy of the live-truck in old TV news here.

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  12. Hi chris. Iooks like your chatroom is off as I couldn’t access it. but I wanted to know if you kept your C64, I actually still have mine

  13. What brand/model of webcam are you using? I am looking for a webcam with audio and like the ways your operates.


  14. I dont know where to start or whether my idea is a crap,

    I would like to embed a live streaming traffic camera from other source into a simple flash, anybody please mail me the resources link?

  15. Hi chris. Iooks like your chatroom is off as I couldn’t access it. but I wanted to know if you kept your C64, I actually still have mine

  16. Hi Chris,

    Can this video stream be saved on hard drive.Wanted to do so for my lecturer classes.


  17. Ha none of you have obviously heard of BoxCast, most simple way to stream any video. Also will pay some high school organizations money for streaming their events. Get with it or get LOST

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