Ever since Justin started reinventing The Truman Show on the Internet and broadcasting his everyday life for all to see, a bulb has been lit among many. Ustream.tv, which launched very recently, is one that is, you could say a live version of YouTube and a mass version of Justin.tv.
How It Works
The idea behind Ustream.tv is that anyone equipped with a reasonable Internet connection, a laptop, and a webcam (and optionally mic for audio), can stream anything to a large number of people. This can be used to stream live concerts (inspiration: AOL/Live 8 a couple years back), conferences, events, and anything you can imagine (Internet-based VJs? News reporters? Talk shows?). It can also be used to host things like meetings and video conferences between a group, not to mention the good ole’ speed-dating via webcam.
For example, the Web 2.0 Expo is San Francisco is currently being live broadcasted (livecasted?) as we speak. I’m currently watching something that is happening thousands of miles away, as it happens, for free. While it’s not entirely like being there, the video is great, the audio is clear, there’s people in the chatroom to keep things happening if I’m bored by the current speaker, so what else would I need? Chris Pirillo seems to have been experimenting with it recently with the show he calls ‘Tech Sex.’ The videos from his first attempts are on YouTube, and after having watched it, it’s really interesting to see it come alive in a manner where the whole thing is interactive, but at the same time open to all (as opposed to a conference meeting).
Obviously, the concept of ‘watching something thousands of miles away as it happens’ is not new at all, live television enabled that a few decades ago, but can you imagine watching the Web 2.0 Expo on CNN? Of course not — the difference with this kind of live streaming is that it’s meta, or freely enabled to the masses. We can now watch things that’s really important to us but only a few people care about, and stream things to enable hundreds of people from all over the world to experience what we are. I think this is going to be the new YouTube when it comes to generating user generated content and more importantly celebrities and personalities out of them (is Chris Pirillo the new LonelyGirl?). One could argue that only a few will really care about the user generated content until this gets big, so till then I guess that’s what streaming the local U2 concert is all about — after all, it did get AOL 5 million viewers when they did it.