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Monday Musing: Up Periscope

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

The week before last I took a tour of the British Museum’s “Defining Beauty” exhibit, hosted by historian Dan Snow (who has a gorgeously plummy accent. Bonus). I did this while pacing the corridors of AAM, channeling Dan through my iPhone via Periscope, a live streaming app introduced by Twitter about 2 1/2 months ago.

Despite the teeny screen, I was impressed by the overall quality and steadiness of the  image. (This post on the British Museum’s website explains what gear they for camera and mic.) There were some glitches: audio interference a few times: the fact that while the museum quite reasonably chose to film in landscape mode, the app is configured to display real time comments from viewers in portrait (leading to much flipping back and forth of the phone as I monitored the online chatter). But overall it was pretty dang great. See what you think:

Futurist Garry Golden wrote a post for CFM back in February sharing his experiences with Georama–a real-time streaming tour service that provides vicarious experiences, “the ability to virtually explore a destination in real-time via a human guide who is on the ground and able to answer questions from hundreds or thousands of people watching in real-time.” As he pointed out, this kind of “simulcasting” combines the impact of live video with a trusted guide. And despite it’s limitations, Periscope did a pretty dang fine job of delivering that for the British Museum. 

Two things particularly attracted me about Periscope as platform. Through its relationship to Twitter, it gives organizations with large Twitter followings an pre-existing fan base for the video feeds. Second, I liked the interactive features. Users can tap the screen to indicate love and approval at any point in the broadcast, and while the resulting flow of hearts streaming across the stream was a little distracting, it also provided a real-time feedback on what resonated with viewers. The comments, monitored by an off-screen staff member, enabled Snow to respond to questions from viewers. (Unfortunately you can’t see these two features–the hearts and comments–on the video embed.)  

I’d be happy to sign on for another museum Periscope tour. Do any readers have one planned for their institution? Please share!

Monday musings are my way of sharing brief, off-the-cuff thoughts about something I have read recently, both to help clarify my thinking an in the hopes of generating discussion and response. I give myself 15 minutes or so to jot down a summary of the article(s) stuck in my brain, and outline why I think they may be important.

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