periscope cover photo

As a veteran explorer of new social media networks, I recently felt there was no frontier left for me to discover. I’d seen it all, from location-based dating apps that track your every movement to gif-generating photo sharing platforms with limited audiences. Last week, however, I took my right earbud out and left the solace/preparation of my Aaronchella playlist to listen in on a conversation between two coworkers. “Yeah you can just stream whatever you’re doing and literally anyone, anywhere can watch.”

Periscope is an app which allows you to stream live video from your phone’s camera to the world wide web, and also peer into the feeds others have chosen to share. This opportunity for real-time social media sharing opened up a new adventure for me to experience. Read on for a log of my travels through live streaming my lifestyle.

Friday March 27th, 3:25PM:

“San Francisco tech startup office look-in”

After downloading the app and linking my Twitter account, I turn the camera toward my boss for a test run that I assume will go unviewed. Three minutes, 20 viewers, and several questions about the contents of our mini-fridge later, I’ve given a tour of our conference room, shown off my collection of tech-branded sunglasses, and given an awkward exit address to our suddenly crowded office.

Friday March 27th, 4:07PM:

“Literally just me working at my desk”

I think perhaps the large viewership from my previous stream is a result of my intriguing title. This turns out not to be the case. Sixteen people tune into me bobbing my head to music, grinning sheepishly as more people watch me do almost literally nothing, and then blush as hearts symbolizing the adoration of my audience pop up from the bottom of the screen.

Friday March 27th, 6:35 PM:

Tour of a San Francisco apartment”

I walk up my three flights of stairs as viewers pile in for a slice of my life. They ask to see the art I had decorated my room with, the view from my balcony, and most of all, the contents of my fridge, which earns a 6/10 on the apparently well established “fridge scale.” Friends and colleagues from the real world begin to tune in as Periscope makes its way through iMessages, water coolers, newsfeeds, and happy hours around the world.

Saturday March 28th, 11:37 PM:

San Francisco house party”

Holding the camera to unveil my surroundings, I pan between guests, drinks, and eventually progress out the door and down the street. I answer viewers’ questions, interview friends, and even explore the fridges at the liquor store we pass at the request of my audience. 94 viewers, more than two and a half hours of cumulative view time, and nearly 2,000 hearts add up to the king of all my streams.

Tuesday March 31st, 9:00 PM:

“Me writing a piece about Periscope for my blog”

Not expecting much as I sit here writing this piece, I figure it would be quite meta to stream myself on the app I’m writing about as I’m writing about the app. However, soon there are 50 people in my bedroom with me, at which point I realize I need to take them to my refrigerator. What follows is a brief discussion of what we do at Thelma, what I’m writing about in my piece, and what my favorite kind of cheese is (sharp white cheddar).

periscope screencaps

While the events I shared covered only the mundane events, akin to many streams listed on the app such as “Hearts for cute girls” and “My cat in my lap,” the possibilities of what audiences will have live access to are endless. Imagine “scoping in” to protests, concerts, sporting events, live births, and natural disasters. Periscope represents yet another great stride towards society transcending into modern cultural conceptions of the future. By this I do not mean a world of flying cars, teleportation technology, and capsulized meals.

I’m talking about a culture that shares information faster and more effectively ever before. The Internet and the devices that allow us to access it any time, anywhere have unified the world’s thoughts and opinions into one digital hive mind. While online news and social media have given us near-instant interaction with events on the other side of the planet, we can now live these moments as they happen in real time.

Despite the ways Periscope will be able to digitally connect people all over the world, the app and the technologies coming along with it are not without their drawbacks. I answered questions from an audience of up to 50 people in my last stream, but I was still sitting in my room alone staring at a screen. The live footage from my party entertained dozens of people, but at the cost of my guests that had bothered to actually visit my home as opposed to merely tapping on my stream. As much as we’re now able to “share” with friends and family online, the piling number of reasons to glue our eyes to our screens and cram headphones into our ears is taking away from sharing experiences with those in our actual, physical proximity.