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On Meerkat

Yesterday I wished my friends could see the beauty of my snowy backyard and I discovered the Meerkat app.

It seems everyone is buzzing about the free app that allows you to connect your iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch camera to Twitter and live stream or schedule the video you shoot real-time to all of your followers.  You can shoot videos portrait or landscape and turn the camera on yourself or the scene beyond.

Your live video stream shows up instantly on your followers’ Twitter feeds.  As folks start to watch, their Twitter profile pictures appear, and you can see and interact with your viewers,  Your viewers’ tweets to you appear on the screen, allowing you to respond.  Followers who have the app get notifications of additions and may watch, comment and interact on the app.

Videos on the stream are ephemeral, ala Snapchat, but they may be saved to the usual saving spaces. Because no one I knew had this new app, no one was there to see my snowy backyard scene, complete with my dramatic narration.  But I think that may change, quickly.

The developers, the  San Francisco-based Life on Air,  list the following rules of Meerkat:

  •  Everything that happens on Meerkat happens on Twitter.
  •  Streams will be pushed to followers in real time via push notifications.
  • People can only watch it live. There are no reruns.
  • You can save your streams to your phone, but Meerkat will never keep them.
  • Watchers can retweet any stream to their followers in real time.
  • Everyone can watch on web.
  • Be kind.

While Livestream and Ustream might be more practical for sharing video in a stickier way, I can see the app as having potential for field trips, distance learning, student discoveries, global news, citizen journalism and science.  Of course, it is being used to stream purely social events and may provoke some interesting citizenship conversations.

But imagine, if we coordinate it, next time around we might create a globally searchable live stream for Dot Day or #WRAD16.  Search #meerkat on Twitter to get a sense of the scene.


Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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