Sunday, March 22, 2015

Meerkat - A game changer !!

"Meerkat mania sweeps across America !!, claimed MSCNBC on 03/20/2015 as the channel's political correspondent Kasie Hunt conducted the first ever live streaming interview of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest using Meerkat, a new app that enables anyone to live stream a video from their cell phone. Currently, live streaming requires a lot of hardware (and background software) support. But, with Meerkat, anyone can live stream a video using his\her cellphone. The video quality in the MSCNBC interview is reasonably good. The audio is clear. The App includes features such as recording the stream that can later on be uploaded on YouTube (or on other platforms). After logging in using twitter handle, the app connects the cellphone camera to a twitter stream. The moment one presses the "stream" button, an invitation with a link to the live stream is sent to all the twitter followers of the user. The followers and watch the stream and also 
post comments about the content or their watching experience. The viewer count is displayed on screen while the live stream is being transmitted, as are the comments (tweets) !! It is pathbreaking because it creates the capacity for one-to-many (broadcast) interface for video communication as against the traditional one-to-one video chat.

Videos recorded (by people in general) on cell phones provide crucial pieces of information wherever video surveillance is not available. Meerkat is ground breaking in the sense that it would now be possible to not only record but also broadcast the scene live. It’s low cost. It’s instantaneous. And, it just requires a reasonably fast (maybe 4G) Internet connection. 

Meerkat opens a new chapter of interesting possibilities to change the way a lot of things are currently done in various arenas. For example, tt may now be possible to conduct e-classes at a very nominal cost, where in the instructor could Meerkat his lecture and students could in turn, live tweet their questions. The instructors may use it to add personal touch in e-courses with Meerkat sessions with the participants. It may be used as an effective tool by public managers during disaster management for communication, trustworthy to people. Imagine, the Director of CDC Meerkating about steps to prevent Ebola or officials of FEMA Meerkating about Dos and Don’ts during an earthquake etc. One could Meerkat a live concert or the latest Hollywood blockbuster from the cinema hall! That would create a challenge for the government to put systems in place to protect copyrights.

Some say it will change the way the Presidential campaigns will be organized in 2016. Other say politics will change Meerkat and not vice versa. The possibilities are endless. It would also be interesting if one of our classes have a Meerkating experience.

Vikas Sheel

More on Meerkat - 

1. "What is Meerkat and Why Is Everyone Obsessed With It?" - Patricia Garcia, Vogue, 03/19/2015.

2. "Politics may make Meerkat, but Meerkat won't change politics much" - Katherine Miller, BuzzFeed News, 03/21/2015.

3. "Why Meerkat, the breakout app of SXSW, is more than a flash in the pan" - Caitlin McGarry, Macworld, 03/19/2015.

4. "Meerkat: What you Need to know About the Hottest App at SXSW" - Alyssa Newcomb, ABC News, 03/16/2015.

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