Future in the next post, because every future starts with now and here
It is 2021, the world is still battling a pandemic, the freedom to choose is becoming an imperative of unprecedented scope closely followed by the censoring, politically righteous, virtue signaling, all in all, everything is happening regardless of the consequences because carpe diem — there is only the here and now in the collective consciousness of grabbing the opportunities, the world goes on and the internet certainly continues a trajectory alongside humans that initially mean well, but in the whirlwind of changes sometimes get lost and this is a story, a reflection on this trajectory that live streaming is on, and the pillars leading to today when it has to redefine itself in order to justify its existence.
Live streaming is a medium that entered some years ago, even decades, during the reign of TV and it somehow always ended up being an uncomfortable side product, until possibly the later years when the concept of open sourcing infiltrated the society along with the reign of Internet that took over the world and transformed the access to information, universalized the access to knowledge even against and despite all the gate keepers, and now we have to find ourselves again in this newly found freedom of information floating all around creating the sea with only a few islands. Our place, as humanity against the place the technology (technium as Kevin Kelly defined) is taking, who is the dominant and who is the submissive partner in this never ending game that unquestionably and inevitably propels the world forward?
It is the question that remains to be answered and it will take many years to answer a question like this. However, in the meantime we must put some focus on or rather the spotlight on the potential of live streaming, the good and the bad and consider the future of the medium that has the potential to change our everyday life and hasn’t yet reached this potential because the society at large has to change, will it change? Probably not in a few years, however with the pandemic locking us within the four walls of whatever and wherever those four walls might be, the increased need for home schooling, the increased hours spent in front of screens, large and small, we find ourselves in the midst of alienation, everything seems available and yet, as the traditional media has migrated into the social media which Naval Ravikant very wisely put in the tweet the other day
With all of the inevitable changes above, there is a real danger of alienation, we are already experiencing this with young people having trouble identifying their center, their purpose and finding the energy to keep going. The attention industry doesn’t really have a vision other than generating as many numbers as is possible and all of this is consumed, while the hours get consumed in entertaining moments before the screen and the inner emptiness expands as increasingly those entertaining moments are tailored to serve the attention economy, the highest bidder and in general this is very analogues to the trajectory that sometimes referred as troubadour music, nowadays popular music when speaking to the masses has degraded in quality to the most simplicity but the greatest effect, in other words, psychology, one of the most powerful branches of the tree of knowledge has been cleverly used to determine the easiest and the most digestible consumerism of the great number of people and presented it undoubtfully with great success in the numbers, metrics, however the same amount of consequences in terms of the damages. Here is a scientific article published some years ago that considers popular music in this context https://www.academia.edu/14205239/Measuring_the_Evolution_of_Contemporary_Western_Popular_Music but of course this applies to every genre from the entertainment spectrum, such as movies. Depending on the industrial/commercial and under the conductor’s baton from the entire team of psychology, so many movies from Hollywood production have found themselves squeezed out by the new, internet based, much more real or even fantastical, as 3D is universalizing what some time ago was only available to the big studios, in other words Hollywood is eating itself out of it’s own existence in the last years as it is being replaced.
Revisiting the thought of alienation that becomes the side effect of the above, we arrive at the concept of live streaming again after a few diversions but necessary as they are parallel and converge with the concept of “entertaining” through truthfulness, or rather a potential that the medium carries but is still not executed because the time is just at the point of becoming ripe for it and it certainly requires a dose of idealism, just enough to be able to bypass the all consuming chase with numbers, serving the masses, and “entertaining” for the sake of it.
Let’s start from the beginning, not the ultimate but the internet-based beginning when live streaming came to the pedestal. We all remember the hype that as ever the tech community first adopted and then it spread like a wildfire across the fields as the shiny promise of the ease to celebrity was beckoning for the early adopters, first through the app called Meerkat soon after followed by Periscope that ate Meerkat for breakfast with Twitter buying it and later integrating. Nothing strange there because that is just the way it is, the nature of the animal kingdom, the bigger fish eats the small one and the investors follow the safety that the scale produces while at the same time signaling virtue. Alas, today or rather almost a month ago, Periscope announced the app was shutting down
It has exhausted in it’s own power, launching with the idealism of the great new medium, a next Instagram but it didn’t quite achieve this simply because the time is not ripe enough, the society needs the genuine that only the live streaming has the potential to give, but it has to be lead, and Periscope failed in this mission, it was unable to lead, it let itself be lead by the numbers, just like a stream that starts at the top of the mountain and is gradually lead downhill by the gravity, Periscope was taking the easiest way possible, just like the psychologists did with music industry and movie industry, following the crowd, closing the eyes to many things that shouldn’t have been the part of the creation, oversimplifying in order to people please, focusing only on the numbers and not surprisingly Periscope found itself at the bottom of the mountain from which point it was impossible to go against gravity and venture back up. There were many opposing forces at play and it is no wonder that while Twitter took on the technology and integrated it as a protocol for it’s own live streaming purposes, again geared toward large production medias, it kept Periscope on autopilot, until it couldn’t see the purpose any longer in keeping it alive.
While there were many live streaming platforms that have emerged since, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, everyone integrated it as an option to free float and to be used at will, with many startups that failed, most notably and of those that didn’t fail maybe the most embraced of which was Twitch, however somewhat difficult to use, technology intense and possibly adopted mostly by the tech community (which is huge by now so it gives the illusion of numbers) and centered around gaming, live streaming as a concept however remained on the periphery.
It is a phenomenon really, but it is very logical at the same time. The world was introduced to the concept of real, unedited streaming (although unedited is questionable when we think about large production in any capacity) for example through reality shows that focus on TV generating massive popularity. This popularity however burnt like a log that has just sufficient energy to keep it going through the Lindy effect and we are back at the beginning to think about what exactly live streaming is and how to approach it. Is it an expression of the time past, a source of generating the eye balls through entertainment and inevitable degrading of the quality of content that proves the most profitable and adopted to the greatest number of eyes again risking the risk of finding itself at the bottom of the mountain just like those before, or something else? I think that it is something else, that we have to detach from the old values of numbers and generating the destructive type of entertainment at the level of both investors and creators, because this is a magical circle of a snake eating it’s own tail, and only then when we realize the real potential live streaming can bring, can we start adopting it at large.
At this point we arrive at the app that I think may have this potential, because just as the tree grows from the seed, and before the seed can sprout and grow into a tree, it has to have a complete integrity of it’s DNA with defined steps and ideology, and I was very happy to see that in the sea of apps especially the ones emerging to take on the eyes that Periscope is abandoning, www.happs.tv was the only one with the vision, truthful reporting, genuine sharing of the voices promoting content that is educational and uplifting, very importantly giving the voice to the voiceless and, most importantly, building everything on the foundation of a strong community, creating the spirit that appeals to the human values, rather than the metrics and the emptiness of light entertainment that benefits in the short term but damages in the long as we have seen with the case of music but also more closely related in Periscope’s life and impending death.
It seems to me that we are at the crossroads right now. At one end we have TikTok taking the world by storm, the ultimate attention grabbing, attention shortening machine with the most powerful algorithm that knows, sees and hears, and thus adjusts the viewing experience in the right doses to be capturing already culturally decreased attention, and devour the time of the users in hours of little snippets of entertainment. I can’t say or judge any of this as being entirely bad because once the algorithm is consciously guided by the self aware user, it can bring in the snippet of education and knowledge, but the question mark stays in it’s own nature, snippet. As homo sapiens, are we designed to enjoy snippets, to develop the attention span of a goldfish, which according to some scientific articles may have been happening under certain conditions, actually numerous research papers are centered around this topic https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21549742/ and how technology is changing us. The most universal question remains though, and it is as follows: did we develop as a species practicing the short term focus, short term goals, easiest steps to the tree full of fruits, the easiest steps to capturing an animal more powerful than self? Yes, the answer is yes, but only short term, at the level of problem solving that required quick thinking and a pragmatic attitude to life.
Long term over a lengthier stretch of time, what really shines through historical literature (although there should be more insight into the short term, the way of life,…etc but that is a topic for another post), is that it was the visionary goals, idealistic notions that truly pushed the simple problem solver called Homo Sapiens, into the civilization that we are all sharing today. It was those steps of a visionary nature that created the great works of art, the enlightenment of science and propelled the awareness towards the most human of the values, the idealism of humanity, to give voice to the voiceless, to create the space from which everyone can progress within their particular field of interest, to make education and thus thirst for knowledge available for everyone. These are the values that today in a technology powered, psychology manipulated world we are living in, that we have to facilitate, and the only way we can do this is through transparency that the internet enables, in particular, through live streaming. To be continued about my vision and projection of the future of live streaming and how it might evolve in the following years, decades,….
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