Spontaneous Togetherness Blog

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Just after DLD celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the Huffington Post, the next panel celebrated the 10 week anniversary of the live streaming app Meerkat, the app that has launched into the stratosphere just a few months ago. Near the end of February Rubin, one person in San Francisco, and eight more in Israel had six experiments they were working on as they found themselves halfway through the 4 million dollars that were invested in them. One of these experiments, Meerkat, was completed in eight weeks and then launched on the site Product Hunt. Since then, their community on the app and their presence at the SXSW festival has put an astounding amount of attention on the app.

Rubin reflected that people understand what a good photo looks like. For the past 120 years or so we have been working with both analog and digital photography and it is clear as to what great photos from not great photos look like. But, nobody knows what a good live stream looks like. We are just starting the vocabulary of “that is a good stream.”

One of the biggest discussions surrounding Meerkat is that the live streaming takes place via Twitter. Recently, Twitter has launched their own live streaming service Periscope, and has removed Meerkat’s access to their graph. Hempel asks Rubin if knowing that he would be pulled from Twitter, if it was the right thing to launch on there, and Rubin quickly responded with, “you would probably talk to someone else if we didn’t do it that way.” Rubin explained that it was the right decision to launch on Twitter, and that the only thing they did wrong is the amount of time they gave Meerkat notice.

But regardless of the chaos and drama of the competitive Silicon Valley landscape, Meerkat sees a bright future ahead. They have just launched a developer API, and slowly they plan to release requests to their servers to the developer community. More broadly, Meerkat wishes to change the way people interact with each other virtually. Because everyone walks around with connected cameras and screens, people feel comfortable with the virtual culture. "This is the first time the content of video is changing materially, it’s no longer video, but participatory media where audience is taking part in watching the content, and the audience is the content.”

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