Tuesday, August 07, 2007

uStream.tv and the Rise of the New "ME"dia

Yesterday afternoon, during a break and momentary lull at work, I received a Twitter tweet or twit (or announcement, for those Twitter uninitiated among us) from Greg Willits, one half of the husband and wife team behind the podcast Rosary Army and videocast That Catholic Show.

Greg informed his subscribers (or followers in Twitter parlance) that he and his wife, Jennifer, were about to record an episode of their podcast live on ustream.tv, a new live video streaming website where anyone with a webcam and microphone can broadcast a show over the Web.

Clicking on the ustream.tv link provided, I soon saw Greg and Jennifer broadcasting live from their home studio, a renovated walk-in closet affectionately known as the Cloffice. Sure enough, they were recording an upcoming episode of their Rosary Army podcast.

I had to tune out several times to respond to work-related questions, so I could not listen and watch the entire recording. By the time I returned to the video, Greg and Jennifer had finished recording their show but remained on screen to chat with viewers, dishing out the latest news and updates on their upcoming projects. According to the ustream.tv screen, there were 34 people watching and a few chatting. A small interested community were glued to their ustream.tv screen watching two Web 2.0 broadcasters doing a fairly good job at broadcasting.

Just then, I had a "a-ha" moment. I have been fascinated with content creation and delivery mechanisms since 2003 when I saw how the entertainment world was divided into content creators (actors, directors, musicians, artists) and content deliverers (production studios, film distributors, music companies, cable companies).

Fast-forward to 2007 with the rise of YouTube and ustream.tv and other user-generated content websites and you see how the entertainment model is spreading across the social spectrum. No longer are content creators and content creation confined to some studio lot in Hollywood or record company in LA or New York. No longer is the usual content deliverers the only route. Content creators now have the Web to distribute their content.

Granted, the advent of blogging and the mainstreaming of the blogosphere have shown us the influence of the new content creators and the power of the Web to distribute content.

But now something new is emerging, I believe: It is the emergence of communities surrounding these blogs, podcasts, videocasts, etc. And by communities I do not necessarily mean fan groups or user groups. I mean--thanks in part to RSS, the iPod and other mp3 devices--there is intimacy between the content creator and the consumer and levels of participation and creativity unseen before between content creator and content consumer.

The user-generated content world is still in its infancy, still focused on the juvenile "Me" of new media (like Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year) and still bedeviled by content plagerism and outright content theft, and grilled by the quesiton, Who exactly is earning money off my content?

But look beyond these details for a moment and one will see taking root inside the new "me"dia a florishing community of "us"ers.

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.