My participation in ds106 is getting a lot less linear as assignments come and go and I continue to grab hold of that which catches my interest. That's not to say I'm not participating, far from it. I'm 2 days in to the Daily Shoot project and I'm thinking I'll probably recap each week of photos here on the blog instead of a post every day since I'm using Flickr for the photo uploading. However the most recent madness of the past 2 days has been the birth of ds106.tv.Just 2 weeks ago Grant Potter created a revolution in and of itself by starting a radio station driven completely by user submissions, then adding in live streams of folks doing everything from DJing sets to recording ambient noise in their environment. The result has been nothing short of viral and continues to blow many minds, mine included. I enjoy tuning in when I have a spare moment. Being a visual person I began to wonder if the ideas of ds106radio could be incorporated into a TV format, something that could show off all the great visual work that has already been created and the firehose of content yet to come as we head into the design and video segments of ds106. After some hemming and hawing with myself and wondering out loud, a comment by Tom Woodward on NoiseProfessor's blog finally gave me the kick in the ass I needed: "Let's stop talking and do this." Choosing the platform to use was going to be the most difficult. Video is heavy in bandwidth and resources. It's difficult to do mobile, and expensive to host and stream. That's a lot of hurdles. But there are a few options out there that work with ads driving their low cost (indeed free) offerings. I chose Livestream for ds106.tv because of the following features, some of which I had envisioned for what ds106.tv could be and others I never could have imagined possible:
- Offline Video Rotation - Basically I wanted this to act as a continuous stream of video content related to ds106. You turn it on, it's starts playing wherever it is. Everyone is watching the same thing you are.
- Live Streaming - The ability to be able to broadcast from a computer to ds106.tv was also something I considered a must-have. Skype sessions with the face-to-face UMW classes were becoming common and in general giving folks a soapbox is a part of what ds106 is about.
- Auto-feed Content - The ability to pull videos from an RSS feed and automatically add them to the offline rotation is a feature Livestream can do, I just haven't made it work yet. But it's one of the things I think is going to be inherently useful as this takes off.
- Mobile Broadcasting - Not too long ago Livestream purchased Qik and made the ability to broadcast from many different types of smartphones a reality. This is beyond awesome and I tested it the other day just driving to the store. Open the app, hit a button, and I'm broadcasting live on ds106.tv. Insane.
- Desktop Screencasting - The Procaster software Livestream freely offers has a great screencapture capability as well as built-in soundmixer. With just a few clicks I was able to take a portion of my screen and broadcast it live using the sound from my computer speakers and muting the internal mic (as well as adjust audio levels and monitor). I envision this will be great for actually having folks come on the broadcast and do tutorials on how they're accomplishing mashups, design ideas, and other complex processes that make for lengthy blog posts.
- On-Demand Video Library - The ability to not only watch ds106.tv in realtime but to jump back and watch an episode of something that aired previously (all broadcasts are automatically recorded and added to the library) or pull up any number of user videos makes it like a personal DVR of course content. Although the free account has limited storage (10GB/month) we haven't even come close to hitting that wall.
- Realtime Chat - A small feature but one that could help keep the Twitter stream from becoming overwhelmed with these types of sideprojects. Also will be useful for backchannel chat during live broadcasts (which the person doing the broadcast can easily monitor and respond).
Where I'm at now
I registered the official ds106.tv domain (my first .tv domain! Exciting!) and threw Wordpress on there. Found a decent clean template to use and played with the embed functions of Livestream to get a good layout for the homepage. I've also started adding some instructions on how folks can get involved and be a part of it. I spent the good part of yesterday morning scraping YouTube and Vimeo links to get actual videos for just about everything folks have submitted up until this point and put that into the library. It's about an hour of content, so we've got quite a bit of room to grow. ### Where I want to be
I need to streamline the process of getting and inserting videos into the playlist. The manual work is worth it, but if I can make use of RSS storyboards to automatically insert these things even better. I'm also brainstorming various ways I can start broadcasting content (and seriously any and all are welcome to join, just follow the directions here). I went ahead and registered a Twitter account with plans to try and automate a way of notifying users when a live stream is happening (or anything that's happening really) ala Aaron. And the big (huge) elephant in the room is the obnoxious ad reels. The beauty of all this at the price of free comes at a cost of time and inconvenience. The ads are difficult, they interrupt the flow of things, and they're pretty intrusive. The cost to remove them is also insane ($350/month or $3,500/year). So I don't really have any clear answers to that issue for now. If anyone has any financiers looking to prop up a compelling project for a few months on the hopes of riding the coattails of this revolution to further fame, I'm all for it. The art....we're still making it, damnit!