Sunday, August 30, 2015

Up Periscope

by Drew Martin
A couple years ago I looked into the url availability of periscope for a cartoon I did about a submarine but is used by a creative agency. My favorite social media app now is Periscope at, which uses the .tv domain country code of Tuvalu that the company dotTV operates and is 20% owned by the country.

Periscope, if you have not been on it, is a live video streaming app purchased by Twitter for $100ish million in March 2015. 
Ironically, despite the big purchase @periscope is still the Twitter handle for the agency, with @periscopetv for the app.

My first encounter with Periscope was last week at an app meetup party on the rooftop Monarch in Midtown Manhattan for The Vane fashion/weather app and the TWIP like-minded peple travel app. I was there as the UX/UI designer for another app that is being developed. Covering the scene was Vicki Winters (@MyBigFatMouth), a youthful 58-year-old scoper with unbound energy who never missed a beat.

Later that night I stripped the replay video of us from Periscope and checked out the app. The possibilities and functionality of Periscope make other apps such as Snapchat look like old typewriters. At any moment you can scan the world for who is broadcasting and you can text-comment on the live video and tap the screen of your phone to send hearts to the scoper, which appear in the color of an overlay on your profile picture during the broadcast. There are never more than a couple dozen broadcasts going on from each continent at any one time so it is pretty easy to manage the world view. Additionally, the zoom function is pretty smart by how it shows the number of broadcasts in a region but then splits up into more specific places as you zoom in.

You can follow a scoper, and are alerted when they start their broadcast. The US and Brazil have the most live broadcasts from the Americas (Canada is almost nonexistent) and several countries in Europe are using it. Surprisingly, there is a big turnout in Russia, Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula.

Unfortunately most of the broadcasts from the farther flung regions are just a person, typically a young woman, staring at the screen while men swarm in, like spermatozoa around an unfertilized egg. They text lewd things, the most innocent of which is the hilariously bad English command, open boobs, in hopes that the lady with flash the phone camera. The goodnight broadcasts of young women get the most ogling eyes. One that I watched last night of a naked-ish Swedish woman under her duvet saw viewers go from 0 to 1.6K + in a matter of seconds. That being said, n
o matter how mindless a broadcast, seeing someone's kitchen or bedroom in Baku or Astana is still fascinating.

After watching a lot of crap, I realized that Vicki Winters was really on it and I am glad she introduced me to Periscope. Perhaps the app will wallow in the more senseless broadcasts but there are a few that I watched that caught my eye. One of the more casual broadcasts that I really liked was by Christian Tido, a college student out of Cameroon, who claims the broadcast I tuned in to was the first Periscope feed out of Africa. He and his friend, a cool young lady, fielded questions and endured silly comments as they looked out over his balcony to a nice neighborhood, and gave a brief tour of his house (upon my request). 

Periscope, because it is owned by Twitter, uses your Twitter ID. Christian's profile @tidochrys has the tagline "Hey, let's just all share the same eye!" followed by a little, Africa-prominent world emoji.

By far the scoper that I absolutely love the most and think is the best one out there in terms of the give and take is an early 30's American woman, Lauren, from Scottsdale, Arizona who has been living in Japan for the past 11 years as a high school English teacher. She shares a small flat in Yokohama with her Japanese husband Ryuji, two dogs and a cat. Lauren (JPUS Lauren USJP @starkodama) has been broadcasting regularly for the past month. Sometimes she gives Japanese lessons (her Japanese is excellent) or she might just spend the time talking about a subject such as HULU in Japan. There are also shorter broadcasts where she will take a walk around her neighborhood or let us join her as she walks to meet Ryuji after work. My favorite broadcasts (I have only seen two of this type - the first of which got me hooked) is where Ryuji sits off to the side with a dry erase board while Lauren fields requests from the viewers of what he should draw. Their chemistry is great, and the drawings are laugh-out-loud funny.

Aside from the topics and personality of Lauren's broadcasts, what I like most is her dexterity with the medium and the new talent it requires, which is all about covering her theme while constantly and cheerfully greeting the viewers as they join, and commenting on the rapid-fire texts that pop up. She is a pro at engaging the viewer and diffusing any erotic comments with her quick wit that turns the poke into a joke. That being said, she has the most respectful group of followers I have ever seen. 

On one broadcast Lauren calls Jiro (of Jiro Dreams of Sushian asshat for misogynistic comments he has made (like he does not hire women because their hands are too hot and also they cannot properly taste sushi when they are menstruating - which Lauren jokes that her hands are always cold, and that Jiro's own taste must be affected by his heavy smoking). A minute later she complains that she wants to take off her sweater but that her tank top underneath is too boobiliscious. With a viewer's suggestion, she titles the following broadcast #boobilisciousasshat.