This week, I experimented further with livestreaming and documented an hour-long Rare Grooves presentation at ITP using Google Hangout on Air. My experience with this service was very different from my trials with UStream, LiveStream, and Wirecast last week, mainly due to Google’s interface.
Hangouts on the Air basically broadcasts a Google Hangout directly to YouTube. As the broadcaster, I had the opportunity to switch between the various people involved in the hangout, but I could not switch camera inputs on my own computer. Google Hangouts also allow for screen sharing, which would be useful if the presenter was logged in and enabled that feature. However, we were doing mostly physical presentations at Rare Grooves, so a screen share was not necessary.
We did have a handful of people logged in during the lecture, and there was a bit of activity in the chat log. However, Google also didn’t allow us to save that conversation or embed it anywhere once the hangout was finished. This is one of the main reasons I don’t think I’ll be using Google Hangouts in the future – the backchannel had some very interesting questions and points that could have been addressed later.
Since Rare Grooves isn’t really a formal presentation atmosphere, there were parts of the lecture that dragged a bit, and parts that could have used supplemental links and notes that weren’t available at the time. I first chose to explore YouTube annotations, but quickly found that I could only link to other YouTube videos or Google links.
In order to link to outside resources, I moved to Popcorn.JS and discovered the Mozilla Popcorn Webmaker. This interface was SUPER easy to use, though limited in style and customization.
I linked to my video and was able to quickly annotate it with links, images, search results, and even skip many of the uninformative sections. Within an hour, I had an embeddable video with much more information than was originally available.
Combined with Ryan Bartley’s chat service, the annotated lectures could provide a live platform for people to discuss and provide feedback on any lecture topic.