Live Web

Fall 2008
Thursdays 3:30 to 6:00
Room 447

Instructor: Shawn Van Every
Office Hours: Tuesdays 11 AM - 1 PM or by appointment
Office Hours Sign-up
Class Wiki
Delicious Tag liveweb


The World Wide Web has grown up to be a great platform for asynchronous communication such as email and message boards. More recently this has extended into media posting and sharing. With the rise of broadband, more powerful computers and the prevalence networked media devices, synchronous communications have become more viable. Streaming media, audio and video conference rooms and text based chat give us the ability to create content and services tailored to a live audience. During this course, we focus on the types of content and interaction that can be supported through these technologies as well as explore new concepts around participation with a live distributed audience. In this course, we look at new and existing platforms for live communication on the web. We leverage existing services and use Flash, PHP, AJAX and possibly Processing/Java to develop our own solutions. Experience with ActionScript/Flash, PHP/MySQL and HTML/ JavaScript are helpful but not required.


Grades will be determined according to the following breakdown:


It is expected that everyone in the class will create and maintain a blog for their assignments.

Be sure to enter your name, preferred email address and the URL to your blog (you can always edit this later) on the class wiki.


This class is very participatory in nature and discussions will certainly take place outside of the classroom. Along with the blog, one of the primary vehicles for these discussions (as well as administrative issues) will be the listserv.

Laptops and WiFi

I love having WiFi available and I think it is a valuable tool for use in the classroom. Unfortunately, it can very easily be a distraction as well. We are going to be exploring a variety of models for live interaction online and therefore laptops will prove very useful. We should though be courteous to one another and when we have outside guests, during discussion or student presentations laptops use should be curtailed.

Weekly Assignments

We will have weekly assignments that are relevant to material from the previous class. Due to the nature of the assignments, it is likely that you will want to work with other students as well as participate with the projects of your fellow students as "audience" members.


Attendance is mandatory. Please inform me via email if you are going to miss a class. Habitually showing up late for class or an excessive number of absences will adversely affect your grade.

Class Participation

As if I haven't said this enough. This class will be participatory, you are expected to participate in discussions and give feedback to other students both in class and participate with their projects. This (along with attendance) is 20% of your overall grade.

Storytelling Project

Starting on the 3rd class, we will have weekly student projects. I will divide the class up into groups and each week one or two groups will give a 15 minute storytelling demonstration utilizing technology from the previous class (chat, audio streaming, video streaming and so on). The topic of the demonstration will be decided on the first class.

Final Projects

This class will culminate final projects. It is expected that these will be both technology and content driven. Projects such as the development of a tool or a vehicle for live interaction will be considered but should be used in combination with content elements.


I do not as of yet have a list of books or websites that are suggested reading, instead please utilize the liveweb tag on I will be adding resources throughout the semester and I hope you will do the same.

Class Schedule

Class 1: Thursday, September 4

Introduction: History of Live Media (online and offline), What is the "live" web? Synchronous vs. Asynchronous and so on..
Read Chapter 4 of Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky (class handout)
Sign up for listserv
Enter blog and email on wiki
Explore IRC.. Try to tell your story to those who will listen.. Detail your experiences on your blog.

Class 2: Thursday, September 11

Chat: Web based, PHP 101, JavaScript 101 (AJAX), Jabber (IM) and Audience?
Using PHP, JavaScript and AJAX (and possibly Jabber), create an application which allows you to control and change the content that someone else is viewing on your site. Think something like you directing a slide show or taking them through different web pages.
Try out our OpenFire Jabber server. Have a chat with some friends.

Class 3: Thursday, September 18

Emulating Radio: Audio Streaming MP3, Icecast, Internet Radio
Develop a page with a Flash or QuickTime embed of a live Icecast stream. Perhaps add a chat interface and have some people come and have a listen.. Push it.. What can you do?
Investigate existing internet radio stations and give an impression on your blog regarding their level of interactivity/audience engagement and so on. (Checking out RAIN (the Radio and Internet Newsletter) might be a good place to start.)

Class 4: Thursday, September 25

Emulating TV: Video Streaming QuickTime, Flash, Network Models, Cameras, Encoders, Servers, Codecs..
Develop a page with a Flash or QuickTime embed of a live stream.
Investigate some uses of live streams online. What are they missing? What are they doing right? Write a quick blog post.

Class 5: Thursday, October 2

Involving Everyone: Two Way Audio/Video: Flash Media Server, Video Conferencing
Get up to speed with Flash connecting to the Flash Media Server and broadcasting/receiving video.
Come up with ideas to discuss in class next week related to the midterm. Post them to your blog.

Class 6: Thursday, October 9

Midterm Discussion Going Beyond: Streaming Other Data: Flash Media Server: Broadcasting Data: Whiteboard, Text
MIDTERM PROJECT: Work individually or in groups. We will do show and tell next week so be prepared with what the overall idea is, why you are doing it, be able to show the project in action and produce documentation on your blog.

Class 7: Thursday, October 16

Midterms Due

Class 8: Thursday, October 23

Review: AS3 in Flash
On the Go: Telephony: SMS
Assignment: Try out SMS notication with an online chat room or video conferencing setup. Get people to come and when you get a text join them, talk to them. Does it work?? What might be better??

Class 9: Thursday, October 30

Flash Media Server Review and More..
Guest: Max Haot, CEO of Mogulus
Assignment: Revisit what you were doing in Week 5 with live broadcasting using FMS. Make it work with your setup. Perhaps extend it to do more..

Class 10: Thursday, November 6

Streaming Devices: IP Cameras and Remote Control..
Come up with 2 final project ideas. Do a quick write up about each of them and post to your blog. Send an email with a link to the rest of the class for consideration. We will discuss in class next week.

Class 11: Thursday, November 13

Final Project Ideas
Additional Topics:
On the Go: Mobile Streaming
Prepare your final project proposal (in the form of a webpage or blog post)
It should include the following:
Project name or title
Short description, background and concept
References such as other software, applets, code, video, websites and so on.
Development plan: Pseudo code, diagram or other documents that you can start with
Link to it on the wiki

Class 12: Thursday, November 20

Final Project Proposals
Additinoal Topics: On the Go 2: Streaming from Asterisk
Telepresence and Representation: Avatars, Presence, Bots, Games, Virtual Worlds

Class 13: Thursday, December 4

Final Project Workshop

Class 14: Thursday, December 11

Final Project Presentations - Expect Guests