I may be a little late to this party, but I’m truly, truly enjoying the trend in making conferences and specialized presentations available using real-time video feeds. In fact, just today I was able to watch two outstanding presentations — all from the comfort of my office chair. The Berkman Center at Harvard University’s Law School presented Lokman Tsui’s “Beyond Objectivity: Global Voices and the Future of Journalism.” At the same time, I was also monitoring the Computers Freedom & Privacy Conference 2009.
As much as I enjoyed (actually, as I’m writing this.. ‘am enjoying’) the presentations, it was actually the “process” of how these video conferences were being presented that really got the gears in my mind to churning. There were some subtle differences that I noticed between Berkman’s proprietary and more established presentation model versus the UStream or Twazzup’s generic model. In fact, I’m so excited about the potential of using online video streaming and mashup sites, that I’m going to see if I can get some of the organizations that I’m a member of to try this type of presentation in the near future.
Berkman Center Model:
The Berkman Center’s method of presentation is an older and more established method of presenting video on the Web. I haven’t talked with anyone at the Berkman Center on what they use for their video presentations, but it is pretty apparent they are using Macs and Quicktime on the backend. They also allow you to ‘chat’ via IRC (and if you know what IRC is, you probably also have a copy of Led Zepplin IV on real-to-real). And, for the true uber-techie… you can also jump into your Second Life character and interact with others watching the presentation.
The Berkman model is one that many of us have seen for years. Although they’ve included the IRC and Second Life methods of chatting with other online watchers, but overall this is the standard model we’ve known as online video feeds.
The UStream or Twazzup Model:
The ‘newer’ model of mashing up video and web 2.0 tools used by UStream is a method that really appeals to my idea of what an online presentation can be. You not only get the video and audio feed of the presentation, you also get some value added products from the others watching the feed, and a chance to chime in with your comments or questions. I specifically like the Twazzup model which combines the Twitter comments (via designated hash tag), additional ‘keywords’, data on the speakers, the popular links that people are adding to their tweets, and who are the people contributing the most to the conference twitter feed.
I’ve noticed that the CFP09 conference did an excellent job of making the audience go up to the mic to ask their questions, and also made a good effort to answer or comment on questions that came in via Twitter. One thing that I’d like to see from conferences use streaming video, is an additional window that shows the overhead information that is projected on the screen behind the speakers. UStream also places advertising from time to time at the bottom of the video feed.
I took a few screenshots of the Berkman and UStream presentations to show some of the esthetic differences. Also, take a look at a related post we did a few weeks ago on the dilution of message using these presentation methods.
The Berkman Presentation

The Berkman Presentation Video w/i PPT Presentation

The “Oblong” Table Discussion (note the blogging & twittering!)

The Questions *no mics for audience*

The Answers
The UStream or Twazzup Model

Video Feed

Twitter Search w/Trending Words

Real-Time Tweets

Speaker Info (I’m not sure this really works!)

Links that people are Tweeting

Twitter Contributors

Questions from the Audience (notice the mic!)

Ads!! (Hey, UStream has to make money, right?)