My work with educational technologies the past few years has convinced me we have entered the “publish at will” era of information sharing. This means (to me) that anyone with a computer and Internet connection can publish their thoughts via different modalities (text, audio, and video) for a global audience– without incurring additional expenses. This type of democratized publishing power would surely have been incomprehensible to social change leaders of previous centuries, from Martin Luther to Thomas Paine. That conviction was further strengthened today by my introduction to Ustream.TV by Michael Kelly. According to the website:

Ustream is a platform that provides live interactive video for everyone. Anyone with a camera and an Internet connection can use Ustream to broadcast to a global audience.

Can you say, “disruptive technology?”

I know some folks who are really into twitter, but I can’t say I entirely understand the psychology behind that technology use. I already share a large number of ideas online most days via my blog and my social bookmarks, and I’m not sure what the value would be of letting people know what I’m doing each moment of the day. Along the same line, I don’t have any desire to put “my life on the web” all day long. I want to continue to share ideas, but I want to be selective in that process. It could be interesting as an experiment (especially if I could be online and mobile, via a cell phone wireless card) to have a “day on the web,” but I don’t think I’d want to do that frequently.

Lots of relatively expensive technologies are available for publishing and archiving video to the web. What is amazing about Ustream is that it’s free: Anyone with a webcam, microphone, computer and Internet connection can broadcast “live on the web” to a global audience. Unbelievable.

Currently on the Ustream homepage, Ronald Lewis is lifecasting. While I don’t have a desire to “lifecast,” I am intrigued by the learning potential available here. The WikiPedia entry for Life cast is less than a month old and not very developed yet. It defines Life cast as:

A life cast is a constant broadcast of a person’s life through digital media. Typically life casts are broadcasted or “life casted” through the medium of the Internet.

Full disclosure: I actually made a few edits to this definition myself. 🙂

Is there value for live webcasting in education? Certainly, and groups like WorldBridges have been exploring those possibilities for some time. I think we’ll likely hear more about “lifecasting” in the mainstream media the same way we’ve heard about blogs: People who want to journal and share the details of their everyday life with a global audience. Yet that view of live webcasting will only be part of the story, just as definitions of “blogs” as “online diaries” fall short of a more comprehensive and accurate definition.

If you want to check out Michael Kelly’s Ustream coming from Charlottesville, Virginia, it’s available along with several others on Steve Whitaker’s website.

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  • I was introduced to UStream.TV by my husband who is part of the Technology Evangelist team. They do a daily podcast but have recently started to stream the podcast live on Ustream in addition to the posted recording. It is a fantastic way to get their listeners to “join the conversation” and ask questions, especially when they are doing live interviews. A few weeks ago they live-streamed their road trip to the Killer Apps Expo as well as sessions and interviews at the event. My personal thought is that distance education finally became affordable with technologies such as Ustream and TalkShoe, allowing listeners to join in and respond!

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  • Rob

    Being LIVE seems to be a popular trend lately. I’ve seen sites like http://www.mystreams.tv It’s lifecasting with a social networking twist.

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