AUSTIN, Texas — If you weren’t able to be at this morning’s South by Southwest talk on flying cars, either because you aren’t at SXSW or because you were not in the room, you could still have tuned in to hear about how we may all one day be able to convert our cars into planes.
If you look at Twitter during big conferences like South by Southwest, there’s always a fair number of tweets from people who are clearly jealous not to be there. But thanks to live-streaming apps like Meerkat, it is suddenly increasingly possible for outsiders to check out what has previously only been available to badge-holders.
One of the trends during SXSW has been people using Meerkat to live-stream panels and other sessions. If you go to this link, you can see an ongoing list of people posting streams from one talk or another. Many, of course, will have stopped streaming by the time you click through — a common problem given the ephemeral nature of Meerkat posts. And the video and audio quality is not great.
But what we’re seeing is the beginning of what I’d imagine will be a sea change in the way events like SXSW are broadcast to the world.
Some of us who have been coming to SXSW for years have long wished the event was live streamed. And some sessions are. But for the most part, if you’re not in the room, you’re out of luck. The same is true at countless other trade shows, conventions, and events.
But as long as people have connectivity, they are going to be able to post live streams, and this means that those without badges can join the party. It also is a possible solution to a common problem at events like SXSW: multiple talks that you’re interested in at the same time. In the past, you had to choose. Now, perhaps, you could go to one, and watch a live-stream of another (assuming someone is there and bothering to post).
It will be interesting to see how conference organizers respond to this new dynamic, since it does remove some of the exclusivity. And that may make them happy, since it can potentially broaden the appeal of their events with no additional cost. But either way, it seems that there’s little they can do about it.
The question is: Will people watch these streams? Only time will tell.