Dear Geeky Universe…

They say that you don’t usually get what you want unless you ask for it.

I’d say you could take that axiom and add “or unless you build it yourself” on the end of it and you’ll get the psychology that makes technology startups and entrepreneurs tick.

You don’t get what you want unless you ask for it or build it yourself.

I’m not an entrepreneur, however, so that second part is not really my bailiwick. I used to try and ‘build it myself’ but then I realized that I’m the sort who has dozens of unfinished projects cluttering up my basement, my garage, and my hard-drive. I have ideas but they seldom get past the initial architecting phase.

Ten years after I took the top end off of my 1968 Triumph T100C as part of its restoration process, I realized that the top was still off of it, covered in dust, and unlikely to spontaneously restore itself… so I sold it to someone who was a “doer” and I’m sure it is much happier being on the road these days since he restored it.

So the bike is on the road again… Where is this going?

My point in giving the above example is that I’m the sort who would rather see something done right than to profit from it myself. If I’m not going to do it, it shouldn’t just sit in my garage being a great “wouldn’t that have been something?” idea.

So I’m going to put this out there in the hopes that someone who is a ‘doer’ sees it and realizes where it can go and builds it so I can use it. If they also happen to make a zillion dollars? Well, yeah, buy me dinner some night and let me in on your beta.

What I need/want/wish someone would build and why

There are a lot of systems that come close out there – but none that actually addresses this need in full.

Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to help Erin Kotecki Vest (also known as Queen of Spain from her very popular blog and @QueenofSpain on Twitter) by trying to facilitate the first couple episodes of her fledgling web show.

Now Erin has years of broadcast experience and is very good at doing what she does. She’s a great interviewer and host – and both guests and audiences have a great time whenever she’s interacting with them. That said, any web show is only as good as its platform. If the show crashes every 5 minutes, loses guests, dies of lag… that’s all anyone remembers about it.

What I’ve been trying to do is help with the moderating, the technical issues, the general ‘stuff a production assistant does’ in most broadcast fields. But we’ve discovered that none of the services presently available for doing this actually have all the functionality that would make the show sail along smoothly.

Last night, after crashing one time too many on Stickam.com, Erin’s show moved to the Yahoo!Live platform (still in beta) and after the past couple of weeks of frustration – we started discussing what we needed and trying to figure out who might provide it. We looked at ustream, at non-webpage solutions like ooVoo and Skype, and a handful of other things people messaged me with. All of which are great at what they are doing, but none of which currently offers all the things we were looking for.

The List

What we keep talking about is a service that allows Erin (or anyone) to broadcast a produced, realtime, webcam show with guests that allows for audience participation. Features we need:

  • Main video feed – this larger window is for the show host
  • Additional video feed windows – these smaller windows allow the host to pull video &/or audio feeds from the guests – preferably 4 or more – with individual volume controls and controlled access.
  • Chat room – real-time chatroom that allows for large numbers of text interactions
  • Dual Moderator capabilities – both host and ‘producer’ should be able to moderate fully – with the ability to enable feeds, boot people from chat room, enable recording, and open/close room. Additionally text in chat window should be differently formatted for moderator & host.
  • Recording – the ability to record the entirety of the show – not just the host window, but also the other feeds & chat – for future playback.
  • Private messaging – separate window chat messaging which can be turned on/off/blocked by chatters (so that host/guests don’t get PMd by random chat room folks)
  • Audio Line between Host & ‘producer’ – so that producer can speak with host, but not necessarily heard in general broadcast.
  • Stability – if the host gets disconnected, the room needs to persist unless the producer also gets disconnected so that audience is not lost if there are connectivity issues.
  • Webpage/URL permanence and video hosting – the problem with a lot of solutions is that they require software downloads on the part of the audience. This has to function like a ‘web television’ show. Post a link, click on it during broadcast time, see the video and join the chat. Also, saved sessions need to be accessible from the show’s main page.

That’s the “must-haves” the “nice to haves but can be implemented down the road” include:

  • Calendar scheduling – it’s a nice thing, but not needed immediately.
  • Scripted Text – for both the host and the producer, the ability to post things to the chat room that are pre-scripted so that messages can be repeated easily.
  • Question Queues – it would be fabulous to have the chat room be able to click on an “Ask a question” button that queues up the text questions in order and is viewable by host & producer but can be ‘passed’ or ‘deleted’ as well.
  • Custom ‘Homepage’ Design – obviously, people like to ‘brand’ their shows… down the road that would be a premium service. In fact, many of the ‘nice to haves’ could be premium options.

Why build it and What do you get out of it?

Okay honestly, it’s not that hard to see that Bloggers picked up podcasting, and podcasters are now experimenting with Video shows. And I don’t mean Video podcasts that are edited and slick and professional. I mean live shows that are interactive, dynamic, and unpredictable. But just because it’s live doesn’t mean it should look like it was done in someones garage.

Video Podcasts are the 60 minutes of the Internet – the news magazine format. What we’re talking about here are Live Shows – the Oprahs and Merv Griffins of tomorrow.

But it’s one of those “if you build it they will come” propositions. If you’ve got the platform that makes it easy, manageable, and smooth – you’ll also get the names… and their audiences.

The monetizing is obvious – because you’ve already got the room for advertising in the webpage format… you can also create the premium options – and professional accounts.

Are you still with me?

If you are can you help me out here? Either be the guy with the vision and the ability to implement it – or be the guy that funds it – or be the guy that is dying to code it. And if you aren’t any of those guys? Could you be the guy that helps me get this out there? Because it will seriously make the experience better for the rest of us.

For all of the potential hosts, producers, guests, and audience members – can we maybe shoot for the moon?

I know I’d be willing to take the time to pound out details and beta it if I can be of any help. But I want first shot at playing with it! After all I’m putting it out there and asking nicely.

Dear Geeky Universe – can I have a turnkey professional webcam interactive talkshow solution – please?

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~ by Lucretia on April 28, 2008.

20 Responses to “Dear Geeky Universe…”

  1. ooVoo?

  2. +1 – I’d like to use a system like this too. :)

  3. @BarbaraKB – there’s a link above for ooVoo – it’s a great new service that allows up to 6 people in a videochat – they seriously rock.
    I was exposed to them during the MyOovooDay event they threw for the Frozen Pea Fund.

    See this entry:
    https://geekmommy.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/my-oovoo-experience/
    for a more in-depth review.

  4. One thing I feel should be added to the primary list is reasonable accomodation for the accessibility needs of hosts and listeners / viewers with disabilities. Thanks.

  5. @iThinkMedia – yay!! one more person willing for it!

    @Darrell – you are absolutely correct. I should’ve included that! But I think that’s something that ought to be designed in conjunction with those who understand those needs better than I do!!

  6. If I were the one who ran the universe, I’d give it to you…last night was frustrating!

    As it is, I’ll spread the word.

  7. have you looked at http://www.castfire.com/?
    they work with boingboing tv, kcrw, cnet etc. and might be
    altruistic enough to support you and Queen of Spain (aka Erin)

    :O)
    ophelia

  8. I want you to have this so I am twittering it and passing out to universe as well. I Know I will need this in the not so distant future!

  9. […] patrickmcgee wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptQuestion Queues – it would be fabulous to have the chat room be able to click on an “Ask a question” button that queues up the text questions in order and is viewable by host & producer but can be ‘passed’ or ‘deleted’ as well. … […]

  10. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptCalendar scheduling – it’sa nice thing, but not needed immediately. Scripted Text – for both the host and the producer, the ability to post things to the chat room that are pre-scripted so that messages can be repeated easily. … […]

  11. @Christine @Trish – thanks… I really think there is a need for it.
    Some folks have gotten close – but there’s a difference between being on the coding/design side and being on the use side.
    These are user-need/audience need tools.
    Hopefully someone in the universe will listen! :)

    @ophelia – thanks… I’ll pass that along to Erin!

  12. I really do love the poll at Ustream. I have no idea why, other than it amuses me. However I wish we could have more than 2 guests at a time.

    Would love to talk with ooVoo about it all…

  13. How funny! I was just talking with a friend of mine about a system her husband is working on that does the video aspect of what you are looking for. He has developed the entire platform on open source software, which means that it will be near free (minus web hosting costs, bandwidth, etc.) I’ll have to send him your blog.

  14. @QofS – yep, will definitely ping them back on what they are suggesting – my only hesitation with ooVoo is the requirement of software download and install…

    @jaredude – thanks for passing it along! We’d be happy to look at open source solutions (actually, I’m a huge open source advocate) so please have your friend give it a look! :)

  15. i agree there is a real need for these platforms to stabilize and bulk up in their abilities (and scalabilities). blogtv.com IMHO has a LOT of the features you ask for, but only one guest at a time.

    operator 11 had quite a few, but went belly up. i imagine these services are pretty hard to build robustly, so my gut tells me you want an existing company to bulk up its offerings, not another new start-from-scratch create-&-fix-NEW-bugs kind of a thing.

    i would definitely talk with Andy from PulverTV and Scott Stead from Jonny’s Partay about their experiences producing those two shows.

    i agree that my main concern with ooVoo is the downloaded client. for a successful live show, you need people to be able to jump in on impulse. the other big missing piece is: only participants, no audience. is audience possible now? i like ooVoo for virtual networking, small “meeting-ish” sessions, mastermind groups, etc., but would not think of it for a show.

    good luck. this space definitely needs some organized attention.

  16. @Laura – thanks for taking the time to write that out – your thoughts are REALLY appreciated – especially with the stuff you are moving into with MediaCasters!
    I will make a point of hunting down Andy & Scott – the biggest thing w/ Andy tho is iirc, he’s in studio w/ Jeff et al, so that makes it a bit more of an “old-fashioned” production environment, soundboards and all… whereas I think there’s going to be a need for virtual/remote production in the long run.

    But hey – when you want advice, go to the guys who are already doing it right! :)

    Thanks again!!

  17. Confession: I’ve spent very little time participating in these live, interactive talkshows, and I have no technical skills or money to invest to help you get it started…

    but I’m certainly intrigued… and get what you guys are looking for.

    What I can contribute, is spreading the world among my little universe… I guess that’s what we all need to do… start tweeting, blogging, and talking about how “great it would be if…” Isn’t that how the NEXT BIG THING usually comes about? With enough of it, something will rise up out of the dust of chatter.

    Good luck and let me know how I can help!

  18. […] winifredsblog5671 wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWebpage/URL permanence and video hosting – the problem with a lot of solutions is that they require software downloads on the part of the audience. This has to function like a ‘web television’ show. Post a link, click on it during … […]

  19. I think it is going to have to be one of the established webbased sites (or a new one) that incorporates some or all of this.

    Hosting a turnkey program yourself would be great for ‘taped’ show, given you have great bandwidth throughput and solid processing. But for a Live Show, it hits the problems of processor power and bandwidth in/out for video ‘conference’ and then the combined out again for normal viewers (that’s alot of video bandwidth).

    The best way to get things implemented would be to start lobbying them directly. On Twitter:
    @ustreamtv – Ustream.TV
    @ylive – Yahoo!Live
    These two interact enough to get some hopes up.
    @stickam seems to be placeholder account, and not useful if it is them. I do not see any others.

    Forum posts and feedback emails are always good too. Some get read.

    Good ole fashioned bitch, plead, and petition, or get yourself your own T-1 line specifically for video like @leolaporte ended up doing for TWiT Live ;)

  20. I’m working on something similar but not the video recording part as yet, letting others with the backends, bandwidth and investors to do that.

    When it is ready i’ll let you know! :)

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