‘Explore the world through someone else’s eyes’ is the tagline for Periscope – the new live streaming video mobile app that was purchased by Twitter and subsequently launched in March of this year. The concept is a brilliant one that offers everyday users the ability to create and televise live their own content to a worldwide audience. Unlike traditional video production, the audience can give immediate feedback by awarding hearts and can post comments via Twitter, in real time about the content they are viewing. This is taking interactive to a new level with the creators claiming it may be ‘the closest thing to teleportation‘ and is possibly a new medium for reality TV. With so much potential content, how do we decide what to watch without having to ‘scope out’ each and every broadcast? Fortunately Periscope Reviews, which I have been following since its inception, has been created to ‘help reduce the amount of people we follow on Periscope’. Using Facebook as a platform, Periscope Reviews features popular Periscopers including a brief bio on the author and a link to their Periscope page.
The concept has developed over a period of weeks from the review being self hosted on a WordPress site to its current Facebook home. Facebook is an ideal platform for this type of review page due to the nature of its sharing construct. Anyway, why try to reinvent the wheel when its already been done for you. According to Tom Smith the future of content will be increasingly ‘bottom up and consumer driven‘ which is verified by the results of the Global Web Index pilot study conducted by Smith’s company Trendstream. Released in January 2009, the study indicated that
videos focused on users’ personal lives outpaced all professional content both in terms of passively viewing, where 41% had watched videos of user content in the last week, and also in the videos that were shared and uploaded
This further adds to the validity of the Periscope review concept and highlights it as being visionary and pre-emptive in recognising the benefit of having a review system for this new type of user generated content. The basic mechanism behind the review page was to give it a kick start by posting some interesting content, invite users to post their own reviews and hopefully encourage sharing of new content. The reviews were to be rated using the 5 star system. According to John Ciancutti who has worked on rating systems for Netflix, the chosen system should be seen as ‘an avenue for dialogue between your users and your service with a certain amount of investment by the users and an expectation that they will receive something in return’. This is key to curating a lively and successful review space.
The initial aims of the site were to reduce the number of people to follow on Periscope and that users would be able to source content that satisfied their interests as well as increasing Periscope’s following in Australia. Anticipated problems were listed as an unmanageable number of reviews being posted which could lead to organizational problems such as information overload which discourages reading as well as the inability to monitor hate comments. Adam Justice says that
the accepted rule [is] that reviews and feedback will almost exclusively come from users who either display extremely positive or extremely negative sentiments
Unfortunately, negative comments always appear to be taken more seriously than positive ones and this may affect the success of the site adversely however there is the possibility that a negativity bias, in some cases, may assist the aim of Periscope to become better known. Another aim of the site was to gain access to popular Periscoper’s fan pages by posting to their Facebook page.
At the Beta presentation of Periscope Reviews we were shown the project in its testing stage. The decision had been made to use Facebook as a platform (as opposed to a website) providing ease of access and increased exposure however, a problem that had been encountered from the outset was the difficulty of successfully engaging reviewers. The site had been made more interactive by the addition of a questionnaire as well as posting live videos of Periscoper’s content and photo catalogue of periscopers. A possibility of using Twitter and/or Reddit to increase exposure was put forward and it was pointed out that Twitter owned Periscope and Periscopers were known by their Twitter handle making this idea imperative. The question was asked ‘what makes a good Periscoper?’ The criteria for good Periscoping could be included in a side widget as a guide for reviewers. Other suggestions were to interact with live broadcasts and promote the review page whilst they are watching the live stream, and also to include a weekly focus which could highlight current news or what’s trending. The general consensus was that more of a critical and analytical approach needed to be adopted rather than the site being merely a taxonomy of content.
Only a few days have passed since the Beta presentation and at my last viewing of Periscope Reviews it appeared that #Skipforgood was being highlighted as a focus topic. Let us hope that this is the beginning of an upwards trajectory for Periscope Reviews.
Ciancutti, J 2011, ‘Is there a better alternative to the 5 star rating’, Quora, 28 November 2011, viewed 15 Oct 2014,<https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-better-alternative-to-the-5-star-rating-system>
Smith, Tom. “The social media revolution.” International journal of market research 51.4 (2009): 559-561.