What Periscope needs to become the future of social media

Yesterday, I took an Uber ride somewhere in Utah, accompanied a startup in Austin during their lunch break and left San Francisco by ferry. All thanks to Periscope, a new app from Twitter.

Periscope allows anyone to share what they see and hear, using real time video. It’s personal, easy to use and incredibly addictive (hello reality TV of the future), but is it here to stay?

The app was reportedly bought by Twitter for around $100M, and the timing couldn’t be better. Meerkat, a similar app for sharing live video streams on Twitter, was successfully launched at SXSW earlier this month and was already gaining steam:

So far, everyone seems to love this new trend: people sharing their lives through their phones (only iPhones for now) with other random people. There has already been at least one interesting use case: a building in New York exploded yesterday and several people used Periscope to share the news.

Owen Williams, from The Next Web, wrote an interesting article where he evaluates the implications of this new kind of media tool: uninformed casual streamers suddenly converted into reporters. While I agree with him on the fact that with great power comes great responsibility,  I don’t think that concern about live video is very different to what we experience today with people reporting live news with tweets: no one should use any form of social media as their only source of indisputable truth.

The more interesting question: is Periscope (and Meerkat) a temporary thing or the future of media consumption? I’d say the latter, but there is a very important piece missing: search functionality.

If you open the app today, you will see the latest live streams (periscopes?) and even replay those previously published by the people you follow. But what if you want to see only periscopes streaming from Spain? or what if you’d like to see all periscopes streaming from #famouseventname?

For now, you can use the almighty Twitter search engine to find periscopes about your topic of interest; you have to deal with noise, but it works. At the end of the day though, without a seamless way of discovering relevant live video streams, these tools won’t become anything more than a cute entertaining toy.

Image via Periscope

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