Tag Archives: c-span

Online Video – Livestreaming

To stay on the streaming theme, let’s take a quick break from audio and look at streaming video.

What Is It?

Livestreaming video is similar to internet radio: video is broadcast live and in real time over the internet. Anyone with an internet connection can visit a website and watch video coming live from somewhere else. Concerts, family reunions, government meetings, conferences, political protests, breaking news stories, television programs – any of these can be streamed as they happen.

Livestream and UStream are two of the biggest services that host live streams for individuals or organizations. YouTube also provides livestreaming for anyone with a YouTube account.

How Is It Useful?

Just like internet radio, streaming video is useful because it lets you watch events live while they’re happening from wherever you are. Whether you’re in front of a television, a computer or a mobile device, you can watch a White House press conference or meeting or state legislatures doing their daily business. Television stations can livestream their video feeds: C-SPAN and WHDH Boston both offer live programming online.

In entertainment, bands can choose to livestream their concerts to let fans who can’t make it to the show watch and listen. Similarly, clubs and concert halls can offer livestreams for the performances they host.

Finally, businesses use livestreaming in many ways: international companies can livestream important meetings to employees around the globe; large companies like Apple can livestream important announcements about their products; and conferences can be livestreamed to anyone who can’t attend (O’Reilly Media and the E3 Gamer conference are two examples).

Yes, there are sillier uses for livestreaming: watching baby squirrels or puppies may seem ridiculous, but the same tool is used for watching wildlife. Imagine students around the world keeping track of life at South African water holes or hawks nesting on a building in New York City (the hawks are gone for the season, but you can watch recorded video at this same page). Science class suddenly becomes a lot more real for kids who might not ever see these animals up close any other way.

Try It Out

Follow any of the links above and just watch the livestream for a while (the water hole is a good one for this). Better still, keep your eyes out for the words “watch us live online” for any event or concert you want to attend, or on a website you visit.

Resources

Online Audio – Podcasts

Unlike online video and photos, online audio comes in a few different forms. We’ll look at each of them in the next few weeks of Learning for Life Online.

What Is It?

Podcasts are audio broadcasts used to spread the word across the social web. Podcasts are created by professionals, amateurs or anyone with access to a computer and a microphone, and can be on any topic under the sun.

What makes podcasts different is that new podcasts usually come out daily or weekly, with a changing topic or guest speaker. You can subscribe to podcasts through a service like iTunes or through your RSS feed reader, or listen to the cast directly at its site.

As a note, podcasts are different than streaming audio or internet radio. Podcasts have distinct starting and ending points, while streaming audio flows like a river of sound. Our next post will discuss streaming audio online.

How Is It Useful?

Podcasts are a great way to get news updates, to listen to a weekly show, and keep your music updated and fresh. Most importantly, once you’ve subscribed to a podcast, it comes to you automatically as it comes out – you don’t need to keep going and getting the latest episode yourself.

One of the most natural podcast sources is radio. NPR’s podcast directory is a testament to the continuing appeal of well-created audio-only news and entertainment. Find other sources of radio podcasts at PublicRadioFan.com or using your favorite search engine.

Speaking of radio, have you ever heard of live radio dramas? Before television, these terrifying or hysterically funny shows were audio-only entertainment on radio stations around the world, full of special sound effects and live music. Thanks to the internet, they’ve made a comeback in the form of podcasts. Local to Boston, the Post Meridian Radio Players bring live radio drama to the air with its science fiction series The Mask of Inanna and its stage and studio horror performances of Tomes of Terror and p.m..

Other podcasts from traditional media include Nature magazine, the New York Times, PodMed (the Johns Hopkins Medicine News Roundup), C-Span, BusinessWeek and Sesame Street!

If you enjoy running for exercise or for fun, check out the Podrunner podcats from DJ Steve Boyett. These weekly podcasts feature free music mixes for an hour of workout time, either for running or interval training. You can subscribe to Podrunner directly through iTunes or another service, or use the new iPhone/iTouch app to get to the music directly.

Try It Out

How do you find all of these podcasts?

  • Ask friends, family or coworkers to recommend podcasts about topics you have in common.
  • See if your favorite news/entertainment/educational station has podcasts available on its website.
  • If you use iTunes, just click on the Podcasts tab in the iTunes Store to find thousands of possibilities.
  • Search a podcast directory site such as Podcast Alley, Podcast Bunker or Podcast.com to look for podcasts on particular subjects.
  • If all that fails, use your favorite search engine to look for “a subject of your choice” AND “podcast” and you’ll turn up more results than you’d thought possible. For instance, check out a podcast on hockey, knitting or travel.

Help & Resources