As hurricane Gustav approaches the Louisiana coastline, including New Orleans, some folks are sharing the view from their location via Ustream.tv, a website that allows anyone to stream live video from their computer for free. At any given time, there are hundreds of live streams and thousands of archived events available. Just search for a term such as Gustav or Hurricane. Here's a live view from Slidell, Louisiana (at least, until these people lose their power or internet service).
Streaming live video by Ustream
Sites like Ustream, blipTV, Mogulus, Kyte, and Justin.tv provide a remarkable opportunity for anyone to broadcast live events with little more than their computer and webcam (which is becoming a ubiquitous integrated option with laptops). This new platform empowers individuals and organizations to broadcast their message to a global audience--for free. For example, I saw dozens of churches broadcasting their Sunday morning services live on Ustream this morning. The Obama campaign has been simulcasting live campaign events on Ustream for months, and I've seen people like Bernie Dodge share conference presentations in real time along with an integrated chat that creates a powerful backchannel to engage people both locally and at a distance. Now, Qik.com even makes it possible to stream such live video from many cell phones!
This is a truly an amazing new platform which has emerged over the past couple of years--one that many will embrace and some will find quite threatening or intimidating. Personally, I can't wait to see who starts using it next and how it transforms the way we communicate with each other.