Is it right to “Meerkat” a funeral service? Yes, I used Meerkat as a verb. A friend asked me how to live stream a family member’s funeral service so that family and friends who were not able to attend in person could be there via the stream. Meerkat has been a top-of-mind social media platform for me lately, so it immediately came to mind as a possible solution for sharing the live stream of the service. But let me put the question to you! Should he use the Meerkat app on his phone to stream the funeral service to his Twitter followers?
That question begs another, “How many of his family members and friends would be following him on Twitter and would know how to download the app and click in to the live stream?” The answer would be “not many” if it were my own family. So far, I’m the only one besides my hubby, Scott Greeson, @scottgreeson2, in my immediate family who uses Twitter. A couple of my family members have accounts but they aren’t active.
Does Meerkat work on iOS and Android?
Another point to note is that the app only works for streaming from iOS devices currently. There is an app for watching Meerkat streams from other devices, but if you want to host a live stream with Meerkat, you need to be on an iOS device. You would also want to be aware of your data usage while streaming. Live streaming is a data hog.
Where were you when you first learned about Meerkat?
Meerkat started rearing it’s Meerkat head around me this spring, and then I saw it used by Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) during Social Media Marketing World 2015 in San Diego, Calif. He asked a friend to Meerkat his presentation in a concurrent session.
Meerkat is promoted as a service that you use to catch something being shared by a Meerkat user live as it’s happening. If you stream an event with Meerkat, it will immediately post a link along with your event description in your Twitter feed for your Twitter followers to see. If you follow the link in Twitter that is provided for the stream after an event has ended, you get a message, “Stream Over.” When you start a new stream, Meerkat will also send a notice to anyone following you in the Meerkat app.
What are people streaming in Meerkat?
Keyword searches in the Meerkat app will take you to about anything you might like to view from someone feeding their cat to a professor delivering a lecture to your favorite comedian interviewing people in a bar. I haven’t searched on “funeral service” yet, so I’m going to put down this blog post and go check that out.
Results: No. I didn’t find anything under the search “funeral service” or “funeral.” I did find a live stream of a guy named Mitchell who is streaming his drive to Chicago at the time of this writing. There are 29 people on his stream watching his drive and asking him questions via the chat feature. He comments live, “I’m just streaming for the hell of it.” He apparently has his iPhone in a holder on his dashboard. It scares me to report that he’s also eating a sandwich while reading the questions from his followers that appear at the bottom of the video frame. The quality of the video is pretty amazing on my iPhone 6 Plus, but the stream is cutting in and out. I’m getting a message on the app, “Stream will resume once connection strengthens.”
If you’re thinking about posting a question or comment to someone doing a live stream in Meerkat, keep in mind that your post will appear as a tweet in your Twitter feed. If you’re the one doing the live streaming in Meerkat, let me suggest that you not do so while operating a motor vehicle!
Question: Can I record my Meerkat stream?
I recently watched a Meerkat stream that had been recorded as video and placed on Youtube, so obviously, there is a way to catch a stream for eternity. I was curious about how the Meerkat stream had been recorded, so I went back to the tweet containing the link I had followed to the YouTube video. I found the #katch hashtag had been used. That is a service that can be used by your followers to request a video capture of your Meerkat live stream. It then provides you with a YouTube URL to provide to your following so that they can see the recording of the stream long after the event has taken place. You, as the creator of the Meerkat, would get a tweet about the video recording request that you can approve or deny.
If you know right at the outset that you would like to have the live stream captured as a video and placed on YouTube, you can put the #katch hashtag in your stream description in Meerkat. At the time of this writing, the YouTube videos of Meerkat streams that were caught by #katch are unlisted so you wouldn’t find them on random strolls through YouTube. I wonder if that will change in the future?
I tried this feature when doing a live stream of an instructor giving out homework assignment instructions. I included the #katch hashtag in my stream description, and sure enough, a YouTube video (unlisted) was created and the link was provided to me. I put the link to the YouTube video in the online course management system, so the students could easily refer to the instructions given in class.
What are your thoughts about Meerkat streams being recorded and put on YouTube? It does take away the sense of urgency for getting on the stream while the event is taking place. Note: You can save your stream to your device by tapping a button in the app at the end of your stream.
Traditional Video Recording vs. Meerkat or Live Streaming
Live streaming an event with Meerkat, or one of its competitors such as Twitter’s Periscope, is a different approach to sharing content than formally recording an event, doing edits to the recording and making a file available. You also aren’t hindered by the six-second limit of Vine videos in Twitter or the 15-second limit of videos in Instagram. In Meerkat, you can stream as long as you’d like, or for however long followers are willing to watch you!
Here are a few of the differences between traditional video production and live streaming:
|Video Recording in the Traditional Way||Live Streaming With Meerkat|
|Involves planning such as storyboarding||Involves very little planning unless you want to schedule and promote a live stream|
|Involves thought-out recording equipment and lighting||Involves taking out your phone, opening an app like Meerkat and pushing the stream button|
|Involves editing and post production||Does not permit editing or post production|
|Involves uploading of large files to a host site||Followers just watch your stream via the app and don’t need to access stored files|
|Viewers are not actively engaged with the host during the recording||Viewers can type questions or comments to be addressed by the host during the live stream|
|Video files can be made accessible indefinitely||Live stream video is not available once the event is over and the stream ends (Unless the #katch hashtag is used in the stream description which sends the stream to a YouTube video file. See www.twitter.com/katchkats or @katchkats on Twitter for more detail.)|
Can You Use Meerkat in Education?
Let me bring this back to thoughts on the educational use of a live stream. Instructors can do a live stream with Meerkat of their lecture and give distance students opportunity to be “in the classroom.” From an audio standpoint, you would want to be close enough to your phone for it to pick up your voice. If a student asks a question, I would recommend repeating the question so that the people on your feed could hear what is being asked. But I have to say I was amazed at the ability of my iPhone 6 Plus to pick up voices of students in a classroom who were 20 or more feet away from my device when they were speaking. I don’t mean for this to sound like an iPhone 6 Plus commercial. It’s simply my only point of reference for these tests.
You could assure your audio quality and have more freedom to move about your classroom if you used a lavalier mic that had a phone connection. Here is just one example of a lavalier mic that would work for this purpose. This is the Rode Smartlav available through Amazon. (the graphic below is an affiliate link)
College students responses to questions about Meerkat
When I asked a group of graduate students if they had seen a Meerkat stream, none of them were familiar with it yet. The question was posed on April 3, 2015. I predict that responses will be different in another month or two.
The point they immediately brought up was a concern about intellectual property being streamed. Hmm. What are your thoughts on that one? I don’t think that intellectual property should be broadcast in a classroom unless students or other listeners have signed a non-disclosure agreement before attending the session. In that case, maybe the lecturer should also ask that phones and other mobile recording devices should be either turned off or turned in for safe storage before the lecture begins. I can’t imagine that going over very well.
I see a lot of potential for educational uses of Meerkat for live streaming of how-to video; for live streaming a help session before an exam; for better connecting with online students. The possibilities seem endless to this instructional designer!
I’m really curious about your thoughts on some of the ideas and questions I’ve posted in this article. Livestreaming of funerals. Livestreaming of classroom lectures. Capturing livestreaming as video on YouTube. So many topics to discuss! And believe me, I don’t claim to have the answers. But I’d sure enjoy chatting about the subject with you. Please add your comment below!