Qik – a new software application which can be downloaded onto your phone – allows for real-time web streaming of whatever you’d like to capture. This means that anyone else can see exactly what you see as it is happening. The software is being ported for different platforms and will soon be available for the iPhone. I think that it’s a neat tool that can be used to get people to a certain location to promote a grassroots movement or to simply see something fascinating or unique.
I’m sure there will be future functionality to alert individuals when their peers are currently posting a new stream so that they can tune in. With an increasing number of web-enabled cell phones, they won’t need to run to the nearest desktop or laptop machine – they can just connect to the Internet and watch the stream on their handheld device and then make a decision if they want to go personally check it out. Furthermore, with optics continuing to improve and flash media capacities and data speeds continuing to increase on cell phones, we will soon have clear, non-jittery streams to watch.
As with any new communications technology, though, the potential for abuse is rife. For example, an unsuspecting student can be tricked into saying or doing something he wouldn’t normally do while his behavior is video recorded and broadcasted to distant peers tuning in. Though a stretch, blackmail and extortion can also happen in this setting, with a kid being bullied into compliance under the threat of being “outed” or publicly humiliated through this real-time video streaming. Gang violence or riots can also be mobilized as the beginnings of fistfights or looting can be broadcasted to summon friends to come and participate. These are just a few examples; I’m sure there are more.