Blab.im is dead. Google Hangouts on Air sits precariously between G+ and YouTube. What is going on in the wonderful world of multi-person live streaming conversational web apps?
If you didn’t already know about L&D Talk, I’ll give you the basics. I started a daily live streaming show that ran for an hour monday thru friday at 8am PT. We used blab.im to make it happen. It was the presence of blab.im that gave me the idea/confidence to try a daily show. It was just so darn easy, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.
The L&D Talk Unicorn
L&D Talk grew from being just me and the random internet troll, to some days having more than 20 viewers watching the live stream. The best part was that the stream was automatically recorded and upload able to YouTube. You could hang out live with your L&D peers discussing the topics of the day and also end up with recorded content for others to view later…or repeatedly.
The show started with just me and grew to having a different theme each day with a different cohost. We also had some fantastic guests like Gus Prestera, Matt Pierce from Techsmith, commoncraft creator Lee Lefever, and more. We created hours and hours of great content since February when I started this experiment. And now we are starting over.
We learned a lot over the last few months and reflect on all the pros and cons going forward. But that’s not the real issue here. The most enlightening part of this experience was how it felt. It was the same feeling I had when I started elearndev.blogspot.com in 2005. Collaborating, sharing, and learning, with a global audience is an amazing feeling. L&D Talk at times had representation from Canada, US, Australia, and the UK all in one show. And that wasn’t planned other than everyone just knowing that I would be there each day at 8am Pacific Time. I loved what blab allowed me to do more than I loved blab itself. I loved the connections with other L&D professionals.
Tech is at its best when it brings people together from all over the world.
Now What Happens?
You never really know how much you love something until it’s gone. I now know how much I loved blab.im. A lot more than I originally thought. Now the lack of blab has left a giant hole in the world of live streaming/recorded video production world. Google just hasn’t quite figured out their strategy yet. It sort of works, but the lag is annoying. Facebook Live is currently just one-way video with text chat. As is Periscope.
There are plenty of multi-camera shoot apps that allow you to mix multiple cameras or source feeds that are on the same network, but that is a different kind of production. Wirecast is a good example. And as far as I know maybe these also allow for source feeds like Skype or other off site feeds. But these are expensive complex solutions compared to the elegant simplicity of clicking a link to join the blab, and clicking one more to be live on camera with other people. It was braindead simple. And it just worked…most of the time.
If I was a venture capitalist, or knew anything about ramping up a product I’d want to buy/license the tech backend and just sell it as a white label platform to those who saw the real value. Not the “we like to hang out with each other” value the blab team is chasing. However, I’m an old guy. So I’m certain they know something I don’t know about how to monetize a bunch of drunk, stoned, and horny, millennials. I do know that this demographic is not that interested in learning, so my search for a platform continues.
The value I’m interested in is using the platform to quickly and easily stream/record conversations! The professional possibilities for a platform like blab are endless. I understand the desire for entrepreneurs to create “the thing” that will be the next billion user app, the next Facebook, the next Snapchat. But there must be a way to monetize this type of platform in a B2B market.
Many will point me to Zoom. And we’re testing it out. But it’s designed to be used for corporate meetings, like webinar software. Ouch… hello 2001 tech. We may end up using it for L&D Talk but it feels a lot like cramming the square peg in the round hole. This week are testing YouTube Live. And so far that feels like a very small round peg fitting into a very large round hole. It fits. But it’s not a perfect fit.
We’ve had an experience with blab that may have been before its time. But I see it as a window into the future. I have no doubt that the platform I’m looking for will exist. Its just going to take some time.