Live Access to Talks Using Authorstream and Bambuser

Last week I gave a talk on “Event Amplification Using Social Media” at a meeting in which JISC Services discussed ways in which they could enhance the effectiveness of their services using social media.

As one might expect for a talk on event amplification the two presentations given at the meeting were themselves amplified.  The meeting, which explored ways of  “Integrating social media with other on and offline media“, began with a talk on “Social Services” which was given by Steve Boneham of Netskills.

Following my suggestion that we should look to evaluate ways in which the presentation of speakers’ slides could be made accessible to a remote audience Steve made his slides available on Authorstream. Although this appears to be a clone of the  better known Slideshare service it provides richer functionality (e.g. supporting transitional effects) and, of particular relevance in the context of event amplification, allows specific slides to be displayed to a remote audience using the Present Live option.

I used this facility during Steve’s talk which meant that there was a context to accompanying the Twitter discussion.  However it was only later during my talk, when there was a larger audience which had been alerted to the amplified event on Twitter, that there were sufficient numbers for their to be an active discussion about the talk – and the strengths and weaknesses of use of a slide sharing service such as Authorstream.

An additional reason for the larger audience was that during my talk I was also streaming the video and audio using the Bambuser video streaming service. This was done by running Bambuser on a cheap Advent netbook PC and using the netbook’s built-in Webcam and microphone.

Video of Brian Kelly's talkAs well as being streamed live a copy of the video was kept and can be accessed on the Bambuser Web site in part 1 and part two. According to the statistics there were 22 views of the first part of the live video stream and 19 of the second part.

Note that if you view these videos you may be disappointed by the sound quality. However, as discussed below, this experiment was intended to demonstrate lightweight approaches to event amplification and identify simple ways to improve the experiences for a remote audience.  One way of enhancing the quality would be to use a better microphone – and a simple way of worsening the experience for the remote audience would be to not provide a live video stream of the talk!

Timeshifting Using Panopto

In addition to the experiments in use of Authorstream and Banmbuser to enrich the experience for a live audience the event also provided an opportunity to explore ways of enhancing access for those who were unable to participate in the live experience which happened between 10.00 and 11.15 on Wednesday 20 October.

A screencast of a rehearsal of the talk was captured using the Panopto lecture capture service. The rehearsal was made on Monday 4 October 2010.

As can be seen from the screen shot the software captures a video image and the relevant slide. In addition all the slides are bookmarked, allowing end users to move directly to any slide – in the image below I jumped forward to the slide on Amplifying In (2) which started 14 minutes 52 seconds into the presentation.


You shouldn’t really give a talk on amplified events without amplifying the talk itself, so this event provided an ideal opportunity to try out some new approaches.

In addition to the technologies described above I should also mention how these technologies were used and the people who were online pharmacy canada involved.  During my talk Steve Boneham was logged in to my Authorstream account and moved the slides on during my talk as well as participating in the discussions which took place in the Authorstream environment. We can regard Steve as acting as the local event amplifier, enriching the experience for the remote audience by providing a context (the individual slides) to the video stream and online discussions.

Meanwhile Kirsty Pitkin was watching the video stream remotely and was summarising my talk – as opposed to Steve who was engaged in discussions which arose from my talk. This experiment therefore provided a useful opportunity to make use of a local and remote event amplifier and to compare the different approaches which event amplifiers may take in engaging with a remote audience.

The discussions which took place in the Authorstream environment were separate from those which took place on the Twitter stream and could only be viewed by those who had logged on to Authorstream.  This meant there was a fragmentation of the discussions which can be regarded as unfortunate, or a useful feature, which ensures that an individual’s Twitter stream does not annoy others with large numbers of event-related tweets (this latter perspective may reflect the views of those who prefer use of a dedicated event live stream tools such as Coveritlive).

However it did not appear possible to easily  create an archive of the discussions in Authorstream.  We therefore copied the discussions and subsequently made them available on the UKOLN Web site.

As might be expected the initial discussions covered ways in which the live streaming in Authorstream worked. However there was also a discussion on the ways of enriching the experiences with Andy Powell commenting that “think there’s also a role for someone to simply ‘host’ the virtual side of the event – a virtual chair if you like eventamplifier“.

Andy also pointed out that “this is a good example of where the amplified discussion has become fractured across authorstream and twitter“. This is very true. Indeed if you look at the TwapperKeeper archive for the event’s hashtag and the Summarizr statistics (taken from the day before to the day after the event) you’ll see that there were 101 tweets from 16 people, compared to the five people who were using Authorstream (although it should be noted the latter channel was only available for about an hour).

What Next?

As the costs of face-to-face events become more  apparent I think there will be an increasing pressure for the sector to make use of online technologies to support or, in some cases, replace  face-to-face meetings. In light of this I feel it will be important to develop expertise in use of technologies (and best practices which are independent of the technologies used) which can be used to support the functions of meetings and events.

For high profile events this might entail use of dedicated event amplification technologies. However, as I have tried to illustrate in this post, sometimes simple solutions can be used, including use of free software running on cheap hardware or software which may be available within out institutions.

Recording rehearsals of talks might be a way of gaining expertise in such technologies, as well as providing a backup in case of illness or difficulties in attending an event.  And such recordings can also enhance the impact and reduce the marginal costs of presentations which have traditionally only been available to a live audience.  But although these benefits may be self-evident a bigger question will be the business model for providing such services. Who, if anyone, should pay?