Nieman Foundation at Harvard
How Newslaundry worked with its users to make its journalism more accessible
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June 21, 2016, 12:28 p.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   June 21, 2016

Tumblr, misunderstood by its owner Yahoo, a trove for BuzzFeed, and the once-safe haven of weird teens all over the world, is opening up to live video.

Tumblr itself has been quiet about the development, save for several Tumblr posts at (first noticed by David Chartier and later reported on by TechCrunch). On Tuesday, it posted a formal update, announcing that by the end of the day users will be able to broadcast live “directly into your followers’ dashboards.” There’s no mention, of course, of Twitter’s Periscope, or of Facebook Live, where many are already live broadcasting.

We trust you all to be beautiful, weird, compelling, and just generally Tumblr about this whole thing.

Crucial details and compelling miscellany:
You can post live videos through YouNow (iOS, Android), Kanvas (iOS, Android), Upclose (iOS, Android) and YouTube (Android-ready right now, iOS-ready in a few days).
— They can be reblogged like any other post.
— They stick around after you shoot them, and can be enjoyed in the future as well as the present.
— We’ll notify you when anyone you follow goes live. And we’ll pin their video to the top of your dashboard.

There will also be some scheduled live programming, including “Opening remarks live from the surface of Mars” at 4:00 p.m. ET and a stunt “we will inflate a very big thing in a small room” at 4:30. Tumblr is also “working on producing dedicated content and events with a few partners, including MTV, Refinery29, The Huffington Post, and Mashable,” according to VentureBeat.

Twitter, too, announced some expanded video features on Tuesday. Video tweets, it said, “have increased by over 50 percent since the beginning of 2016,” and the new feature would, like Facebook, take the video-playing experience out of the stream and into its own video-after-video-after-video environment.

Video — including live video — is on everyone’s minds, for better or for worse (mostly worse). Mic’s Chris Altchek proclaims the site will be “majority video by next summer.” Last week a Facebook executive offered the prediction that the platform would likely be “all video” in five years. Mashable has burned through millions building out its video offerings, most recently acquiring YouTube channel Cinefix.

So is the future of #content all video, and is good old text dead? Not so, argues Tim Carmody (though he cautions that “maybe this is coming from deep within the literacy bubble”):

In short, all of the same technological advances that enable more and more video, audio, and immersive VR entertainment also enable more and more text. We will see more of all of them as the technological bottlenecks open up.

And text itself will get weirder, its properties less distinct, as it reflects new assumptions and possibilities borrowed from other tech and media. It already has! Text can be real-time, text can be ephemeral — text has taken on almost all of the attributes we always used to distinguish speech, but it’s still remained text. It’s still visual characters registered by the eye standing in for (and shaping its own) language.

Because nothing has proved as invincible as writing and literacy.

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