So, in the last week I have had three days of crippled computer, a big honking snowstorm and now jury duty. Is this any way for someone to actually be productive? Turns out, yes!
First things first. It snowed. In Boston. In March. Shocker. But it turns out it was a pretty good thing for NECN.com and our weather blog, Weather New England. First of all, it’s never bad to have bad weather when it comes to web traffic. But we also tried to pull out at least a couple of stops when it came to our coverage, and I think we found a map for the future. One, what can you say about Matt Noyes, who started basically a solo livestream at 4am while preparing for the morning show, let me join in to help in the AM, and took questions from viewers online in between weather hits for NECN television. It lasted 7 hours, and he didn’t take a break.
But the live stream is a great tool for someone like Matt and a topic like weather. We used Mogulus, and asked people to both ask questions they might have (as long as they were patient about getting answers), or to share their snow totals and observations as heavy snow moved up from southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, through the Boston area and into New Hampshire. We got dozens of reports – as well as a handful of others which we
begged for asked for on Twitter. it was engaging, entertaining, and something we should do again.
And for the second time – we got a surprise amount of enthusiasm for something that to us seemed really sort of obvious, as in “what do you mean this hasn’t been done much before?”
Video blogger and all-around good person Steve Garfield and I were able to set up a livestream from his cellphone of Steve going outside and measuring the snow depth in his Boston neighborhood. Using a decidedly low-tech ruler to check the depth, he took his measurement while the crowd watching the Mogulus stream saw him full-frame, and the crowd watching NECN saw it in an embedded window on a web browser on TV. (Next time, I will remember to take him fullscreen.) it was quick, it was kind of fun, and it seemed to make a splash, getting noted in a few places – thanks to Steve, not me, I should point out.
But the main thing I take away from the whole event was that w can be so locked into old ways of doing things that even the easiest ideas can seem much harder than they should. Cost of the chat – $0, except for the willingness of Matt to tackle the challenge of talking about the weather, which is what he does for a living. People have a lot greater tolerance for ‘dead air’ in a live chat, so Matt was able to get his TV work done, answer questions and work in a much more casual format.
And the technical breakthrough with Steve Garfield live? That took a little more technical know-how, but we weren’t reinventing the television station. In fact, our biggest limitation may have been the bandwidth needed to get the streams in and out of NECN and Mogulus. We barely scratched the surface, and I look forward to trying it again. In a day and age when television stations are beginning to use Skype for broadcast live shots, and $200 cameras can shoot HD-quality video, our biggest obstacles are often our own creative limitations.
Bring on more snow! We want to try this again! (Well, maybe we can find another worthwhile event in warmer weather.)