Jun 29, 2016

Nancy Van House: Periscope, Congress and the aliveness of video

From the Berkeley Blog

Periscope, Congress and the aliveness of video

By Nancy Van House, professor emerita in the School of Information

A group of people sitting on the floor, many holding signs. One after another making speeches. People milling about. Some looking at their phones. On and off, chanting, call and response. But this time the men are in suits the women mostly in skirts and heels. (No doubt some wishing they had worn pants that day.) This was, of course, the Periscope broadcast of the sit-in by Democratic members of Congress June 19.

The Democratic congressional sit-in was an historic departure from the House’s rules and practices. But it was historic in another way. Live-streaming video on social media officially went mainstream....

In recent years, social media has been central to protests worldwide, including Arab Spring, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter, to name a few. Twitter and Facebook have received the most attention. Twitter in particular is invaluable for real-time reports from people on the ground.

Social media has been used to inform and coordinate participants, and to monitor and publicize the activities of the authorities. It has also been employed to show the rest of the world events from the perspective of demonstrators. Instead of professional journalists and institutions that tend toward simplifying the issues, with sound bites and attention-getting visuals like violence and vandalism, some of the participants themselves can speak directly to the public. The myth of the objective reporter has been replaced by an understanding of witnessing as political, and as a competition for the audience’s attention, trust and support....


Last updated:

October 4, 2016