Download the handout for my live-streamed paper on Serres and alterity this coming Tuesday

If you are planning to follow my live-streamed paper on Michel Serres and alterity on Periscope this coming Tuesday, you might want to download the handout that will be distributed to seminar participants. Here it is:

The handout contains fourteen quotations and two diagrams to which I will refer in the course of the paper.

During the paper itself you can make comments and ask questions here.

Reflections on live streaming academic papers with remote Q&A

First of all, some good news: Deakin have given me the go-ahead to live stream my seminar on Michel Serres next Tuesday. Thank you Daniela!

This morning I tested streaming live video in Twitter and discovered a few things that you might find useful if you’re planning to tune in (as we used to say in the olden days). If you just want to know how to ask questions and make comments next Tuesday, scroll down to the bold type towards the end of this post. If you are interested in streaming live talks yourself, then I’ve included all my working which, I hope, can save you some time and frustration.

  • You don’t have to follow me on Twitter, or indeed have a Twitter account at all, to watch the live video.
  • To watch on Twitter, just navigate to https://twitter.com/drchriswatkin. The video should appear in my feed.
  • Twitter doesn’t update immediately, so if you think the stream should be live and you can’t see it, refresh the page.
  • You can watch the video directly in Twitter, and it looks like this (apologies to the 3 viewers who were subjected to the rather uninspiring sight me fumbling around this morning testing the video!):

  • During the broadcast itself you can also click on an icon in the bottom right of the stream in Twitter to go full screen. If you do so, you are taken to Periscope and you get a screen like this:

  • The tricky part is how to integrate interaction with the remote audience. Making a comment in Twitter (the red circle on the bottom left in the screenshot below) has two restrictions: 1) you need a Twitter account, and 2) your comment is restricted to 140 characters. Not great. Messaging me (the box on the right) has no character limit but 1) you can’t see others’ questions, 2) you can’t see my answers to others’ questions, and… 3) you need a Twitter account.
  • You can also make comments and ask questions in the fullscreen Periscope version of the broadcast, but this also has two clear disadvantages: 1) you need to be signed in to Periscope (though you can use your Twitter, Facebook of Google accounts if you want, so no extra account details or passwords are needed) and 2) the comments fade away after about 5 seconds, so if I’m not looking directly at the screen when you post a comment or a question, chances are I will miss it.
  • You could just tweet me directly @DrChrisWatkin, but then you need a Twitter account which, again, not everyone has, and, once more, you’re restricted to 140 characters.
  • During my test there was a lag of a good 20-30 seconds between the video being recorded and the stream appearing on Twitter, so any two-way audio contact between the room and the remote viewers would be impracticable using this method.
  • So here’s my solution. On the day I’ll have a Q&A during and straight after the talk at pollev.com/chriswatkin288. It will look like this:

At the end of the talk I’ll try to deal with all the questions and comments I can, though I think it will be right to address questions from people in the room first. If I don’t get time for particular questions or comments during the Q&A I will try to respond to them after the event, through christopherwatkin.com.

  • Why I chose this solution:
    • You don’t need a Twitter, Periscope or any other account.
    • You can write up to 300 characters, rather than Twitter’s 140.
    • You can see others’ comments and questions.
    • You can also upvote (or downvote!) others’ questions or comments to bring them to the top of the list, should you so wish.

I hope these reflections and findings can be helpful to you if you are thinking of streaming a talk with Q&A in the future. If, you know a better solution for allowing written Q&A during a talk streamed through Periscope, please let me know about it in the comments section below. Here are a couple of solutions I contemplated and then dismissed:

  • Something like Google Hangouts would allow spoken interaction both ways, but I’m looking for a solution that doesn’t require people who want to listen to the talk to create an account of any sort, that keeps a written record of questions asked, that allows people to make comments or ask questions at any time without the need to wait for a pause (which can be very hard if there is a time lag for those who are remoting in), and that is as little reliant as possible on bandwidth.
  • Appear.in has no signup, but it assumes that those taking part want to appear on video too, it is limited to a maximum of 8 people, and I am worried about lag and bandwidth if I am also using Periscope at the same time.

Finally, I am sure there is a lot to say about the very idea of the public live streaming of academic talks, with the facility for interaction. No doubt I’ll have more to say when I’ve tried it once. In principle, I find the idea very attractive:

  • I can attend, and interact with, papers on subjects close to my research interests that I could not hope to hear otherwise.
  • Scholars spread across the globe can come together for a couple of hours around a topic of common research interest: this improves the chances of having an audience who know a lot about your topic and are able to benefit directly from the paper in their own research.
  • The combination of the audience in the room and the remote audience promises to be an interesting dynamic: will the audience in the room interact with remote questions or comments (developing them, critiquing them, challenging them), or vice versa?
  • You don’t have to be a member of a university, or from a country with a developed university infrastructure, to take part.
  • Sure, there are disadvantages too. But to my mind, at least for the moment, they are spectacularly outweighed by the democratising effect of live streaming. I’ll see how it goes on Tuesday…