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McAdams On: Going Live Online

If I hear old school one more time, I might go postal. Except for going postal is probably old school. Ambivalence over egalitarian live Web broadcasting is probably old school, too. Allow me to fetch my teeth so I can chew this fat.

Much was made of the news this week that Apple adopted a live streaming app for the iPhone. Now iPhoners can iPhone in live video of themselves or whomever doing heaven only knows what on the app Web site, Ustream. I went there and watched a young woman earnestly strum a guitar and sing painfully off-key. Thanks to the wonders of technological innovation, I was able to feel a combination of dread and pity for a total stranger.

It’s not as if live Webcasting is entirely new. All one needed up to this point is a Web cam and a URL. The majority of folks uploaded video, however, giving them time to perhaps rethink the impulse.

We’ve all played with the medium. We’re all on WordPress, Linkedin, Twitter, Orkut, Ammado, Plaxo, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Tripit, TypePad, Classmates, Flickr, Goodreads, Blip and Meetup like a swarm of pseudosocial butterflies. I remember when getting a story meant putting on a headlamp, climbing a tree with ropes and saddles, showing up backstage, shadowing someone, haunting certain coffee shops. Now it’s about being plugged into the matrix and Twittering yourself all over the place.

I’m baffled this stuff holds anyone’s interest longer than it takes to Tweet something. Perhaps that’s because I’m old school.

I’m also ambivalent because I do appreciate the way the Internet allows anyone to market themselves. I appreciate being able to find just about any type of music other than the endless blargh of “classic rock” that clogs traditional radio. It’s nice that the video medium isn’t just the domain of a few movie studios and TV production houses, but rather anyone with a Flip.

But we are not all stars. Even most of the folks considered stars seem a bit tedious. Let us put down our collective need to be special and acknowledge our mediocrity There are 6.8 billion of us skittering around on this wet rock, folks. We ain’t none of us all that, though I am fan of Aung San Suu Kyi. Unfortunately, Mme. Suu Kyi will be unlikely to stream anything live on the Internet anytime soon.

Kudos in the meantime to Chrysler for making a statement that could otherwise not be made in Burma. Hence the wonder of this medium, also a conduit for the substantial assemblage that cannot spell, punctuate or otherwise think an original thought. Now this group has another way to display their particular set of skills. We must alert the media. Oh, that’s right... they are the media.

We hacks are just old school.