Just about every day I go through the Internet conducting searches for material about streaming video. You probably do the same, and if so, maybe you have the same reaction I do: Online video can be so amazingly valuable. And, on the other dirtier hand, online video is just a sorry geekfest, a hi-tech equivalent to freak shows or News of the Weird.
I suppose it’s those two extremes that still keep advertisers reluctant to be there. They never know. And though the vilest content is—probably—user generated content that will not normally be connected to any advertisers, it’s really hard for some advertisers to take that chance, or maybe hard for some Websites to resist.
The Morning Call in Allentown Pa. wrote about a merchant who has rigged a motion detector and a camera in an alleyway corner some people use to urinate. When the sensor sees a visitor, it starts a process that ends with the offender being doused with a blast of water from above, and caught on video.
These videos with low-brow “pisser” references are now on YouTube. They’re not greatly viewed. Not for lack of trying, though. The Morning Call, owned by Tribune Co., and boasting it is “Lehigh’s Valley’s First Choice for News” included a window in its story so readers could watch it. It notes a highlight reel has been seen on the Huffington Post, Gawker and the UK Telegraph.
In the usual context, this would be a local story about some local-boy-makes-good distinction that was reflecting great favor on the metropolis and gets covered by the daily paper. Not anymore.
And now, I’ve publicized it some more, which I regret. That is the biz. Indeed it is. Videos like these get picked up by news organizations whose managers may find the content offensive or just stupid. But those things drive visitors to the site. That’s the object, and while I’m sure everybody has some line they will not cross, it gets pushed back, and back and back when Websites can really measure traffic relatively precisely and head count is being applauded by the suits in the corner offices.
There are the other remarkable uses for streaming video, and you can come across those just as easily as the crass accounts, if you go looking. At the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County in Canada, a family announced it was donating eight iPads and money to maintain a wireless connection to the facility, so that loved ones who couldn’t be with a dying family member or friend could still connect to them to spend final days together. The story, in The Windsor Star, relates how Ramza Saruna couldn’t spend the time she wanted with her dying father because her new American visa wouldn’t allow that many visits back to Canada. The hospice finally found one device equipped with Skype and she was able to stay in contact through his final days. Now, with her donation and other money from a charity called Transition to Betterness, other families will get the same chance, and the charity wants to duplicate the service elsewhere around the area. You read that and you’re happy about the technological revolution that has rather relentlessly changed the world. Too bad when you chat with friends you’re more likely to talk about the urination camera in Allentown.