by Jason Hicks
The concept of a webcast, a live broadcast of audio and/or video over the internet isn't a new one, the idea goes back to the late '80s and the first actual webcasts occurred in the late '90s. These days there are tons of webcasts that you can watch, from BBC news programs to live concerts. AT&T in particular has been broadcasting decent quality streams of major music festivals at their blue room website for a few years now.
But two days ago a first occurred, an audience member webcast nearly an hour of a Phish concert live from New York to over 2000 viewers using only his iPhone and a streaming site called Ustream. In contrast to a professional webcast using digital video cameras and huge amounts of bandwidth, the stream did break up a few times and the video was fairly blocky. The audio wasn't great either but it was listen-able, and the stream came through uninterrupted for over 15 minutes at times.
While there are major copyright issues and it's likely that Ustream will be receiving a cease and desist order any day now, it was indeed pretty incredible to be able to experience some semblance of the performance in real time merely due to the efforts of one audience member and his phone.
Apparently the webcast made such a stir that spammers on twitter are now using the keywords "phishtube broadcast" to post links to pages with adware and fake antivirus products. "Phistube" is the name of the Ustream account that was used to stream the webcast. While that's an unfortunate consequence it doesn't diminish the precedent that was set, and I bet we will see a proliferation of one man (or woman) mobile broadcasts in the very near future.
Phish play their next show tonight at 8 PM EST, so check out phishtube's page to see if he can pull it off again.