Category: Media


Editor’s Note: Semil Shah is a contributor to TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter at @semil.

Throughout high school and college, I took a heavy dose of political science and history classes. As a result, those teachers and professors stressed the importance of investigating primary source documents and analyzing them on their own merits versus secondary sources (like textbooks, for instance), even though we were all issued textbooks, essays by subject matter experts, and a range of other interpretations. Eventually as college ended, the courses focused more on the primary source and our own interpretation of it.

Fast forward to today. At least in the world of startup technology news, which moves too fast to be captured by textbooks or print-versions of magazines, primary sources remain important, but social sources – at least for me – trump all. Of course, in early-stage, private companies, obtaining primary sources is difficult. In my world of tech news, like many, Twitter is my main source of information and how I surf the web. Specifically on Twitter, however, I do not follow any “news sources” directly. There is too much information out there. As a result, I try to follow people who’ve I’ve grown to trust who read and share articles or random blog posts.

In order for me to read something, I need a social signal to trigger and capture my attention. “Who” shares it with me matters. The “source” matters still, just not as much. And, in some cases, the source online can be propped up by a brand and hold power in its distribution. Real estate to create content online is infinite. There is no barrier to entry to create information, to build an audience, to generate page views, and to peg those against ads. Therefore, at least in my small world of online tech news, social sources reign supreme.

I’m guessing many of you reading this may feel the same way. The social signal from following a friend or trusted industry source motivates me to gain interest in a link, to read the story, or save for later. The most critical piece of information in that decision is not where the link originates from and resides, but rather who has shared this link. In a way, the tweet itself, as a unit of social currency, is more important than the source itself. One product which demonstrates the pervasiveness of this Flipboard. Yes, Flipboard has dedicated media channels for sources, but on their social feeds, the author of a piece of content is nearly greyed out so that the reader can focus on “who” shared the content with them over “who” created it.

The point of view I’m sharing obviously isn’t new or earth-shattering. The idea of “social news” has even collected dust. We all know it to be true. However, I believe this has big, long-term implications for online media brands. In my college history experience, book publishers spent time aligning with universities, professors, and other beacons in that world in order to make sure their materials were picked as sources. Fast-forward to today, those kind of tactics may not be as effective. Instead, media brands are forced to think critically about the quality of their loyal, core audience, because it is those individuals who will, as social sources, share and discuss the content, information, facts and myths with their own friends and audiences. This is where real, sustainable distribution lies. For media companies online, the social source trumps the primary source – it is the realization that who shares information online is oftentimes more important than what that information is. And for many media brands, that is a fundamentally – and at times scary – new reality.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Montes / Flickr Creative Commons

youtube 520x245 YouTube expands live streaming to all channels, adds option to directly launch a Google+ Hangout On Air

YouTube today announced it is expanding its live streaming service to all YouTube channels. The Google-owned company now only has two requirements: your account must be verified and it has to be in good standing. If you have both, but don’t see the feature yet, don’t worry as it’s rolling out “over the next few weeks.”

The update today also adds the option to launch a Google+ Hangout On Air directly from the YouTube Live events manager. If you’ve got a decent YouTube following, this should give your Google+ page a boost, which is of course exactly what Google wants.

YouTube Live was previously only available to a small number of individuals and YouTube partners whom Google deemed worthy to test it out. The video site then opened up the feature to channels with at least 1,000 subscribers, and then at least 100 subscribers. Now it’s available to all.

Once you gain access (on the account feature page and in the Video Manager), here’s what YouTube Live lets you do:

  • Real-time transcoding in the cloud, so you only need to send YouTube your highest quality stream. The site makes it instantly available in all resolutions and device formats.
  • Show multiple camera angles, add closed captions, plus insert ads and slates.
  • Viewers can watch the live stream from any device, get the best quality constantly adjusting to their Internet connection, and can skip back and forth in the live stream.

You can also track statistics for your viewers:

youtube live YouTube expands live streaming to all channels, adds option to directly launch a Google+ Hangout On Air

Live streaming is seen as the next step in the video consumption world. On-demand content is here to stay of course (and many streamed videos will be recorded for later viewing), but it’s simply more exciting to watch something as it happens.

The world’s biggest video platform is getting in on the game, letting users both announce live streams in advance as well as push live video feeds to the world on a whim. In 2014, YouTube will be a very different website.

See also – New features hit YouTube Live, with real-time analytics & free Wirecast software and Google gives US Congress members ‘enhanced features’ on YouTube, including the ability to live stream video

Top Image Credit: Eric Piermont/Getty Images

tomahawk 520x245 Cool music player Tomahawk gets an API, making it easier for developers to support multiple services

Tomahawk, the much-praised music player app that acts as a unified location to listen to music from sources as diverse as Spotify, SoundCloud, Rdio and YouTube, has announced the launch of an API designed to make life easier for music app and hack developers.

Revealed at Midem in Cannes, France, where the startup is taking part in the annual Midemlab competition along with 29 other companies, the API lets developers add a simple, multi-source music player to their apps – perfect for events like Music Hackday, where coders have limited time and want an easy way to support multiple music services.

With a few of lines of code, a Tomahawk music player (which can be hidden from view if the developer chooses) can be added to any app, and it supports SoundCloud,,, Deezer, Jamendo, YouTube, Rdio and Spotify, with further integrations promised for the future. The player even respects any source preferences existing Tomahawk users may have set up already.

Conveniently, there is a Midem Hack Day taking place in Cannes right now, and who knows, maybe the Tomahawk API will be put to use there. We plan to bring you our pick of the hacks from Midem in the coming week. We’ll also let you know which three startups end up winning the Midemlab competition on Monday, so stay tuned.

Tomahawk API

Image credit: Jupiterimages / Thinkstock

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