This piece came about as a result of some Twitter conversations observed in the past week. One of the conversations centered around a question by Felicity Jones of Young Naturist of America regarding the ability of naturists to use new streaming tech apps like Periscope without running afoul of community standards related to nudity. Additional inspiration came from an op-Ed posted in the /r/nudism Reddit about the need for the naturist/clothes free community to have more “good” blogs and a better social media presence to counter some of stuff currently representing nudism and naturism online. This is something we have been saying for some time now but want to add another aspect to the conversation. We don’t just need more, we need better. We need more people who know how to use this new technology effectively to promote naturism/clothes free living. To that end we have brought on a tech contributor who will be writing about issues relating to new technology and the clothes free community. This post will cover an overview of questions relating to new tech which we hope to cover in-depth in the future.
A quick perusal of most naturist web sites including some club and resort ones suggest their owners, designers and maintainers are operating using decades old technology and design practices. The same is true for many social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Naturists seem to simply open up an account and start throwing up pictures and trivia information without much thought about why they should share that in the first place. Conversely the porn industry, which has always been technologically innovative, seems current and leading edge. And now comes the new tech of live streaming broadcasts.
The birth of the blogosphere meant the emergence of citizen journalists. Every person could be a journalist about the issues that mattered to them. The niche blogger catering to the issues and perspectives of niche groups was born. That was the promise of the blogosphere for the naturist/clothes free community a platform to promote the way of life without the restrictions usually encountered in the mainstream media outlets. Instead what we have gotten is a lot of really bad blogs just thrown together without much thought attempting garner views and followers by using naked pics to draw traffic.
What blogs were to written journalism, live streaming is to TV broadcasts. Live stream broadcasts using standalone apps like Meerkat or Periscope and the live stream feature now built into Facebook gives every person the ability to broadcast their lives, live and in color. Before the apps mentioned above, there were already live streaming apps for people seeking to create their own radio or TV broadcasts. Most of the names would be unfamiliar to all but the die hard techno geeks among our readers, because the apps and the platforms they were built on were walled gardens utilizing proprietary tech to create the broadcasts. All social interaction was contained within the walls of the websites connected to the apps. That is the biggest difference with the new streaming technology: their social interaction is drawn from existing social networks. The walls came tumbling down.
Meerkat arrived on the scene first using the Twitter social graph for user interaction. This meant that an individual could use their Twitter account to log in to the Meerkat app to broadcast and interact with viewers who likewise could use their Twitter account to use that platform to view broadcasts and interact. Twitter jumped into the fray next by purchasing the company that made Periscope and limiting Meerkat’s access to its user base. Meerkat then connected to the Facebook social graph but now Facebook has built live streaming into its software. It remains to be seen where this leaves the pioneer Meerkat. While this article was being developed Meerkat’s CEO announced it was moving away from live streaming as its primary focus, citing the need for a built-in user base like Twitter or Facebook for success.
So far, the value proposition of being live is just not clear to people who are not celebrities/media/news. If you are one of them (and particularly if you have an existing audience on Facebook or Twitter), there is clear value in occasionally going live as a new way to bring content to your audience or interact with them. This is especially true around existing live events with behind the scenes content, etc. But for most regular people – it has been hard to figure out when or even why to go live. It’s different than sharing photographs – Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin on Medium
What this means for naturists and those in the clothes free community seeking to do live streaming is the only options for live streaming are Facebook, which has a strict no nudity policy, or Periscope, which is owned by Twitter. I will focus on Periscope for the rest of this piece.
First off let’s dispel some assumptions.
- Streaming live media is just like recording video. Streaming a live broadcast is very different than recording a video which can be edited later. It’s like the difference between acting in a play and acting in a movie. Movie actors can use several takes to get a scene right. Stage actors have only that one chance each performance. Similarly live stream happens in real time; there is only one take. There is no editing, and any production additions have to be presets.
While live video has become an interesting feature on top of Twitter and Facebook, it hasn’t yet developed into a self-sustaining new network as we hoped we would do with Meerkat. Our assumption was that by reducing broadcaster’s cost to broadcast to zero (no equipment, etc) we would be able to create a whole new class of live broadcasters like YouTube did with video and YouTubers. Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin on Medium
- Streaming video is designed for the same purpose as recorded video. Well not exactly. The Meerkat CEO in his Medium post suggests most people beyond celebrities and news folks don’t get the difference.
So far, the value proposition of being live is just not clear to people who are not celebrities/media/news
So no talking head videos.
Here’s a way to look at it. While streaming media services like Netflix or Hulu and cable TV are designed to accomplish the same thing, that is allow viewers to watch TV shows and movies, they go about it in different ways. I can’t binge watch all the episodes of my favorite show or watch a movie at my schedule on cable (though on demand cables services are addressing this difference). So it is with streaming video like Periscope and recorded video like YouTube or Vimeo. While they both bring you video they are functionally different in their design and approach to doing so. Live stream broadcasts like those done on Periscope are intended for event oriented video with interactive features like a radio call in show, or live TV show with real time interaction from viewers. So no talking head videos. YouTube type video is designed for more static viewing usually after the event with interaction through commentary. More suitable for talking head type video without much interactive content. One of the interesting features added to Periscope since its first release is live streams are recorded in the cloud and can be replayed for 24 hours. They can also be saved for later editing and uploading to services like Vimeo or YouTube killing two birds with one stone. No pun intended Twitter.
- Just because Periscope is owned by Twitter, which has a liberal nudity policy, doesn’t mean it has a similar policy. Twitter also owns Vine another video app and social network which prohibits nudity. The Periscope community guidelines are vague as it relates to nudity. A recent correspondence between a topless equality advocate and the policy folks over at Periscope lead to a positive response about top freedom. However, a later broadcast was interrupted when the account was disabled. The account was reinstated with a proviso that suggests the policy is in flux. One of our editors @hontouniheart has done a clothes free kitchen broadcast and contributor @serentyhartsyou has done several clothes free karaoke broadcasts on her Periscope channel. Both still have active accounts. So for the time being we suggest being careful and taking advantage of the private broadcast feature of Periscope. This allows a broadcast to invited viewers and keeps the broadcast feed out of the global feed on Periscope and away from the risk of being reported.
Now to the challenge. Given the way that this new technology has been designed to be used, how does the clothes free community make use of it effectively? My opinion is the technology would be great to use to promote naturist/clothes free events like volleyball tournaments, 5k or events for the upcoming AANR nude games. The challenge here is to maintain a person’s privacy while broadcasting an event. When Meerkat was released last year my home base resort promptly banned all devices with cameras from common areas. Makes perfectly good sense from a privacy standpoint as it would seem the live nature of the video means once it’s out there it’s out there. But a better understanding of the technology and a little creativity might be called for here. What if there were designated zones where live streaming broadcasts could happen, and everyone who was in those zones would sign a release allowing them to be subjects. Anyone broadcasting should be vetted and sign an agreement as to usage. It’s not perfect, but worth a try. If you have another idea of how to use the new tech, add it in the comments. So, now it’s your turn. How can the naturist/clothes free community best use new technology to promote the way of life? What new tech have you used?