That’s what the inauguration (#inaug09) is being called by many tech bloggers.
It was the first big test of a single event of nationwide interest and it was supposed to be a chance for the Internet to take on television. But it looks like the Internet still isn’t ready for the big leagues.
Here’s what I noticed. I put up our streaming video player just before 9 a.m. local time. The NBC video player already wasn’t working, so I embedded the MSNBC video player. Things went smoothly for about an hour. Despite the fact we have six TV’s – just in the newsroom – I wanted something I could hear clearly while sitting at my desk. So I left it playing in the background while I posted stories, Twitter updates and helped Lauren with her blog from Washington.
Around 10 a.m., the problems started. I began to hear intermittent silence. It was very upsetting. Wondering if this was an isolated problem, I switched over to CNN. We are also a CNN affiliate, so I could have easily switched our video feed. But the problem was also happening there. I had problems launching or watching video from every major news source. Some even put me in a virtual waiting room. The nerve.
CNN.com served 21.3 million streams yesterday, with a peak of 1.3 million simultaneous streams. I’m not denying that is a bit overwhelming. But I do have to say that I was disappointed.
“Will it get better? Yes. Akamai and others can always put up more proxy streaming servers at the edge of the network to meet demand. But that is an expensive proposition for infrequent events. Perhaps a better solution for live streaming is a peer-to-peer model where streaming quality improves as more people watch. (Check out RayV, which does this). That would require everyone to download extra add-on software for their browsers. I’d do it in a second if that would solve the live stream stuttering problem.”
Other disappointments – Twitter. The #inaug09 feed was surprisingly devoid of emotion or insights. I have to admit, I used @KWWL to post excerpts from Obama’s speech, but I still took time with @jennjarvis to comment on Aretha’s hat. (Which was awesome.)
Finally I started watching CNN’s Facebook feed. It was full of the emotion and humor I was hoping for, even if the video was lacking.
So here’s my final grade for Inauguration coverage online. A+ for interactive features like past speeches and inaugural gowns (yes both are available on KWWL.com). And an F for the video streams that were at times useless.
On a side note – it wasn’t just a rough day for news outlets. The J. Crew Web site crashed after it was discovered that Michelle Obama and the girls were wearing items from the company. I guess there’s a limit to how much attention we want, or can handle.
This post was written by jjarvis on January 21, 2009