Demo or die

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Last night Robert Scoble demoed Dave Winer’s latest thing, FlickrFan. FlickrFan is a cute software trick that taps Twitter and Flickr’s API in order to feed tweets and pics to your home entertainment center via Apple’s MacMini. While many a good man has been humbled by a software demo gone bad (this writer included) the way the demo was delivered only compounded the muddle.

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Robert used Qik to webcast the demo via cell phone. The Qik page displays the video feed and hosts a chat window. The fact that all of the chatters were anonymous (Qik is alpha and I’m sure many like me were using it for the first time last night.) meant that the chat room was more than a little boisterous. Maybe it was the holiday spirit.

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On the surface, Qik appears to be a great mobile solution. Simply use your cell phone to upload live video. Unfortunately, the quality of the video was awful. If Loren Feldman has a problem with Seesmic, he’d be apoplectic over Robert’s attempts to show FlickrFan running on a large HDTV display. The image was worthless, and the software remained a buggy mystery. Such is the life of an unscripted demo god.

Dave Winer called in mid-demo. Rather than use a mixing board or some other way to capture phone audio, Robert just put his iPhone on speaker and held it up to the cell phone that was taking the video. Oy, even for telephony, the audio quality was painful to listen to. Dave didn’t stick around very long. I’m not sure if the chat comments put him off or the overall slapdash nature of the demo wasn’t comfortable, but after a brief chat he said “I really don’t need to be here right now” and hung up.

The chat room was baffled, Scoble scrambled to fill air time and I was left wondering why Dave didn’t at least stick around to describe his vision, talk about the opportunities with the current crop of APIs, discuss how media companies might use his Radio 8 based FlickrFan. Dave is a very articulate guy I just wish he stayed around long enough to tell us why we should care about it.

As far as Qik is concerned I’m very forgiving of alpha software. It appears to be a useful tool but as with all media, production values must be paid attention to. Better lighting, better audio and less hand held camera work. Still I applaud Robert for using alpha software to demo alpha software. It really takes brass balls to do that.

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8 Responses to “Demo or die”

  1. Dave Winer Says:

    Mike, I had no idea what was going on, but judging from the comments on the chat, it wasn’t a place I wanted to be. And Scoble’s demo was terrible, the people who demo software to him practice and think long and hard about how to demo it. I did too, and the demos I’ve been doing, privately, have been pretty close to flawless (knock wood). I will do a public demo, sometime in mid-January. Scoble jumped the gun, and he should have left it to me to demo my software. That way if I fuck up, there’s no one but me to blame. You’ll get what you’re looking for, just a bit more time.

  2. Lisa Padilla Says:

    His heart was in the right place though right? You have to herald Scoble’s unyeilding interest in technology. He’s the Life cereal Mikey of our time and he’ll try anything. I know we agree!

  3. Mike McGrath Says:

    Mikey would eat anything and he had a cute smile like Robert, too. But eating Life Cereal can’t be described as the bleeding edge of breakfast.

    What Robert does has far more risk and ultimately is far more interesting if only for the chatter he stirs up. Same applies to Dave. It would be a far less interesting world without the chatter these guys stir up, positive or negative.

  4. Jane Says:

    seems similar to this other product i saw recently

    http://chirpscreen.com/

  5. Glogger Says:

    I believe what they have done this in a way wrong way. We have such technology ready for a long while and this live streaming can be done on cellphone other than Nokia S60 series. We have this running on both Motorola (E6 and A1200) and Sony Ericsson phones (JP7 phones). Check out http://www.glogger.mobi and ask support@glogger.mobi for how to setup your first live video cellphone. See http://www.glogger.mobi/flv_ray/index.php?start=5455&num=30 for the live video lecture from a cellphone by Prof. Steve Mann broadcast yesterday. We have also been streaming video in SIGGRAPH 2007 and other events. You can see we have uploaded over 5000 videos streams in the past few months.

  6. Glogger Says:

    Here is another angle of the live video feed from Motorola E6. Prof. Steve Mann we wearing the N95 cameraphone and broadcasting from his point of view at the same time.

    http://www.glogger.mobi/flv_mann/index.php?start=287&num=50

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