Does Qik change everything?

If you’re not already familiar with it, check out Qik. It’s an application and web service that lets you stream video from a mobile phone to the web, live.
Why is this important? For me it’s one of these wow-this-could-revolutionise-journalism moments. It’s similar to the widespread adoption of cameraphones during the past few years – the technological driver behind Scoopt and similar citizen journalism services – but cooler in three important respects:
– We’re talking video, not just stills. This is live outside broadcast unit in your pocket.
– The storage and transport issues just go away. You no longer have to save a video clip on your phone’s memory card and figure out how to send it somewhere useful; you just fire up Qik on your phone and stream live video over any wi-fi or mobile network connection. (I’ll always be haunted by the Scoopt member who shot some cracking cameraphone video within three minutes of the Buncefield explosions – and then took 18 hours to submit it because getting it off the phone was difficult.)
– Viewers can interact with you through Qik while you’re streaming. Their comments appear on your mobile’s screen so you can pose audience questions to an interview subject. It’s already happening and there’s no ‘off the record’
It’s not perfect. Quality levels are ok, not brilliant (but getting better); and you can’t edit a video once you’ve streamed it (though I imagine this will change). But surely this is a phenomenally powerful tool for journalism? Doesn’t it change everything when you have a gazillion CJs shooting live video of everythng that happens everywhere?
Well, maybe.
Steve Outing gets it spot on here:

Hey, mainstream media companies: Jump on this now. Don’t wait for yet another big Internet trend to go huge before deciding then to experiment (as has happened SO many times before with other things). Let’s move a bit faster this time, eh?

He’s right. There’s a fantastic opportunity for the mainstream here. Sure, the challenges are familiar – corraling and filtering a mass of content, extracting and sharing value and revenue, and so forth – but this is something that every news org with an interest in video (and that means all of them) should be actively promoting.
Will they? Probably not – but I’d certainly like to hear of any examples. Has Qik already struck partner relationsips with media outlets? Don’t know, but I’ll ask. Is there an opportunity for a UGC video agency to sit between punters and the media to filter, edit and license newsworthy footage? Maybe, but sooner or later mainstream media WILL get it and reach out directly to contributors (“send us all yer videos for $$$!!!”), at which point customers become competitors.
So how can journalism in the round best exploit the power of Qik and similar services? What content-gathering models would work?
One of the most interesting comments to come out of the Journalism Enterprise and Entrepreneurship unconference yesterday was made by Rick Waghorn in relation to the Knight News Challenge: Why don’t the major news organisations in the UK get together to incentivise innovation in journalism here? It’s patently in their/our own interest to figure out how to move journalism forwards, and the best ideas will always come from entrepreneurial ideas people. So let’s give them a real incentive to work on industry-changing projects. Qik could be a starting point: given the potential, what should we do with it?
I’ll follow up and report back…
Meanwhile, if you’ll forgive the poor lighting, dodgy audio and spurious subject matter (I shouldn;t be allowed near a camera), here’s Hubdub founder Nigel Eccles discussing Pakistani geopolitics with our cab driver after JEEcamp last night, streamed live en route to Birmingham airport.
Forget the quality – focus on the potential!

qik video