Is Look App the future of workable citizen journalism?

Every once in a while you come across an app that is pitched to you in one way but you can see a lot more potential another way. This might be the case for Look-app.net, the app that lets you ask anyone to be your webcam - imagine a livefeed from Hawaii or front row at a basketball game in San Francisco.

I wrote about Twitter and the potential for news domination in 2013[1] and I remember exactly where I was when I thought it would be a good idea for newsrooms to use data to "predict, locate and activate “sleeper-unit” journalists (and trained citizen journalists) who are armed with Facetime technology – or simply volunteer individuals streaming through a phone that a news outlet is able to instantly locate via GPS".  Smash cut to 2017 and Look-app.net is here.

Every once in a while you come across an app that is pitched to you in one way but you can see a lot more potential another way.  This is the case (in my opinion at least) for Look-app.net.  The unassuming app encourages people to sign up and permit others to use their video camera. You might use it to see if a store is busy, for example, based on the GPS (global positioning system).  Ultimately the user is in complete control - nothing is used or "taken over" as such.

People shoot and post more and more videos each day, mainly for social recognition. We are strongly focusing on this by providing a way to reward users for their videos

"Sounds weird to me!"

This is pretty much what most people over the age of 35 have said to me but ask younger people and they can see the benefits. 

Privacy is a swings-and-roundabout issue for most people - until you have a problem you likely don't think about it much.  This isn't to say privacy isn't important but the point is, this app is not for everyone although - and this is the key - everyone could benefit from a service like it.  The key will be getting people to use it.

I asked Donald Starr, founder, Look App, how he will get people to use the app:

"People shoot and post more and more videos each day, mainly for social recognition. We are strongly focusing on this by providing a way to reward users for their videos. It will take many forms, from virtual credits to contests, perks, social recognition or real money..."

Large market potential right now

With the world in a state of extreme uncertainty, and the ever-dwindling attention span[2], video and especially live video is important for organizations regaining trust and making money - news organizations fit well into both categories.

Imagine the potential for local news if there are hundreds of trained local reporters that could file stories - in an uber-esque model (i.e. not full time) - and get paid.  Look-app has the potential to upend a huge part of the news industry if a large news outlet gets behind it, a bit like CNN’s acquisition of Beme[3], though we have yet to see what fruit this purchase will bear. 

As with all acquisitions, scale is important. Right now Look App is small but with the right growth model and owner (or even just a partnership), the app could easily grow into a useful and productive newsgathering tool.

 

Contributed by Paul Armstrong, emerging technology advisor, HERE/FORTH and author of “Disruptive Technologies” out in May.

This article does not express the views of Reuters. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author.

 

[1] How to make Twitter the ultimate news ticker https://gigaom.com/2013/05/18/how-to-make-twitter-the-ultimate-news-ticker/

[2] Average attention span dropped from 12 secs in 2000 to 8.25 in 2015 http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/

[3] BEME is the social app co-founded by YouTuber Casey Neistat https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/28/cnn-buys-casey-neistats-beme-app-brings-the-youtuber-in-house/

 

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