On June 28, 2011, a new social network by the name of Google+ emerged. One feature called Hangouts made it stand out from the rest. For free and without any additional software, you can start or join a group video chat with up to 10 people. Later, the ability to stream live and record Hangouts was added. One person early to use them was Sarah Hill, a 12-time Emmy award winning anchor for KOMU-TV based out of Missouri.
Hangouts enabled her to offer a different perspective of the news room, allowing Google+ users from around the world to see what goes on behind the scenes. Eventually, Sarah moved on to work with the Veterans United Network where she tells stories about veterans, and military families. Recently, Sarah got her hands on Google Glass which is leading the charge in the next generation of wearable computing. In this interview, we talk about how Glass can benefit content creators, the future of content creation, and more.
How did you get involved with being one of the first recipients of Google Glass?
I volunteer for a project called “Veterans Virtual Tours”. We provide online tours to aging and terminally veterans who would like to see their memorial but are too sick to travel. I saw the Google+ post about Glass and decided to share my #ifIhadglass wish.
Wearable technology is in a very infant stage, but seems to have a lot of of potential. How do you see a product like Glass aiding content creators?
Glass has opened up a whole new field for content creators with the new genre of “hands-free reporting”. Combine Glass with Google+ Hangouts and you’re essentially able to broadcast from your face. Reporters seek to be the eyes and ears of the public. With Glass, viewers are able to see and hear exactly what you’re seeing and hearing in real time. Because it’s faster and easier to share photos and videos from Glass than it is on your smartphone, you’re also increasing the likelihood that you won’t miss moments. It takes me about 14 clicks to awaken my smart phone, take a picture and upload it to one of my social sites. With Glass, I can do the same in just a few clicks.
I’ve met you in many Google+ Hangouts, and have personally used Hangouts On Air to put together discussions that served as great blog content. What is the best way for people to get started with Hangouts? Can you maybe share some advice on best tips, practices, etc?
The best way to get started with Hangouts is to join some. A lot of people think they need to host a Hangout first, which is a mistake. Join first, get to know some people, then start hosting some yourself. Do a search within G+ on “how to host hangouts on air” and you’ll find some great advice from people on the platform. I’d also encourage you to join Billy Wilson’s “Hangouts” Community on Google+. I also discuss “Human Media” in my Hangouts community on G+.
However, you can’t just read up on how to do Hangouts, the best way to learn is to dive in and join some yourself. Don’t let the technology intimidate you. Hangouts are simply a new kind of video phone. Once you learn how to dial the video phone, it’s easy peasy.
There are some concerns with wearable technology, but there’s definitely an interest, especially at a good price point. What do you see as the future of content creation if a product like Glass is able to capture the minds and attention of millions worldwide?
The future of Glass is giving people the ability to broadcast hands free from their face. Instead of asynchronous live tweeting from a parade, riot or other breaking news event, you will see people giving live Glass tours via Hangouts. Hangouts On Air are currently not supported for Glass but you’ve got to think that’s coming in the future. Even with a private Glass Hangout, a TV station can still route that Hangout through its control room and put it on the air. Glass will enable us to walk through scenes more to capture events and free up our hands during video recording to pick up objects, open doors, etc. Essentially, Glass liberates content creators to be more mobile and allows them to capture images without having to hold something in their hands.
Thanks to Google+, you’ve built a very loyal and dedicated following. What are your tips for building an active community?
Share and be shared. Fill your stream with interesting photos, videos and infographics that OTHER people besides yourself shared. Participate in Hangouts. Hangouts are the lifeblood of what I call the “Human Media” experience. Human Media is the new layer of social whereby we are interacting face to face via cameras as opposed to text based social media chats with avatars. A Human Media experience is a deeper level of connection than tweeting with someone because you can see the person’s face react in real time. In a sense, hangouts transport you into that person’s home or office.
People are more likely to follow people whom they know. If you Hangout with someone, you know them, therefore you want to follow them. The Veterans United Network is one group that realizes it doesn’t just need a social media presence, it needs a Human Media presence. Via Hangouts, we are in the homes and offices of veterans and military families all the time. We don’t just want military members to follow us, we want them to know us. Building your following starts with doing some virtual door knocking via Hangouts and introducing yourself. The days where companies rely solely on people interacting with their avatars are numbered.
Where can people follow you?
Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.