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Webcasting
Part 4. Webcasting as Live Streaming

The first definition of webcasting that I will look at is that which was proposed by Vince Vitale in MacWEEK On-line: "In general, webcasting is taking live audio and video and streaming it over the Internet, like a broadcast." This is, of course, the broadest definition of webcasting that we will be examining, since it does not specify any limitations with respect to the nature or subject of the broadcast. According to this definition, even the famous FishCam -- live images of somebody's fish tank -- would count as webcasting. With this type of broad definition, it is difficult to nail down any specific values with respect to the various criteria that we have established. Nonetheless, here goes.

First, with respect to interactivity, there is potentially very little interactivity available. The definition specifically calls for streaming the material in a broadcast manner, which means unidirectional, one-to-many. Beyond selecting the different audio/video streams to receive, much as one might flip channels on the TV, there is relatively little interactivity involved. Likewise, the personalization score is pretty low since, as mentioned before, this model follows the one-to-many paradigm in which little or nothing is done to make the experience unique for any single user. Also, since the audio and video is being streamed live, again like a broadcast, the transmission is time dependent. There is also some question as to the level of feedback that would be encouraged by such a webcast. For the most part, this definition of webcasting falls right in line with traditional broadcasting, essentially ignoring the potential of the technology upon which the webcasting is taking place.

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Last modified 5/21/97.