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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The [your name here] show

Video: A look at the technology behind www.hawaiigeek.tv

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ryan Ozawa, of Mililani, uses his Palm Treo 700p cell phone for a live videocast of fellow techie Burt Lum on Ozawa's Web site.

Photos by DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Anyone with a camera and Internet access can become a lifecaster and begin streaming their lives on the Web.

  • To get started, buy a digital camera, which can cost $50 to $400 and more (pictured above, a desk camera by Logitech), and an electronic video card.

  • Sign up for an account at http://Ustream.tv, and create a public "show" on the Web site.

  • Hook up your camera and "go live."

  • Ustream allows you to create your own public schedule for your show, "go live" whenever you'd like, record and store intermission video and even have your own chat room to go alongside your lifecast.

    For more information, visit www.ustream.tv.


    Ryan Ozawa: www.hawaiigeek.tv

    Burt Lum: www.bytemarks.org

    Justin Kan: www.justin.tv

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    Ryan Ozawa has been "lifecasting" with a shoulder-strapped "notebook camera," which gives his Web site viewers a glimpse into his daily life.

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    Burt Lum, left, and Ryan Ozawa, both local innovators of "lifecasting," put their lives on the Internet via live streaming video as a way to connect viewers to events they may not be able to attend.

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    As Ryan Ozawa walked through downtown Honolulu to a lunch meeting recently, he received a text message on his electronic hand-held device. It was from a woman who was watching Ozawa's stroll - on his Web site http://Hawaiigeek.tv.

    She had noticed that he was passing a location used in the hit ABC television show "Lost."

    "My walk downtown turned into a live 'Lost' tour," Ozawa said during a lunch meeting with other tech geeks last week, which he streamed live on his Web site, of course.

    Ozawa and a few other Honolulu techies are local innovators of an increasingly popular Internet activity called "lifecasting" - ordinary people broadcasting their ordinary lives in real time over the Web.

    Like headline-making San Francisco lifecaster Justin Kan of http://Justin.tv, Ozawa wears a "geek-mounted camera" (on his lapel) and broadcasts the mundane events in his life, including family outings, the commutes to and from his Mililani home and lunch breaks at Ala Moana Beach Park.

    But unlike Kan, Ozawa doesn't keep his camera on 24/7. (Internet lurkers can watch Kan rustle under his duvet as he sleeps.)

    "I'm not that nuts. When I'm doing something interesting - going to the carnival this weekend, the Spam Jam, whatever people want to see - I turn it on," Ozawa said.

    Both he and fellow lifecaster Burt Lum, a former Advertiser technology columnist, recently broadcast a live talk with Segway inventor Dean Kamen via their Web sites. The idea was that anyone anywhere could log on and interact with Kamen through Lum and Ozawa.

    Both Ozawa and Lum use lifecasting as a way to connect viewers, either locally or elsewhere, to events they may not be able to attend - a Honolulu City Council meeting or a day at the pool with the Ozawa family. Getting into lifecasting was relatively easy for both. All they needed was a camera and an electronic video card.

    Lifecasting is not to be confused with the Web cams of 1999, where viewers were restricted to scenes in someone's living room or dining area. Today's videocasts are live and mobile, giving viewers a front-row view of someone's life.

    While technologies allow someone such as Kan of Justin.tv to wear a camera on his head and broadcast 24/7, why would anyone want to do that?

    "Well, why would someone climb Mount Everest?" Lum said.

    On the World Wide Web of 2007, with the advent of YouTube and affordable computer accoutrements, anyone can be a star, he said.

    Ozawa, whose "Lost" podcast in 2005 reached the top seven on iTunes downloads and who created the online discussion site Hawaii Threads, says his entry into lifecasting was a natural progression.

    "It was just the next step along the continuum. First I had a Web page, then I had a blog, then I had a photo blog, then I had a podcast, now it's video all the time," Ozawa said.

    Most who enter into lifecasting do so for the apparent entertainment value - as entertaining as Ozawa's morning commute from Mililani into town can be. But both Ozawa and Lum say they see the potential for lifecasting to have more influential uses.

    Ozawa, whose day job is in real estate, says local lifecasters could be hired as house hunters by people on the Mainland, allowing prospective buyers to see leaky faucets and warped floors at an open house. Lifecasters could attend City Council meetings for groups of people and ask questions and submit testimony on their behalf, he said.

    "My degree is in journalism, and my whole point has not been this as entertainment," said Ozawa, although he admits much of his lifecasting content falls under that category. He broadcast a visit to Manoa Marketplace, where he bought, and then dropped, a container of poke, for instance.

    "I've been interested in unedited, unfiltered news coverage. I could go to a protest, walk around, talk to people. You might see the protest on the evening news, but it's filtered - someone has chosen to cover it, someone has chosen to write it up, cut it up into 90 seconds. With this, you can have people with relatively inexpensive technologies being there," he said.

    Lifecasting also gives people the ability to take media - either entertainment or news - into their own hands. Instead of crafted television or broadcast news, lifecasters deliver real-time, unadulterated peeks into their lives.

    Should journalists be afraid for their jobs now that people such as Ozawa and Lum are delivering unedited messages to the masses?

    No, says Ozawa. "There's a downside to it, too. There's no context," he said.

    "If your universe is limited to what I'm streaming, you're only getting my point of view, literally."

    Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.