Bree Olson in a black dress taking an Instagram selfie

Periscope Week

Hi guys! It’s Periscope (Identity Art) week this week! Our Activity details will be on the Periscope page very soon!

Meanwhile, exciting news, Bree Olson, the #3 Periscoper in the world is coming to talk to us tomorrow!

It’s going to be an informal conversation between us and her, so please try to watch a few minutes of her live or replay broadcasts and bring some questions! She’s on Periscope at “BreeOlson”.

There are a lot of ways to use Periscope: Interviews, Demonstrations, Travelogues, Lectures, Identity Projects, and more. I recently saw a bunch of Hair Stylists do a cool thing called Pass the ‘Scope. The way Bree Olson uses Periscope is often referred to as “Lifecasting.”

Closeup of Bree Olson


A very brief history!

Photograph of Page 1,000 of Samuel Richardson's book Clarissa

1748 – Clarissa: or the history of a young lady

Samuel Richardson
A novel is not exactly Lifecasting as we’d think of it today, but this is an important milestone. Many people would argue that the rise of Western Liberal Democracies would have been impossible without the rise of The Novel. That it was The Novel that let us experience other people’s lives, create empathy, and ultimately create change.

Lewis Hine photo of a child laborer in a factory

One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides – 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, “I don’t remember,” then added confidentially, “I’m not old enough to work, but do just the same.” Out of 50 employees, there were 10 children about her size. — Lewis Hine, 1908-1912

1908-1912 – Child Factory Workers

Lewis Hine
Again different from Lifecasting as we think of it, but like The Novel, Lewis Hine’s photography changed culture, specifically it changed labor laws in America. People had been aware of children working in factories, had talked about it, but congress did nothing about it. When Lewis Hine gave us the visual experience of child labor, American laws changed.

B&W screen cap of an Outer Limits episode from 1963 featuring 2 men viewing another man's life on a circular video screen

O.B.I.T., The Outer Limits

1963 – O.B.I.T.

The Outer Limits
O.B.I.T. is Lifecasting, but like The Truman Show, which we’ll get to shortly, it is not an individual choosing to broadcast their life, rather it is surveillance. O.B.I.T. is a bit like XKeyscore and other technologies revealed by Edward Snowden. But unlike Snowden’s revelations of NSA technologies, in this Outer Limits episode, the technology comes from aliens who believe that surveillance will result in the demoralization of humankind and make The Earth easier to invade and conquer:

The machines are everywhere! Oh you’ll find them all, you’re a zealous people. And you’ll make a great show of smashing a few of them. But for every one you destroy, hundreds of others will be built. And they will demoralize you, break your spirits, create such rifts and tensions in your society that no one will be able to repair them! Oh, you’re a savage, despairing planet, and when we come here to live, you friendless, demoralized flotsam will fall without even a single shot being fired. Senator, enjoy the few years left you. There is no answer. You’re all of the same dark persuasion! You demand – insist – on knowing every private thought and hunger of everyone: Your families, your neighbors, everyone — but yourselves.

series of photos showing 30-year evolution of Steve Mann's Eyetap wearable video and computing apparatus

1979-2015 – Eyetap

Steve Mann
Steve Mann essentially invented “Google Glass” and has been wearing it non-stop for the past 36 years. In a way Eyetap is a sort of Inverse Lifecasting since instead of showing a view of Mann, it shows a view of what he sees and experiences.

screencap of Jennifer Ringley looking at her webcam and holding up a note that reads "I feel so lonely"

Jennicam, Jennifer Ringley, 1996-2003

1996-2003 – Jennicam

Jennifer Ringley
In 1996 Jennifer Ringley invented what we would today call Lifecasting. In the early days of the web she set up a web cam in her Dickinson College dorm room in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Earlier webcams showed things like the view out the window or a fish tank. Ringley pointed the camera at herself.

1998 – The Truman Show

Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank
The Truman Show is Lifecasting, but unlike Jennicam, and like O.B.I.T., it is not intentional Lifecasting, but surveillance. Nonetheless, for many the term “Truman Show” has become synonymous with Lifecasting.

an open PC computer case with masking tape notes on the side that say "Lifesharing, Never Unplug, Privacy is Stupid"

2000-2003 – Lifesharing

Eva & Franco Mattes

For Life Sharing we turned our private lives into a public artwork. We made each and every file on our computer, from texts and photos to bank statements and emails, available to anyone at any time through our website. Unlike social networks, which didn’t exist at the time, its focus was sharing. Anything on our computer was available to search, read and freely copy, including the system itself, since we were using only free software. To extend the idea of exposing ourselves through the internet we started wearing a GPS transmitter so that anyone could know exactly where we were at any given time. We were obsessed with traffic logs, waking up in the middle of the night to check how many people were viewing Life Sharing. Where did they come from? What were they watching? For how long?

2006-2008 – Lonelygirl15

Bree Avery (Jessica Rose)
In an early YouTube series Bree Avery starts as a vlogger. Her playful circumstances gradually become sinister. At first audience members believed the YouTubes to be “real”, but after a couple of months they discovered it was a Web Series and that Bree Avery was being performed by actor Jessica Rose. The revelation did not seem to hurt viewership.

Screen cap of a Bree Olson Periscope broadcast

2015 – Bree Olson

In a few short months Bree Olson’s Lifecasts have lifted her to #3 Periscoper in the world.
* March 26, 2015 – Periscope launched on iOS
* May 26, 2015 – Periscope launched on Android
* Sept 10, 2015 – Periscope adds the ability to broadcast in landscape

Listing of the top 10 Periscope accounts as of 25 September 2015 with Bree Olson at #3 with 103 million "hearts"

Top 10 Periscopers in the world, with Bree Olson at #3. Unlike other social media where, for example, Katy Perry’s #1 ranking on Twitter is due more to her record & concert sales, because Periscope ranks “by Hearts”, you can only reach the top by having a huge presence on the platform and a lot of interaction with your audience.

Bree Olson drinking iced coffee from a glass mug

Bree Olson, cawfeeee

Bree Olson wearing a fitbit wristband

Bree Olson, fitbit

Homeless Project

Recently Bree Olson has interwoven Periscope,, Paypal, Her own charisma, and the goodwill of her audience in a project to benefit Homeless in Los Angeles.

Instagram of packages at Bree Olson's door Instagram of an endlessly long Ralph's receipt and a basked filled with toothbrushes and other basic items Instagram of a group of people out on a social good project

Written by Glenn Zucman

BA, Psychology, University of Hawaii, MFA, Intermedia Art, Long Beach State. Host of American Public Media's "Border Patrol." Host of KBeach Radio's "Strange Angels." Interested in Identity Art that explores our Oracle-at-Delphi-like straddling of corporeal and virtual realms in our new media century. Civil rights in online space. 10 years...
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