Broadcast Yourself Live From Your Own Web Page: Stickam Is Here
Stickam is a new unique communication and online collaboration widget that can be embedded into any web page. It allows to publish audio and video clips, images, as well as to interact in real-time with other people via text chat and video conferencing.
Completely web-based, this new, Flash-powered web application, appears to have all the right characteristics for getting lots of exposure and rapid adoption by bloggers, small and medium-sized online publishers of all kinds.
Here is the Stickam multimedia player that I have embedded in this very article for your own exploration:
Differently from other Flash-based tools which allow you to embed rich-media content like photos, audio or video clips onto your web pages with custom widgets that contain one such clip or track, Stickam integrates these abilities into one customizable player which can carry within itself all of your selected music tracks, digital images and video clips that you want to share through your web site.
Stickam also enables:
- real-time video conferencing with up to five visible concurrent video partners
- concurrent text chat facility
- unlimited text chat guests
- live video broadcasting from your webcam to any number of viewers
Stickam is completely free to use and can be used with any type of computer as it is completely web-based.
The service has just launched and it is still in Beta. Expect therefore a few idiosyncracies and bugs and some areas in which there is still a great deal to improve.
The site and information organization leaves a bit to be desired as there are way too many items screaming for attention on key pages. At first it maybe slighly difficult and confusing for a novice or non-technical person to understand what exactly to do to set up Stickam.
But given enough time to explore and try, Stickam proves to be a highly innovative service that definitely deserves some good attention.
As said, Stickam allows you to easily place streaming videos, a full image slide show and personalized selection of your favourite music tracks or audio interviews, on your blog or news web site. If you don't have one, Stickam creates a personalized web page for you that integrates a Stickam player and all of its functionalities.
If you want, all videos, audio and images uploaded to your Stickam account are automatically made public for everyone to see. By signing-up to Stickam you agree to share only legal content and you hold yourself responsible for publishing anything that goes outside the law.
But in Stickam, you need not only upload existing video clips. You can also record and publish your video recordings on-demand just when you want to.
A Flash-based personal video recorder is available within the Edit My Videos section and it allows to easily record, tag and title your own personal video messages, performances or presentations that can then be directly uploaded to your Stickam account. (Unfortunately I encountered some small bugs here too preventing me from being able to watch back these clips smoothly).
Also possible is the direct uploading of video clips, images or audio tracks directly from your mobile phone. To do this you need first to register the email address of your mobile/wireless phone and then you will be enabled to using the multimedia direct upload email address of Stickam.
The Stickam player can be placed on any web site, and it has been specifically designed to fit in most side columns of blogs and web sites. Sized to multiple formats (160 by 400 pixels and 160x160, 160x200 or 480x240) the strip can be easily integrated on any web site in the preferred position.
The Stickam player can even be displayed site-wide by adding a small snippet of code to your master HTML template rather than within an individual web or blog post page. Here is what the Stickam player code code looks like :
Within the top part of the Stickam player multiple icons allow the immediate display of images, videos or the streaming of selected audio files. By clicking on the lens icon the Stickam player is enlarged to a full 780x630 window that hosts your live video, a text chat area with a list of chat buddies and five additional video windows at the bottom to host other real-time interlocutors.
Customization and branding of the Stickam player is available, though the process to do so it is not yet as easy and unambiguos as they should be. As a matter of fact, several procedures and features would greatly benefit from a more streamlined, less noisy and better organized interface.
Each registered member can also create up to four different players skins, while the rich-media contents carried within them remains the same.
Stickam accepts images in standard GIF and JPG graphic file formats as well as videos in AVI, MOV, WMV, 3GP and MPEG and audio clips in .MP3 and .WAV formats while providing you with 500MB of storage and unlimited bandwidth at absolutely no cist.
To meet and videoconference in real-time you need the other participants to be Stickam members, who are signed-in and who have turned on their feature "Go Live". All others will only be able to see and hear you, and if the Stickam owner as specifically allowed it, to text chat with you.
That is, you could conduct a public presentation with audio and video of yourself from the Stickam player, by simply integrating the player in your selected web page and announcing the event beforehand.
This feature by itself, I think it's worth all of the little idiosyncracies and frustrations that this young, but promising tool may have in store of you.
In this conferencing mode, each attendee to your public live session is listed in the chat buddy list appearing on the right hand side of the screen, and each one displays a characterizing icon depending in status and abilities she has enabled.
If you are logged in, it is also possible to click on any of the chat session participants and have a number of useful moderation controls, like "kick", "ban" or "ignore user" immediately available to you. By clicking on user names it is also possible to select which ones you would like to be displayed on the video windows available. Within these, it is also very handy for you to be able to "stop" any video, drop it or mute its audio.
Stickam requires no software to download, you just copy and paste the Stickam code into your web site or blog where you want it. Video, images and audio clips can all be viewed by virtually anyone without any software installation guaranteeing 99% compatibility with all major operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux.
Stickam officially supports Blogger, Myspace, Friendster, Xanga, TagWorld, eBay among a growing number of other publishing platforms. It is evident though that the Stickam code can be easily made to work across a much larger number of publishing platforms including Six Apart Movable Type, Typepad, Wordpress and many others.
Stickam supports Unicode text encoding allowing full support for multilingual text chat exchanges.
The FAQ support page at http://stickam.com/about/faq.jsp offers some relief to the most basic questions but needs definitely more information and detail.
For webcam users an excellent piece of documentation on the Stickam site provides all you need to know about supported webcams, drivers required and known issues and problems.
Stickam is in Beta and it is completely free to use for everyone.
Stickam is an innovative communication, promotion, community-building and content distribution service which has lots of potential going for it.
While each profile inside Stickam gets automatically an RSS feed, I would happily see RSS integration and display through the Stickam widget. An additional RSS icon should allow me to add a number of selected feeds to my Stickam player and to have them display their output (separately or mixed together) on it.
I think that one of Stickam strongest opportunities is in letting more of their user-generated content move to more web pages and blogs without imposing barriers on it. That is why I would like to see Stickam allow publishers and users to be able to easily share and republish content from other users if not entire Stickam widgets of other users.
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