Live Earth can make a difference

Live Earth
I watched quite a bit of the Live Earth concert at Wembley Stadium yesterday.

What a great line-up of singers and music for a spectacular event! Not only in London but also in eight other cities around the world.

For me, the absolute highlight of the London gig was Madonna, the closing act of the concert there. What a performance. Now that was entertainment!

You can see the concert, too, as a streaming video recording via MSN is now available, not only from London but also all the other events (note you’ll need to use Internet Explorer to view any of these). And if you’re in the UK, you can watch recordings of the complete BBC1 TV broadcast during the next seven days.

And it looks like a significant milestone has been reached with live video streaming:

[…] As of 3:00 p.m. EDT [on July 7], MSN had received a total of more than 10 million video streams and has the most simultaneous viewers of any online concert ever. Viewers worldwide have already watched the Live Earth concerts via the live webcast, and the LiveEarth.MSN.com audience will only increase. On-demand footage of all performances, along with artist interviews, backstage footage, easy searching capabilities for specific songs, artists and more, will be available from all eight official concerts at LiveEarth.MSN.com for the next several weeks.

So a tremendous day of global entertainment. But will it make any difference to what people think and do about climate change?

If you pay attention to the multitude of critical voices, not much. Negative commentary ranges from accusations that the concerts themselves contribute to global warming to criticism of Madonna’s green credentials.

While I don’t believe that the events will produce a sudden change in overall attitudes to environmental concerns, I do believe that these events do raise awareness of the issues. Whether people choose to act on that raised awareness is a different matter.

Maybe that’s the best expectation from the live concerts.

Where it gets interesting is what looks likely to happen in the days and weeks following yesterday’s events as people share, create and mashup their own content from the digital content that’s openly available.

From a Reuters report on Friday:

“Users can create their own program from all the show assets from around the world,” said Kevin Wall, Live Earth founder and CEO of Control Room which is producing the shows. “They’re going to be able to share those experiences in a way that’s never ever been done in history.”

[…] In the age of Google Inc.’s YouTube, MSN and Control Room realize that providing technology that helps friends share clips of their favorite Live Earth moments on other sites will be even more important than the live event. “When you think about the control we’ve given the user, you could put together your own Live Earth show after the event,” said Joanne Bradford, chief media officer at MSN.

Organizers expect more than 80 percent of the viewership will be on-demand in the days following the July 7 event.

[…] a user could add a video clip of Madonna performing her specially penned song ’Hey You’ to a blog or social network page and add a feature allowing visitors to buy a download with proceeds going to an environmental cause. That flexibility has become possible with the artists agreeing to give up their rights without charge for the cause.

Though details are still being finalized, Wall expects Live Earth to have rights to show the clips for months afterwards.

Now that’s how to create and raise awareness on a global scale – enable it from the grass roots.

If you want to learn about the issues Live Earth is promoting, you’ll find all you need at the Live Earth website.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Rob Safuto

    Unfortunately for IE7 users there seems to be some kind of bug in the streaming player on MSN.com. After watching a couple of videos from the page at http://liveearth.msn.com/artists the browser hangs and has to be restarted. This type of ‘feature’ makes it very hard to create the playlists that the Microsoft folks are talking about.

  2. Armin

    I do believe that these events do raise awareness of the issues.

    I don’t know if I buy into that. Those people who are vaguely interested in the issue or don’t go through their lives with blinkers on will be aware already. For the remaining people who just don’t care this will be just another free concert. They will just fast forward through Al Gore speaking to the next song.

    Every time I hear “raise awareness” I get a bit nervous. That term is turning into a catchphrase, a cliche. Constantly someone is raising awareness for something, our awareness is raised for so many things these days that more and more people probably suffer from awareness overload and just switch off.

  3. neville

    It does make you wonder, Rob, why the folks who are behind the tech aspects of a resource like this, aimed at a very deep, broad and global audience, can’t get the usability right.

    If you try and run the videos in Firefox, for instance, you get an alert telling you to use Internet Explorer.

    Armin, I think it will raise awareness. Not massive, en masse-type awareness raising perhaps, but on an individual, personal level.

    I don’t think anyone can ignore the issue at the heart of an event – a movement almost – like Live Earth. They can choose to not pay attention, but not ignore it.

    I am sure we will see and hear an awful lot more in the coming months about the environment issues Live Earth is focusing on, not only formal type communication but also all the social-driven stuff on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and elsewhere.

    Awareness overload? You may well be right fior many people. But I think some will pay attention and will do their own small parts.

    If enough small parts start doing things, then the politicians and others who need to make things happen on a grand scale may pay attention.

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