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CoverItLive gets live video support, of a sort

Service adds easy way to embed streams from uStream, Qik, Mogulus.

My favorite liveblogging tool, CoverItLive (see Ultimate liveblogging tool: CoverItLive), is set to add support for live video Tuesday. But rather than launch its own video-streaming service, the system now lets authors insert video embeds from uStream, Qik, or Mogulus into a live blog.

This approach gives CoverItLive users flexibility, but at the cost of simplicity of use. The cool thing is that bloggers have a choice of video services. If you are live-blogging a speech, for example, and you have a good view of the stage, you can pop a Webcam onto your laptop and stream it to your viewers via uStream. If you're live-blogging a news event from a desk indoors but the news is happening outside, you can embed someone else's Qik camera phone video instead. Regardless, as soon as you paste in the video embed code from your streaming service, a little window will in your viewers' CoverItLive content windows. They can pop out and expand the video if they wish, or close it.

CoverItLive now lets authors embed live video streams. CoverItLive

The downside is that bloggers will need be logged in to both CoverItLive and their video service to post their own videos into their live blog. That's not a critical flaw, but when you're live-blogging an event and trying to focus on creating great content, dealing with two services at once is a lot to handle.

CoverItLive CEO Keith McSpurren admits that the current level of video integration in the product is a bit of an experiment, done in part because noisy tech bloggers like me were clamoring for it, and in part because adding video via embeds was quite simple. He may add deeper integration in the future, such as integrated sign-ons done in partnership with the streaming companies, if the current experiment is a success.

McSpurren says that only about 20 percent of CoverItLive's use is for covering conferences, where the uStream integration will likely be employed. He told me that he's seeing the most use come from sports and politics coverage, where audiences are larger and where rebroadcasting video is tightly restricted. He's also seen big spikes in usage during disasters, where local news operations have kept live blogs open for hours at a time, to keep readers up to date on road closures, shelter locations, weather conditions, and the like. "Natural disasters have been a strange boon for the business," McSpurren told me.

It's public service live blogging like this where I see the Qik video integration having great human value. If a reporter is live-blogging an event from a newsroom and a reader is on the front lines--driving past firetrucks on the way to a shelter, for example--the writer could easily paste in the reader's Qik embed link to show readers what's happening on the ground. Clearly, this would require that people in highly stressful situations take the time and energy to fire up a cell phone video stream, so I wouldn't expect to see a wildfire live blog overwhelmed with available video streams. But a smart firefighter or police officer might want to provide a livestream to reporters to illustrate the conditions they are facing. See also: NowPublic (Reuters 2.0?), which has a lot of conceptual overlap with this concept.

Other liveblog tools worth looking at include Scribblelive and Google Docs.