Live Web

Fall 2009
Thursdays 3:30 to 6:00
Room 447

Instructor: Shawn Van Every
Office Hours: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4PM to 5PM or by appointment
Office Hours Sign-up
Class Wiki
Delicious Tag liveweb


The World Wide Web has grown up to be a great platform for asynchronous communication such as email and message boards. More recently this has extended into media posting and sharing. With the rise of broadband, more powerful computers and the prevalence networked media devices, synchronous communications have become more viable. Streaming media, audio and video conference rooms and text based chat give us the ability to create content and services tailored to a live audience. During this course, we focus on the types of content and interaction that can be supported through these technologies as well as explore new concepts around participation with a live distributed audience. In this course, we look at new and existing platforms for live communication on the web. We leverage existing services and use Flash, PHP, AJAX and possibly Processing/Java to develop our own solutions. Experience with ActionScript/Flash, PHP/MySQL and HTML/ JavaScript are helpful but not required.


Grades will be determined according to the following breakdown:


It is expected that everyone in the class will create and maintain a blog for their assignments.

Be sure to enter your name, preferred email address and the URL to your blog (you can always edit this later) on the class wiki.


This class is very participatory in nature and discussions will certainly take place outside of the classroom. Along with the blog, one of the primary vehicles for these discussions (as well as administrative issues) will be the listserv.

Laptops and WiFi

I love having WiFi available and I think it is a valuable tool for use in the classroom. Unfortunately, it can very easily be a distraction as well. We are going to be exploring a variety of models for live interaction online and therefore laptops will prove very useful. We should though be courteous to one another and when we have outside guests, during discussion or student presentations laptops use should be curtailed.

Weekly Assignments

We will have weekly assignments that are relevant to material from the previous class. Due to the nature of the assignments, it is likely that you will want to work with other students as well as participate with the projects of your fellow students as "audience" members.


Attendance is mandatory. Please inform me via email if you are going to miss a class. Habitually showing up late for class or an excessive number of absences will adversely affect your grade.

Class Participation

As if I haven't said this enough. This class will be participatory, you are expected to participate in discussions and give feedback to other students both in class and participate with their projects. This (along with attendance) is 20% of your overall grade.

Storytelling Project

Starting on the 3rd class, we will have weekly student projects. I will divide the class up into groups and each week one or two groups will give a 15 minute storytelling demonstration utilizing technology from the previous class (chat, audio streaming, video streaming and so on).

Final Projects

Class will culminate final projects. It is expected that these will be both technology and content driven. Projects such as the development of a tool or a vehicle for live interaction will be considered but should be used in combination with content elements.


I will periodically assign readings (handouts and/or online articles). I will be updating the delicious tag "liveweb" (my liveweb bookmarks) with various sites and articles. Please feel free to use this tag as well. These bookmarks should make good material for further study, papers and presentations.

Class Schedule

Class 1: Thursday, September 10

Introduction: History of Live Media (online and offline), What is the "live" web? Synchronous vs. Asynchronous and so on..
  • Read Chapter 4 of Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky (class handout)
  • Sign up for listserv
  • Enter blog and email address on wiki
  • Tell your story via a text based synchronous medium online: IRC, Twitter, A public web chat room or IM. Write up your experiences in a blog entry. Pay particular attention to what worked and what didn't. Who was your audience? How big was it? How did you respond to them? What did you do differently than you would have done in person? How does the medium you choose to work with modify what you can and how you do?

  • Class 2: Thursday, September 17

    JavaScript/AJAX 101
    Chat: Web based
  • Using JavaScript and AJAX (and possibly PHP), create an application which allows you to control and change the content that someone else is viewing on your site. Perhaps something like you directing a slide show or taking them through different web pages.

  • Class 3: Thursday, September 24

    Emulating Radio: Audio Streaming MP3, Icecast, Internet Radio
  • Develop a page with a Flash or QuickTime embed of a live Icecast stream. Perhaps add a chat interface and have some people come and have a listen.. Push it.. What can you do?
  • Investigate existing internet radio stations and give an impression on your blog regarding their level of interactivity/audience engagement and so on. (Checking out RAIN (the Radio and Internet Newsletter) might be a good place to start.)

  • Class 4: Thursday, October 1

    Emulating TV: Video Streaming QuickTime, Flash, Network Models, Cameras, Encoders, Servers, Codecs..
  • Develop a page with a Flash or QuickTime embed of a live stream.
  • Investigate some uses of live streams online. What are they missing? What are they doing right? Write a quick blog post.

  • Class 5: Thursday, October 8

    Involving Everyone: Two Way Audio/Video: Flash Media Server, Video Conferencing
    Midterm Discussion
  • Get up to speed with Flash connecting to the Flash Media Server and broadcasting/receiving video.
  • Come up with ideas to discuss in class next week related to the midterm. Post them to your blog.

  • Class 6: Thursday, October 15

    Midterm Discussion
    Flash Media Server Review
  • MIDTERM PROJECT: Work individually or in groups. We will do show and tell next week so be prepared with what the overall idea is, why you are doing it, be able to show the project in action and produce documentation on your blog.

  • Class 7: Thursday, October 22

    Midterms Due

    Class 8: Thursday, October 29

    Going Beyond: Streaming Other Data: Flash Media Server 2: SharedObjects: Whiteboards
    AJAX Canvas drawing and sharing
  • Enhance one of your previous projects using either a shared object in Flash or a canvas in HTML/JavaScript.

  • Class 9: Thursday, November 5

    On the Go: Telephony: Video, SMS, and Voice

    Class 10: Thursday, November 12

    Guest: TBD
    Streaming Devices: IP Cameras, Remote Control, Webcams and more..

    Class 11: Thursday, November 19

    Livestream Field Trip
    Additional Topics

    Class 12: Thursday, December 3

    Final Project Proposals

    Class 13: Thursday, December 10

    Final Project Workshop

    Class 14: Thursday, December 17

    Final Project Presentations - Expect Guests