Home Is Oprah Going to Save the Internet?

Is Oprah Going to Save the Internet?

Don’t look now but Oprah is at the top of the iTunes podcasting chart. Her discussion series with writer Eckhart Tolle is bringing not just podcasting to her huge audience, she’s doing a ten week “class” by live video with a Silverlight player and Skype discussions. It’s events like this that change the technology landscape.

None of the previously planned scenarios in which these technologies could have been popularized have proven so viable. Using Skype to call people selling things on eBay? Not so much. Could live coverage of the Olympics help Microsoft’s Silverlight catch up with the huge installed base of Adobe Flash users? No, people in the US at least don’t care that much about the Olympics. They care about Oprah.

Before readers let the snark fly, let it be said that Oprah Winfrey is a deeply serious woman. Her brilliance isn’t just cynical manipulation of unthinking middle aged women. Her book club, for example, brings truly great literature to millions. Now she’s helping solve the problem Microsoft faces with Silverlight in challenging the huge installed base enjoyed by Adobe’s Flash.

Making History

The first two weeks have had half a million people watching simultaneously. According to

digital media writer Mari Silbey

, that broke the previous

Live Earth

record of roughly 240k simultaneous streams. Those streams were delivered by Limelight Networks and served up through the

Move Networks

video player. Live interaction with audiences goes on over Skype Video. All the sessions are available afterwords as podcasts on iTunes.

Just like the early adoption of RSS by the New York Times helped legitimize and distribute that technology so essential to the web today, so too will Oprah’s use of podcasting, Silverlight and Skype likely be remembered as a turning point for the platforms of the future.

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