what the heck is digital “streaming”?

Digital StreamingThe traditional definition of “streaming” is “an act or instance of flowing”.

When you apply that concept to digital technology, it is referring to transferring data (audio and video) over a computer network as a steady, continuous flow.

But what does that really mean?

It means that you don’t have to wait anymore to download movies or music and play it on another device. (I’ve never done that but apparently it’s a real pain in the ass.)

Now the media is sent in a continuous stream of data and is played on your computer as it arrives. So anytime you’ve watched a video on your computer, you have “streamed”. Didn’t know you were that cool, did you?

Netflix runs on this technology. Did you know that you don’t have to watch Netflix on your TV? Because you are “streaming” it through your internet, you can watch it on your computer or your ipad. My daughter even watches Netflix on her phone!

(I found this out when I busted her for staying up all night in her room . . . watching her phone?)

Live streaming is big now too. Live streaming is broadcasting live video or audio in real time to an audience that is accessing the stream over the internet.

The US political debates were all live streamed, the PGA Golf Tournament is live streamed and Hockey Night in Canada is live streaming a lot of their games.

You were even able to live stream a lot of the events at the 2014 Olympics.

Note: Streaming needs a strong and fast internet connection and that could cost you. If you don’t have it though, the videos can buffer. Buffering means that the video will stall intermittently; usually displaying a spinning circle of some kind.

I have great internet (I need it for my work) and I still experience buffering every now and again on little videos that I watch occasionally. You know, the one where the puppy is trying not to fall asleep. I love that one!

I can imagine that buffering would be very annoying watching TV or movies on the internet but it can’t be that bad or it wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

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Image courtesy of photoexplorer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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