By Shaneli Mirpuri
Today’s events are increasingly observed around the world through technology and social media as people share their statuses, blog entries, opinions and pictures. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have long been proponents of this but, as of June 2014, Snapchat became a huge player as well.
Snapchat’s “Our Story” feature allows users at a certain event location to contribute their photos and videos called “Snaps” to the same Story. Those who are not at the event can watch the Story from anywhere around the world, which allows people to gain the experience of an event through their own phones.
Snapchat first introduced this feature in June 2014 at Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival, a 140,000-person dance and music festival, and ever since then has been broadcasting events from around the world. Events that Snapchat has broadcasted include India’s Festival of Lights Diwali, Germany’s festival Oktoberfest, Black Friday, New Years in Delhi and New York and the Golden Globes award show.
What really sets “Our Story” apart is its administration. Through geofencing, Snapchat detects who is actually at an event based on location, and offers them the chance to contribute to the Story. If someone is not within the geofence, they cannot contribute. Snapchat also edits out any spam or objectionable content, as well as boring or low-quality snaps. Whereas on normal Snapchat Stories a person can choose how long the picture will show for, Snapchat cuts down most of its Our Story featured photos to 1-3 seconds.
For most occasions, Snapchat also creates geofilters, which are special filters with text and graphics for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations. Past geofilters for “Our Stories” include “Happy New Year! 2015” with images of balloons and fireworks, “Detroit Car Show” with cartoons of featured cars, and a glittering sign for “Electric Zoo” for New York’s Electronic Music Festival.
Snapchat also holds a particularly strong following among college communities including University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, Pennsylvania State University, and University of Texas, Austin. Our Story highlights weekly football games, which are contributed to by not only the crowd, but also members of the band and football team providing new perspectives to all game-goers. Additionally, there are Campus Stories, which are special Our Stories created particularly for selected college campuses. However, unlike most Our Stories, which can be viewed worldwide, only people whose phones indicate that they are in or around a college campus will be able to post to and view the Campus Story. This feature is a great new medium for college students to share and see what is going on around campus.
Though Twitter delivers some good one-liners and Instagram creates a global scrapbook of photos, Snapchat is the only medium with which you can actually feel like you were at the event yourself. Our Story’s pictures and videos authentically portray the events from the perspectives of dozens of people, which allows you to live vicariously through those who attended.