Did you ever think that we would utter "Oprah" and "VoIP" in the same sentence?
Well, we are... or more precisely "Oprah" and "Skype". If you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to head over to Skype Journal and read Jim Courtney's piece: "Skype Sponsors Oprah's 'A New Earth' Web Event"
Essentially, Oprah has taken her Book Club online to host a weekly web collaboration session for the next ten weeks with, oh, 750,000 members of her club! More information - and an audio introduction from Oprah - is available on the Skype campaign page. Monday night was the first first session and as Jim subsequently noted (as did Howard Wolinsky on the new Skype US blog), the session didn't go so well with regard to technical issues. As Oprah's company, Harpo Productions (Hint: spell "Harpo" backwards) said in their statement:
Monday night's webcast was one of the largest single online events in the history of the Internet. More than 500,000 people simultaneously logged on to watch Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle live, resulting in 242 Gbps of information moving through the Internet. Unfortunately, some of our users experienced delays in viewing the webcast. We are working to identify the specific causes for the problems experienced and will work diligently to rectify them.
252 Gbps, eh? I think that's bringing new meaning to "disruptive telephony/communication!" I'll have to ask next week at IETF-71 if anyone there ever thought we'd see that kind of throughput! Pretty cool, on one level, but it obviously taxed the Internet a wee bit - or at least the connections into the servers running all of this. They go on to say:
Harpo Productions, Inc., Move Networks and Limelight Networks recognize that interactive Internet broadcasting to a mass audience is still an emerging medium
But as Jim notes in his post, there are some definite wins for Skype here. Apparently the Skype portions of the web conference, which involved people asking questions over Skype High Quality Video, worked very well. There were also apparently some great statements from Oprah about how great she thought Skype was.
Kudos to Skype for getting in there in such a massive event - I can honestly say that I never would have thought I'd be writing about Oprah here. It will be interesting to see how the subsequent sessions go.
And for all us who are not joining in - for the next 9 weeks, Monday nights are probably a good time to stay off the Internet! (You know... read a book... play a game... go for a walk... ;-)