stream or streaming

a.k.a. streaming media, streaming audio, streaming video, a stream, online feed, real-time Web, YouTuber

To "stream" something over the Internet means to transmit a media clip (which could be audio, video or both), over a network, for immediate playback. "Streaming" is a data transfer technique that allows users to see video and hear audio files without lengthy download times (even though it may take time to buffer).

A stream is the live flow of digital information. Here's how it works: A host streams small packets of information over the Internet to the user, who accesses the content as it is received but the data resides on the server. Content creators like streaming video because unlike downloads, it never resides on a viewer's computer and therefore, usually cannot be replayed as a downloaded file.

Some examples of streaming media include live tickers (like you see on Wall Street), net radio broadcasts, podcasts, Internet video, and webcasts. As a flow of data, a stream is measured in kilobits per second (Kbps). Before YouTube, users needed a media player or plugin to view most video streams, not anymore. See video for a historical perspective on YouTube.

Historical perspective: John Borthwick, a VC from Betaworks, identified streams as the "real-time Web" and likens it to a new metaphor -- think streams vs. pages. In the initial design of the Web, reading and writing were given equal consideration yet the primary metaphor of the Web has been pages and reading. The metaphors we used to circumscribe this possibility set were mostly drawn from books and architecture (pages, browser, sites etc.). Most of these metaphors were static and one way. The steam metaphor is fundamentally different. It's dynamic, like a river or a stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information -- that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe we are a part of this flow.

NetLingo Classification: Net Technology
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