Bob Sullivan / msnbc.com
Tim Pool at Zuccotti Park.
The revolution will be Ustreamed.
When police ran Occupy Wall Street protestors out of Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night on Tuesday, there was really only one way to watch it live: On Tim Pool's "TheOther99" video stream. Pool, armed only with a cellphone and donated backup batteries, filmed the event through the night. He hosted the coverage news anchor style, the way Brian Williams would, talking almost continuously, stopping occasionally to conduct interviews.
It might have looked a bit like grainy home video, but Pool had a sizable international audience. His Ustream.TV "channel" had, at various times, more than 20,000 simultaneous viewers, an audience some cable channels might envy. The audience exploded when word went out across Twitter that Pool’s stream was the best way to watch the protests online.
When I met Tim Tuesday afternoon, he'd been "on the air" continually for nearly 16 hours. And while plenty of video streams have come and gone during the protests, Pool’s broadcast earned him a lot of credibility with protesters, and he was still going strong into the evening.
"Other than my hand cramping up from holding up the phone, I feel pretty good," he said. He hadn't gone dark, or gone to the bathroom, that entire time. "I do really need a piece of fruit, though," he added.
Pool, from Chicago, has been at the Occupy Wall Street protest from the start. He said had no experience hosting a TV show or live stream, but honed his ability to fill air time with talk during the past two months while documenting the protest. Anyone -- including police officers and foul-mouthed protesters -- who walked near Pool risked being broadcast instantly to the world.
Pool spent most of the time Tuesday morning running after crowds of evicted protesters as they tried to reorganize, or showing live video of sanitation workers gathering tents and other personal items in the park for disposal. He rarely turned the camera on himself.
"I'm here to document what's going on," he said. "I've been doing this since the beginning."
Bob Sullivan / msnbc.com
Tim Pool uses simple equipment to "broadcast" live video of the protest on the Internet.
What Pool’s doing is vaguely similar to what’s called “lifecasting,” where individuals chronicle their lives online through a continual video stream or similar real-time techniques. The difference is this: Pool’s all-night broadcast on Tuesday morning was riveting.
The quality of his video stream -- both in content and technology -- is surprisingly good. And the simplicity of his gear can't be beat. He's using a Samsung Galaxy S2 on Sprint's 4G network to stream video, using the onboard camera and microphone to record, and connecting the phone to a small but powerful backup battery. If you want to know, it’s an "Energi to Go" 18,000 battery produced by Energizer which provides 18,000 milliamp hours (roughly 10 cell phone charging cycles). When his backup battery drained dangerously low, he put out a plea for help on his stream and received two more donated batteries.
"That's why I've been able to keep doing this long," he said.
Perhaps the most complicated part of his video gear was the umbrella he had to raise to protect his gear Tuesday night when rain began falling in lower Manhattan. But by that time, police had allowed protesters back into Zuccotti Park, and Pool wasn't about to let a little rain get in the way of his broadcast.