Barack Obama's inaugural committee has pledged to make his inauguration the most "accessible" in history, and that applies to folks who can't be there too. If you're going to be one of the millions watching the historic event, here are your options:
On TV station websites
Television channels from around the world have lined up with loads of compelling coverage. So you've got a very wide range of choices: CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, C-SPAN and BBC - all of them will stream live video feeds from the ceremony.
On video sharing websites
Video sharing sites are also getting the inauguration fever. Hulu will be live-streaming CBS' and Fox Broadcast's stream and can be found right on the site's main page. After the ceremony ends, all streams will be available on-demand on Hulu. Joost will also stream CBS's inauguration feed and also offers extensive coverage from EuroNews.
On your iPhone
Ustream, a live video streaming website, has launched this week a new application for iPhone users. The new app lets you watch all of the site's streams, including Ustream's coverage of the inauguration ceremony. Ustream has a camera on the The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, where they have a great view of the Nation's Capitol.
Software on your computer
Livestation is a multi-platform application (PC, MAC, Linux) which lets you watch live streams of Al Jazeera English, C-SPAN, EuroNews, France24, and ITN (UK). Fortunately, all these stations will have special coverage of Obama's inauguration, so you can switch between a variety of international perspectives. I've tested this application and it runs quite smoothly on a regular Internet connection. The downside though, is that the video cannot be played in full screen.
On newspaper websites
CNN and Facebook
CNN and Facebook have created a Web 2.0 tool that allows you to watch the CNN video feeds and use Facebook to comment on the goings-on and comment on your friends' comments. You can also link to various sources of media coverage, or post images. All of this will happen at CNN.com Live. The CNN/Facebook coverage begins at 8 am EST, with the swearing-in ceremony at 12 pm EST (5 pm GMT), followed immediately by Obama's inauguration speech.
Though broadcasters can air only one video feed at a time on a single TV channel, they will likely have four or five separate crews on the ground in DC creating multiple other feeds. Often at sites such as CNN's, you can choose which feed you want to watch at a given time, and switch around. Advantage: Web video.
The official Inaugural YouTube group already has numerous videos posted in advance of the event, but the real reason for tuning in there is the possibility of seeing some behind-the-scenes footage shot and uploaded by members of Obama's staff. We saw some interesting footage that was shot just before Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last summer.
Of course, the setup also has a social element. If you are a YouTube member, you can log in and join the Presidential Inaugural Committee group; afterward, if you wish, you can post your own videos or comment on the ones that are up.
The Obama team has a fetish for text messaging, as everyone saw throughout the campaign, and the organisation is at it again with the inauguration. The Obama people will be sending out text messages (and e-mail) to people attending the inauguration, starting before the weekend and continuing through Tuesday. These messages, the Obama people say, will be updates on events happening throughout the capital. It might be fun to sign up for the updates and pretend you're there.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee will also be updating a Flickr photo stream throughout the day.
Twittering the Inauguration
The Obama team hasn't forgotten its Twitter-using friends, either. The "Official Presidential Inaugural Committee" Twitter group gives you a way to do your own play-by-play of the event, and to mix it up with other Twitterers. The group has about 3000 "followers" at the time of this writing, and it will probably grow over the weekend.
If you're sitting at your desk at work, remember that Twitter can be a significant time-sink. On the plus side, using Twitter is a great way to read about the inauguration-day experiences of nonmedia types.
NPR and Citizen Journalism
Speaking of citizen journalism, NPR and Current.tv have established a couple of tags for people to use while microblogging before and during the inauguration. Thousands of people on their way to Washington DC are already tweeting and labelling their tweets with the "#dctrip09" tag. Another tag, "#inaug09", is for microblogger use during the inaugural ceremonies.
By searching for these tags on Twitter, you can follow the all the microblogs. The tags can be used on other sites, like Flickr and YouTube, too, so you can follow the photo and video submissions of the inauguration over there, as well.
Try the Hometown Paper
For the best inauguration day coverage, it's a good idea to turn to the Washington Post, which will be offering a hometown perspective on the inauguration. Not only is the Post covering the event up close, it also has a lot of multimedia tools to convey what being there in person is like.
And you can get to the info in one click: The Post has a great team of interactive-news producers, and this time they've come up with a special inauguration-coverage widget that you can install on your Web page or blog and click throughout the day. It's not a live stream of information; rather, it refreshes frequently, every time news happens.
If you'll be at work on inauguration day, you might find this a handy little tool to have around. One good strategy is to click on the Post's link every now and then before noon eastern time, and then tune in (on TV, or at CNN.com or another Webcaster) for the swearing-in and Obama's speech.
Local Web 2.0 Sites
I also found a couple of lesser-known mashup sites that are designed to help visitors to Washington, DC, make sense of it all on inauguration weekend. They're fun to use from afar to get some local color, too.
The first, Navigating Washington, provides a map of the area, with flags marking the locations of events throughout the weekend. Each clickable flag provides a pop-up box containing further information about the event. The site also has a cool feature that allows you to read notes from people from around the world on their way to DC, describing their experience. A mobile version of the site lets visitors get information while they're moving around in the city.
The second, DC Historic Tours, provides a proper warm-up for anyone preparing for a trip to the city. Among other things, it offers a detailed map view of the inaugural parade route, with pop-up information about landmarks along the way.
Tuning In While Mobile
You have several options if you find yourself on the go during the inauguration. And by the looks of things, many more people will be watching in this way than ever before.
MobiTV, which provides mobile content to 20 mobile networks, including AT&T, Alltel, and Sprint, says it is busy beefing up its servers for a big mobile-traffic load on Tuesday. The company says its mobile-TV service saw record numbers of subscribers during the presidential debates, and it expects a similar subscription rate for the inauguration.
Of course, other mobile video providers are around (MobiTV competes with Qualcomm's MediaFLO and nontraditional services like SlingPlayer Mobile), but MobiTV's numbers are a testament to the idea that America is increasingly watching live TV events on mobile devices.
So if you're out and about on inauguration day, chances are pretty high that you can find decent coverage of the event as part of your mobile video package.