In July 1969 the world came together to watch a grainy black-and-white image on television of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking mankind's first steps on the moon. But those who watched the Apollo 11 mission were confined to their living rooms.
On October 14, 2012, the online world came together to witness Felix Baumgartner break multiple aerospace records in his Red Bull Stratos mission. And we shared it with each other in real time. Baumgartner traveled higher in a balloon than anyone else—more than 127,800 feet—and from that height he made the highest skydive, breaking a previous record that had stood for more than 50 years. While in free fall, he traveled Mach 1.24—833.9 miles per hour—making him the first human to travel faster than the speed of sound without being inside a craft.
It was riveting to witness, a real-time spectacle live on the web in high definition (HD) that we could share via social networks. Event organizers said more than 130 digital outlets carried the feed live. Another record was broken when it was reported that more than 8 million people watched a live stream on YouTube of the record-breaking event.
I learned about the impending jump on—where else?—Twitter. When I started to watch, the balloon was at about 40,000 feet, so I tweeted to my followers and posted on Facebook. Millions of others did the same. It was great to watch the live YouTube video stream and also keep an eye on the Twitter stream at the same time. ...