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A few days ago, I was thinking about how event television was going away. Even when sports resume, there are only a few events that gain a lot of simultaneous viewership. If India and China were finalists in the World Cup, we’d probably know what a good percentage of the world’s population would be doing for a few particular hours.

Then, I was thinking about historic events being covered live. I thought about how it’d be interesting for my family to see a live space launch. It was something about the danger of a launch, that we’re living in a tiny layer of gas on a molten rock that has an egg shell like hard crust and the only likelihood that we’ll survive as a species for more than a few millennia is if we leave it.

This launch broke a huge mold.

But events like this only happen so often that it’s worth watching live.

Obama’s inauguration. The last hole punched to make the Chunnel.

These events have to follow a few criteria:

  • They must be completed fairly quickly (< 20 minutes)
  • They need to be known well in advance
  • They have to have some global impact
  • They need to be new and optimistic events
  • They need to be visually compelling

The turning on of the Large Hadron Collider was historic but it wasn’t worth watching live. For large infrastructure projects, it might be worth thinking about how the completion of a major milestone can be streamable, even if that might seem vain. It’s not — big projects should inspire the next generation to do big things.

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