I’ve written before about the (controversial in some circles) phenomenon of liveblogging: posting notes in near-real-time from a conference.
On Friday, Ethan Zuckerman posted The 5-4-3 double play, or “The Art of Conference Blogging”, including an extensive set of tips on how to do blog from conferences more effectively. As one might expect, it’s a comprehensive list that makes me realize just how underprepared I’ve been in the times I’ve tried to do it.
- The kit: I come to conferences with my beloved Mac, two charged batteries, a power strip, a digital camera and cables, granola bars and a lap desk. . . .
- The location: Bloggers rarely sit in the front row to blog conferences. . . . It’s usually better to sit to a side, near the power plugs. . . .
- Preparation: Conferences usually give you a speaker program ahead of time. Use it. Over breakfast before the day of a conference, I’ll type the names of each speaker and their talk title into a text file. If I’m really good, I’ll do quick Google searches on each of them and link their names to their blogs, research institutions, arrest records, etc. Prepare sufficiently and you’ve got the first paragraph of each post written ahead of time.
- Macros: . . . This is a way of storing pieces of text that you use frequently and linking them to key combinations. . . . Even if you’re composing online, within your blogging platform, or if you don’t feel comfortable setting up macros, it can be a big help to put some useful snippets of text in a text file and cut and paste them into blogposts.
- Keeping Up: I have a hard and fast rule for myself – I complete posts on a conference session within fifteen minutes of the end of that session. . . .
- Hard Talks: . . . Experienced speakers are easy to blog – they follow a narrative path through their talks, speak at a pace the audience can understand, emphasize key points with visuals. . . . It’s much harder to blog inexperienced speakers. . . .
- Use your commenters: Because I’m blogging ten or more talks a day, I get things wrong. Sometimes I get things egregiously wrong. Comments allow other attendees – and sometimes the speakers themselves – to correct me. . . .
- Collaborate: . . . My goal in blogging a conference is not to be the sole, authoritative voice of the blogosphere. It’s to do what I enjoy doing: writing detailed summaries of each sessions. . . . It’s a whole lot more fun to blog these events in groups, even if that means sitting next to someone trying to liveblog at the same time as you are, arguing about how to spell a word the speaker has just uttered.
- Digest: I go to conferences because they give me a wealth of new ideas to wrestle with, sometimes for weeks or months to come. . . . So that I have a chance to wrestle with the big ideas, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll often try to write a summary or reactions post a week after a conference. . . .
- Have Fun: Not everyone enjoys blogging at conferences. I have many friends who’ve tried it and discovered that it stresses them out or detracts from their enjoyment. There’s an easy solution to this: don’t do it. Most people don’t keep score at baseball games. That’s okay, as there’s an official scorekeeper, a scoreboard and at least one journalist in the stands. We don’t need everyone to become a conference liveblogger – just a few more of us.
In a few sessions I took some live notes (see posts tagged OSCON), but in most sessions I just felt like trying to liveblog was getting in the way of enjoyment for me. I posted a few key notes to twitter (as when the OSI announced approval of the CPAL) but didn’t try to keep up with any of the other OSCON twitterers in terms of detail or frequency.
But I did have fun.
Look for some digest / summary / follow up posts over the next few months.