Posted by: conferencebay | July 25, 2008

Liveblogs! They Multiply Your Conference’s Value

It’s an emerging media all its own. It pays to use it for those unable to visit a conference and many swear by it as even better than video recordings: it’s the conference liveblogs ! The process is known as liveblogging. A blogger present at a conference, streams a synopsis of each presentation, talk-by-talk. That’s on real time, well almost. It’s a serious job, more than a snarky twit about how bad a conference speaker is.

We are a big fan of the conference livebloggers. The best we have around are Ethan Zuckerman who teams up with Bruno Giussani, star livebloggers both, who came up with a free short 3-page PDF booklet on how to blog a conference with effectiveness.

It works very well for the conference blogger to begin with. When you blog a conference it forces you to pay attention. The requisite focus of summarizing each talk clarifies many ideas for the one writing it. With that, the blogger-conference-goer is then able to share. The really nice thing about perfecting this craft is a “free pass to many high-priced conferences”. It’s a cool thing as conference organizers are increasingly looking for first-rate livebloggers to generate press and future attendees.

The recently concluded BlogHer ‘O8 July 18-20, 2008 in San Francisco, CA have put up liveblogs here.

On the other hand, conference organizers are also urged to keep pace with new technologies to innovate on thw way conferences are conducted. Livebloggers of note are able to report on talks at conferences like Pop!Tech, TED, OSCON, All Things D, because they are well organized, interesting and stimulating. Good speakers makes for easy liveblogging — you get to follow a narrative thread that can be easily digested and streamed through blogs and other platforms.

Are you already liveblogging at conferences? Give us a buzz! Feel free to share them in the comments. If you are conference goer keen to give it a try, then this piece from Ethan and Bruno will be your best bet for kickstarting it!

Tips for Conference Bloggers
By Bruno Giussani and Ethan Zuckerman
2007, 3 pages
Available as a PDF from

Some cool excerpts:

  • It’s relatively easy to blog good and great speakers: They follow a narrative path through their talks and speak at a pace the audience can understand. It’s harder to blog inexperienced speakers(because they may be too technical, confusing, fast, etc.) and multispeaker panels (because the discussion can take many different unstructured turns). But you don’t need to transcribe the whole talk, you need to capture the gist of it. A 20-minutes talk can often be summarized in a 20-lines post.
  • Always remember that what you’re writing will be read by people who weren’t in the room, so they haven’t seen the slides, the video, or the gesture. Hence, you have to compensate for the lack of context. Don’t be afraid to create a narrative by saying “He shows a slide with data on …” or “She walks on stage carrying a big suitcase” or “He shows a YouTube video” etc. And if the speaker shows a YouTube video, or a picture, remember that you’re online: Open another browser window, go to YouTube, find that video, and link to it; or go to the speaker’s website, find that picture or another similar or related item, and link to it (or republish the picture within your post). Yes, this requires effective multitasking. It’s at the root of conference blogging.
  • Conferences usually give out a program ahead of time. Use it to prepare for blogging: Do a quick Google search for each speaker, and save (in the same text file) links to their sites, blogs, and the institutions they’re affiliated with; write a one-or-two-sentences “biography” for each; and for the speakers you’ve never heard of, try to get a general sense of who they are and what they do. To write the mini-biography, use also the speaker information distributed by the conference organizers (booklet, website, etc.). For the key speakers, save a picture on your laptop (from their websites) and pre-format it for Web use, in case you will need it. If you prepare sufficiently, you’ve got the first paragraph of each post almost written ahead of time.

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