On October 13, 2008, I attended BlogHer DC: The Reach Out Tour. During that day, I tried my hand at live blogging and live tweeting (i.e. blogging and tweeting while the event happens). It was an interesting experience, and to help those who are considering live blogging or tweeting other events, I thought that I would share a few thoughts.
Beth Kanter wrote that "live blogging takes a certain chutzpah and fearlessness." She's right. When you are live blogging, you can't stop to be concerned about every detail of grammar and spelling. Your typing and thoughts won't be perfect, but you've just got to get over it. You can always go back and clean your post up after the session. And for me, it's much easier to clean up a rough post than write a post from scratch. When I wait, there's a good chance I'll never write up the post.
I was a little worried that live blogging would be a distraction or that I'd miss parts of the presentation; however, instead of being distracted, I had to pay attention, synthesize the information, and explain it immediately. I was forced to stay engaged, which I hope will mean that I remember the key points better. And if I don't, I have better than normal notes that I can review. (I really wish that I would have taken up live blogging during college! )
Live tweeting is much easier than live blogging. It's a lot like taking notes, except that you are sharing them with other people. People can respond and ask you questions, whether they are at the conference or not. For people who are at the conference, this can be an amazing tool. Panelists are able to gauge the audience's interest level as well as take questions, and audience members can have their own backchannel conversations about the topic. (Beth Kanter and Jeremiah Owyang both have posts on how a backchannel can change a session.) Live tweeting is also a great way to include people who aren't at the conference. They are able to eavesdrop on the session and get answers to their questions. Participation and ideas aren't just limited to the select people who were chosen or could afford to attend in person.
I had a good experience live blogging and tweeting at BlogHer. It made me really wish that the legal aid and pro bono communities would integrate these communication streams into their conferences. The first step? Make Internet access available in the conference rooms. - K