Social media has morphed from a series of interactive platforms–particularly blogging–to a series of interactive, immediate
platforms. We can share information, from the trivial (“I’m eating a sandwich”) to the vital (Twitter messages about San
Diego fires), instantly, across the planet. One of the more influential effects of this immediate communications is the live-blogging of events.
I use the term “blogging” loosely, as the new platforms have succeeded blogging as ways to get a series of short updates quickly to any number of people. This has been on my mind lately chiefly due to the recent Society of New Communications
Research (SNCR) symposium in Boston on December 6, where I did some live “blogging” myself along with a number of colleagues. These “blog” posts mainly took the form of dispatches on Twitter, the popular microblogging platform, but also took me through other media, particularly the new service Seesmic and a trip through Second Life.
The problem with live blogging
Live blogging has been controversial, mostly because of the concern of proprietary live information–paid content–getting out to people who haven’t paid. This issue came up earlier this year at the NCAA baseball tournament. Louisville Courier-Journal writer Brian Bennett was removed for live-blogging the game for the paper. Why? Apparently the NCAA was concerned about a violation of their exclusive rights to the live broadcast. “The accounts and descriptions of this game…” and all that official
stuff you hear every time you tune into to a sports broadcast, apparently they carry some weight.
This same concern has crossed into the conference world as well. Corporations such as Apple, wanting to hold onto control over how their announcements get to the public, have tried to keep bloggers from reporting live from their annual conferences in the past. Other brouhahas have brewed up in the past as well. The same worry about paid content getting out the door in real time cropped up among complaints about live blogging at a recent Ragan Communications event. As you will see from the link, Steve Crescenzo raised another issue; what about the accuracy of bloggers writing dispatches in real time?
Indeed, what about the ability to pay attention to the speakers and panelists you paid to see and still blog/Twitter/Utterz/Flickr/Seesmic etc? One could argue that in order to write something of any value, you need to pay attention. Of course, in reality it is a balancing act.
Live blogging success
Despite the objections to live blogging, it has become more prevalent and more successful over the course of 2007. Does “Information want to be free?” Maybe it’s more that information is a slave to whoever accesses it, repeats it, and transports
it. Apple must have relented, because otherwise how did Engadget get away with the live-blogging of the Macworld keynote introducing the (gasp!) iPhone (ooh!)? The concurrent Consumer Electronics Show reportedly ground to a virtual halt to
catch the reports of Jobs’ pronouncements.
The real game-changer has been Twitter. The microblogging service actually first broke it big in March, when it spread like juicy rumor throughout the conference attendees, and entertained many of us who were not there and wished we were. From there, people at conferences such as VON, the various PodCamps, Le Web 3, Web 2.0 Expo, and many more, have kept each other
and those on the outside apprised of events, from major pieces of news to blow-by-blow descriptions of keynotes and panels, at best with astute commentary. As a Twitter audience member, I have found these dispatches invaluable. Just last week, a Gilbane event was brought live to me through the “tweets” of Chris Brogan and David Fisher, and I even got a link to the research PowerPoint as it was being presented!
At the SNCR symposium, my fellow social media enthusiasts and I took things to an extreme. A whole table of us, in addition to several other people throughout the audience, were live-twittering the panels and speeches. To experiment further, a few of us, including Laura Fitton and SNCR fellow David Parmet, used the Seesmic video service to work out how this new service could prove useful at live events. The jury is still out, but Laura in particular was able to catch some potential “wow” moments, including a live long-distance ear-scope examination to demonstrate healthcare by Internet, and a demonstration of my explorations of the Second Life worlds as they were being discussed on the stage by a separate panel.
Did closing keynoter Shel Israel good-naturedly wonder aloud at what the heck Laura was doing placing her laptop on the stage? Yup, and that would probably be considered too disruptive at many events. However, the way we report events the people who report them, and when they report have changed forever.
*Doug Haslam is a public relations professional with [Topaz Partners](http://topazpartners.com), specializing in technology clients in the Web 2.0, mobile, online marketing and networking industries. Doug blogs at [Tech PR Gem](http://topazpartners.blogspot.com)s and Gischeleman’s