Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, August 6, 2004

Real-Time Blogging

Real-time blogging was my yesterday experiment. I set-up to cover in real-time the live online conference "State of the E-conferencing Industry:
Today's Issues and Tomorrow's Solution
" organized and presented/moderated by Stephanie Downs of ConferZone. The challenge I had posed to myself was: how do I blog a one hour long real-time event, while it goes on, in a way that makes my blog a complement to what is happening in the event and not a replacement for it? (I invited people to join the conference and listening to it WHILE looking at my real-time blog).

Boy did I discover some great interesting things!

One. To make the blog effectively a real-time page, where each new short item you post appears in front of the eyes of the reader, without requiring her to refresh the page every few seconds the solution is simple: embed the refresh meta tag inside the template governing the page that you are using. That's all. It works like a Swiss clock. I set mine to 60 seconds. That is: every attendee to the conference who had also a browser page open on my real-time blog could see my commentary posts literally pop-up in front of them every minute or so.

Two. The parallel channel enriches the event. As Alex Williams as so rightly pointed out during the event, having blogs, RSS and wikis extend the conversation channels that a conference naturally sparks is absolutely the way to go. Real-time blogs may be a new valuable additions to an already existing trend.

Three. Contextual ads can get a boost in this scenario making their offering more valuable both to the real-time blogger as well as to the readers. By refreshing the page every minute or two automatically, the Google AdSense ads placed in the left column are naturally refreshed, and as in most cases, different relevant vendors and products are displayed each time. So while my reader gets a continuosly updated opinionated commentary of the conference she is following, the contextual on-topic ads that are served next to the latest news item, are updated and refreshed each time. How does that sound to you?

Four. It is a difficult task. To follow the live conference, look rapidly at their slides, while typing, correcting, and posting with a frequency of a post every two-three minutes is a challenging task. What it is even more difficult is to keep a diplomatic but critical perspective on what is being said, as to offer not a live report of what is being said or showcased but rather a lively and opinionated commentary on the points and issues being raised. Be an uninvited panelist!

Five. It is influential. Thouh I didn't email or notify in person any of the conference organizers or participants, and I posted a note about my intention to live blog the event only less than 18 hours before the event started, everyone at the Conference seemed to be aware of this parallel channel running next to them, though no-one would explicitly make any reference to it. The most powerful sign of influence was that attendess to the conference, which I had not contacted or co-opted to help me, spontaneously re-submitted my critical comments, questions and requests for clarifications to the official Q&A area of the live conference, creating a virtual mesh between multiple parallel events in real-time.

To see, now shamefully static, the output of this 60-minutes of ongoing real-time blogging, here is what it came out of it. Now, try to imagine it, refreshing the page automatically in front of you, while showing a new commentary post each item.

What do you think of it?



Robin Good Reports - [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2004-08-08 11:09:49

Heike Philp

Exciting experience too for a reader who watched the world premiere of real-time blogging!

Exciting and at the same time: mentally soothing. Let me explain why.

The first speaker, Dan Rayburn set the theme by talking about streaming media. He did not explain what he meant by that, nor did he provide examples of applications, leaving the listener in the dark as to what this breathtaking technology (hype) actually is all about.

Submitting this question during his talk wasn’t picked up by Stephanie Downs and so it took about 20min until we, the ‘dumb listeners’, received at least a technical explanation of this type of media. Again: no mention of what it is used for, what it is beneficial for, nor any sample applications of it.

This caused a big question mark in my mind and thankfully was echoed in Robin’s blog. His repeated comments on the lack of clarity, the lack of explanation, lifted my spirits and calmed me down.

Beautiful too how Robin mirrored the outcry when one of the panellists mentioned that Europe is 3-5 years (!) behind. What a statement. What an assumption. And a great skilful return by Robin (read 19:06

It has been mentally soothing to follow this real-time blog and it certainly met its objective: (Robin’s quote)

The challenge I had posed to myself was: how do I blog a one hour long real-time event, while it goes on, in a way that makes my blog a complement to what is happening in the event and not a replacement for it?

And here is some feed-back from a humble reader: some recommendations on the refreshing and editing of the posts. With editing I mean ‘adding to the post’. I have not seen Robin take anything out of it afterwards, not even a typo disappeared. He did however, add lines to an already posted comment.

This made me to scroll down after every refresh (refresh rate was well chosen), to see whether the post contained more infos.

My recommendation therefore is:

do not add content to the posts, rather create a new timestamp. A re-editing afterwards such as changing formatting or adding links is definitely ok but should not be done during the event. Otherwise even reading the blog will be a bit too heavy even for multi-tasking individuals.

Well done, Robin, hats for this mega-multi-tasking real-time blogging experience.

posted by Robin Good on Friday, August 6 2004, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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