Last week I received a tweet from Andy Powell announcing that he would be live-blogging at the Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) conference. On Friday, on the morning of the event, Andy sent another tweet saying that the live-blog was available on Eduserver’s new Livewire service. And so I went along (to the Web site, not to London for the event!) and read Andy’s comments on one or two of the presentations and the comments made by others.

We’re seeing increasing examples of ‘amplified conferences’ in which commentary on the talks is being made available to people who aren’t physically present.  This is even more effective if the event provides streaming video of the talks (which can, of course, be expensive) and if the slides used by the speakers are made available to the remote audience on services such as Slideshare.

I’m really pleased to see this happening and it’s good to see the approaches which are being taken by Eduserv. I think this is a good example of on-the-fly professional development. And it is particularly pleasing to see this example of openness – a participant at a conference who is happy to make notes on the talks and to share them with others. As Andy subsequently told me he has “have taken a decision to live blog most of the events that I attend“.

I’d like to make some suggestions for those who are involved in providing live blogging services at events:

  • Provide a clear statement of the rights issues, such as “Please note that this live blog is open to everyone. Any comments you make on this service will have a Creative Commons licence“.
  • Provide occasional statistics on the numbers of participants, if this isn’t provided by the software.
  • Clarification of the status of the live-blog and ensure that any possible conflicts with other live-blogs are addressed (i.e. avoiding having multiple live blogs which fragment discussions).
  • Clarification of whether the reporter is providing a neutral commentary on what the speakers are saying, or is giving personal comments on the talks.

I should add that Andy’s comments on the FOTE event did include his personal opinions including his final conclusions: “i think there have been some very good talks today and some very bad talks.  on balance, i think it has been a good and useful day.  as i mentioned, i think that suppliers (with the exception of huddle guy) have a tendency to talk down to the audience – we know the world is changing – what we want is help in thinking about how to respond“. In addition Andy’s also provided his opinions on the talks.  This was fine for me and, I suspect, those who know Andy, and helped to generate discussion and debate. But in other contexts I could envisage that this might cause problems. And

Are there other suggestions which others would like to make?

One final question. Do we have a clear understanding of what we mean by live-blogging? This to me seems more like a messaging environment.  How should we refer to a blog which is taken during a talk and published immediately afterwards, such as Chris Rusbridge’s report on sessions at the IPRES 2008 conference?