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How to Live Blog an Event

Posted By Darren Rowse 7th of September 2008 Reader Questions 0 Comments

The subject of live blogging has come up for me three times in the last 24 hours so I thought it might make a good reader discussions.

How would you go about live blogging at a conference?”

That was the question I was just asked – how would you do it? What tools would you use? What strategies would you use to get content online?

PS: as I was about to hit publish on this question an article on this very topic appeared in my RSS feed on Web Worker Daily – Preparing to Live Blog an Event. It’s got some good tips – but what would you add?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I think a “live” event is a good opportunity to get people to check out Twitter or Plurk. So I’ll post something at my blog like this:

    “This weekend I’ll be at [name of conference], and I’ll be live-tweeting all weekend. Most of my updates from the conference will be happening throughout the day at Twitter, with the occasional lengthier post here. Make sure you’re following me on Twitter for live updates from [name of conference]!”

    Usually gets people checking both Twitter and your blog for a couple days straight.

  2. I am looking forward to seeing thoughts on this. I have a few conferences coming up where I will be doing this. I plan to share key ideas from sessions, share the mood and conversation topics of attendees, and share what I think is cool and exciting. I may add live Twittering to it as well!

  3. I have live blogged couple of times..

    The gear i take with me –
    The apple macbook
    A camera – Either video or digital

    Live blogging by writing every stuff that happens there is not very much possible, so i record the things that are talked there with a video camera and then iMovie application helps me edit and create perfect videos in my mac. That is what i do during the break time in the conference and i get time to upload the video during that time gap.

    Also ustream and twitter are 2 different platforms where i live blog small parts of any event.

    *** And coveritlive.com is a great resource helpful in liveblogging with media added, to any blogging platform. I never used it but people say it’s cool.


  4. Becky you touched on one of my first thoughts.. MOOD. The other blog covered tools and equipment pretty well. Me – I’d cover the mood and try to capture the feel for those reading that can’t attend.

    I guess it would take several blogs to cover an event so you would need all the tools… video being very important along with good microphone for interviews.

    I think it would be cool if you could set up appoint for interview with the keynote speakers ahead of time to go along with your session notes.

    Heck sell some autogaphed books of keynote speakers :)

  5. I just hosted my FIRST live blog last night during Stand Up 2 Cancer. I used CoverItLive and that worked great — plus it keeps a replay on your site so people can check it out after the fact.

    The advice I would give? Take advantage of their ‘pre-load’ function and pre-load images, links and polls to post in the live blog with one click — so while you’re at the conference, you can mention what is happening and provide your readers with links to pertinent sites and/or photos of the speakers/presenters, that kind of thing.

  6. I was in touch with someone who did something like this. He went out with a fully loaded laptop and Wi-Fi card and just updated his journal the way he would from home or a coffee bar. Except for the occasional losses of signal (which slowed him down, but didn’t last too long) it went pretty well.

  7. I would like to add, don’t hurry your posts even when the post is time sensitive like this may be. Typically, many bloggers try to be the first to report what has happened at a conference (or any type of news for that manner). Instead, don’t be the first, but be the best. Take your time, re-read your post. Then hit submit when YOU are ready.

  8. Blogging live is huge. People love that stuff.

  9. This is a great topic. I think it’s easy for those of us that are newer to blogging to be stuck on the idea of ‘a post a day’ blogging. So to be introduced to a form that is much more dynamic is very exciting. I don’t have an opinion because I’ve never done it but I look forward to learning more about it.

  10. I just did a live blog of the RNC on Tuesday night for BlogHer.com. I used CoverItLive and loved it. It’s more interactive that just blogging–people can immediately send their questions or comments while you’re covering. Check it out and see if it’s something you’d be interested in if you’re live blogging.

    I’m attending Blog World Expo in a few weeks (can’t wait to see you there!) and will be trying to live blog a few sessions. My concern is how do you balance live blogging with absorbing the info and still being a part of the conversation? I always feel like I’m missing something!

  11. It seems that this was pioneered by the Engadget/Gizmodo guys for Apple conferences, but I’ve also seen TechCrunch doing it, too. Their style is to have everything published with high quality images interspersed and I wish I could figure out what they’re using to do that!

  12. Hi Darren

    this one is a bit tricky question for a new blogger like me

    but its a great thought provoking idea (you never know when you’ll use it)

    anyway if i were you (the Pro Blogger with great blogger network ) i would have asked my blogger friends to write a guest post or two for me and time stamp them for future publishing

    or i would have made few question answer type post, and answer my readers questions which they have asked me in different post

  13. I regtularly partake in live blogs associated with my interest and site niche. The first live blog uses CoverIt Live, and for those who don’t moderate can either access the free service via CoverIt’s site or through the app-thingy that gets inbeded in posts at the hosts (and moderators) sites.

    The second live blog is perhaps a little more interesting, and is hosted by Sidepodcast.com. The owner of ehst ite has written his own AJAX app so comments show up almost immediately without refresh. The guy behind the code has prmised to release it to the wild (as a WordPress plugin) in the future when the kinks are ironed out.

    Suffice to say, both work really well. CoverIt Live allow votes, pictures, videos, whatever to be embedded in the live flow and although it can get a bit hectic when comments are flying around, it is great fun. Sidepodcast’s version also has the making of something great, as it can be used on your own site, styled the way you wish and uses the same process as the regular blog – it’s just much, much faster.

    CoverIt Live
    And example of Sidepodcast’s Live Blog – They managed an incredible 1500 comments over the British Grand Prix race.

  14. Didn’t John Chow go to China to blog live about the Olympics?

  15. I agree with Tagliaebe.
    CoverItLive.com is an awesome tool. I used it a few months back in its simplist form to live-blog an international poetry slam using my cell phone. I could even upload pictures real-time for viewers to see.

    You can view how it turned out here: http://CloudyDayArt.com/live (only blog-spamming to show functionality)


  16. I second Tagliaerbe’s recommendation for http://www.coveritlive.com

    I belong to an online digital (pause, lol) journalist group and a number of them who do live events are using this software, along with a flip camera so they can stream video, on the fly. Many appear to be having great success with it. And best of all it’s free (for the moment). I have an account registered but I haven’t had an event that I’ve though worth doing it yet.

    btw, did anybody read the article about Red One in last month’s Wired Magazine? It is amazing the things they are doing with digital film these days.

  17. Make sure you double-check beforehand that you will have internet access!

    I went in July to a national autism conference being held at a fairly new hotel/conference center in Orlando (Gaylord Palms) that boasted all over it’s website about its high-tech facilities and wifi, etc. I was planning on live-blogging the event.

    I called two days before the conference to ensure that there was nothing I needed to know about the technical specs of the wifi system, or that I didn’t need to pre-register. It turned out that in the conference center part of the building, there was a “small” charge for internet access via wifi – $600 per event!!!

    My outrage at this charge was greeted with the explanation that “but there’s free wifi in the hotel itself, you can get access THERE.” No one seemed to understand that there are conference attendees like myself who might actually need internet access *during* an event’s activities. I have attended conferences at many different hotels and centers and I’ve never been in one that didn’t have access available to attendees for a reasonable charge of around $10-20/day.

    Apparently this place is technologically backwards, can’t understand that vendors aren’t the only ones who need computer access – and intent on gouging the vendors for the privilege of having it. And they can’t be the only ones out there.

    On another note, your technology doesn’t have to be fancy if you plan ahead carefully. I once live-blogged a scrapbooking industry tradeshow for several days using only a Palm T/X (which has wi-fi), convention center wi-fi, the Typepad App for Palm, and my point-and-shoot camera.

    I swapped my SD card in and out of my camera and Palm to upload photos from the camera to the blog, and I used a portable keyboard to make typing one or two sentences to go with the photos easier. (The photos were really what my readers wanted – to see the new products.)

    My entries were short, just a photo and a sentence or two, but I was able to bring the show to my readers without hauling my laptop across the country and around the show floor all day!

  18. I also believe that twitter/plurk/friendfeed is a great way to communicate. The setup of these services is perfect to update a large amount of people with a simple message.

  19. Actually blogging means our personal experience. Blogging is the direct way of approach to people.
    Let us take an example: Amitabh bachan started bloggin.. He said ” i can approach directly to people. I want people to know what is my past.. Media is the thing which creates barrier b/w me and people”

    Hey darran .. I am blogger. I know what to present and what not..Instead of this i have to earn money while blogging…

  20. I have done a fair bit of blogging from the road for my mountain biking blog (see my sig link above for an example). I have used my cheap mobile phone to take some admittedly low-quality pictures, and then posted them using the WordPress Postie plugin, which allows you to post in the form of an email – very handy. I have used this to post from the road on some long mountain-biking treks across Serbia, where I live.

    There are quite a few pros and cons (I’ll write that guest post some time!) but the main issues are battery life (if you are doing it from the wilds like me) and difficulty in typing a long post using a cellphone number pad. On the other hand there is a certain something about posting “live” from the top of a mountain, and you can take a mobile phone just about anywhere!

  21. Well before blogging came along as a phenomenon on the internet I was using voice recognition technology to help me to write articles for various media. Quite often I would be asked to write something for someone at very short notice, in fact this is pretty much the only reason I would be contacted. Anyway, the call would come in and I would be told that I need to produce a thousand word article on a particular subject within a short timeframe, sometimes it would be within an hour (but usually it would be about 2 to 3 hours). The only reason I got the jobs was because in the main I could turn around something quickly that was unique and made (some) sense. When the customers were up against a deadline they would pay me quite well if I could deliver and the relief at the end of the telephone when I said ”no problem” was often quite palpable. Getting back to the point, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking for several years and it is a fantastic tool. What I have done recently is bought an Olympus voice recorder (VN-2100PC) and started to record voice notes to this rather than to talk directly to my PC or laptop. I have found that this has worked much better for me and in particular the accuracy has improved. I think this is because the recorder has a better microphone and translates my voice to electronic information more efficiently (than the PC headset did). What this does do, and bear in mind that you do need to record your voice file in a quiet place without background noise, is mean that I can write a substantial number of words, very quickly. I would recommend it to anyone and once you have spent half an hour or so training the software you will really never look back.

  22. I’m looking to live blog the VMAs….any tips? Should I publish a ton of posts for the evening? Or just one long one? I figured commercial breaks will be used for searching for youtube content or pictures.

    Any helpful hints I should know about covering a TV event?

  23. CoverItLive.com is great for doing a TV event. You can even embed pictures and videos right into the live blog. I’d highly recommend it.

  24. Cindy and I just live blogged AgNite at the RNC: http://agwired.com/category/agnite/. Just prior to that I did the same at the Farm Progress Show: http://agwired.com/category/farm-progress-show/.

    We incorporate Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, the AgWired Blog, Ustream.tv, 12seconds.tv, and lots of uploaded audio interviews included in blog posts using a flash player.

    One of the main considerations is internet access. It’s hard to believe but sometimes clients are paying to have you come to their event and blog it but overlook your need for stable high speed internet access. This happened at AgNite but we worked around it by going to the bar next door. Not convenient, but we got content published.

    I am traveling about 220 days/year live blogging mostly ag events. Next week Cindy and I will be in Austria and Slovenia.

    You’ve got to love a job that lets you indulge your photographic, audio, video creativity on behalf of your clients!

    Besides our own blogs (4 of them) we also manage and post content on about 15 more that we’ve designed and host for other companies.

    Not bad for a husband/wife blogging/podcasting team!

    Darren, you’ve been someone that I’ve looked to since I got this going as a prime resource to help “get it.” I think I’ve got it now.

  25. I coded my own system. It works as follows:

    First, I enter all of the Twitter users which will be covering the event. Whenever I hit activate on my site, it will continually scan those users RSS feeds for any updates, which it copies into a database, and loads on to my site. Then whenever we’re done, I just go to my site and hit end.

    That way even if I don’t have internet access, it’ll still update my site live, as long as I can text message.

    The next step for the system is to have it check Flickr accounts as well, since my phone, and others, can upload straight to Flickr.

  26. I liveblogged Nokia World 2007 last year using a combination of Truphone (for voice access over the conference’s WiFi) and Spinvox, which translated my voice messages into text, and posted them on Jaiku, a popular microblogging service (they do Twitter, too).

    I found this was the best as I was able to do so on the go, without having to stop and type anything out. I could speak my updates while scanning the room for my next thing, rather than walking (or worse, sitting) with my head down, missing out on action.


  27. I’m confused about what exactly you mean from live blogging??

  28. I did a post last year on preparing to attend an event that you plan to blog (http://tinyurl.com/62jyfm) and in doing that research came across a fantastic post by Ethan Zuckerman who publishes “My Heart’s In Accra” It’s here: http://tinyurl.com/2vdgqe

    My personal interest is in blogging live sports, spec. college baseball. But, the NCAA frowns on that, so it’s not allowed.

    I’m wondering how many batteries you have to haul along? My dies after about 50 min.

    Great topic – thank you.

  29. Helpful post, as always, Darren. How you manage to do this, be a dad, help run b5media, etc etc, never ceases to amaze me!

    Josh Hallett did a great post on live blogging, early last year. It’s kind of industrial strength live blogging – as in maybe even get paid for it, have a team etc – but there is plenty to chew on for those of us thinking about live blogging on a more modest scale: http://tinyurl.com/liveblogging

    Gavin Heaton shares his CoverItLive stream from a conference early this year, here http://tinyurl.com/livebloggingt2 In a comment on my blog where I mentioned this he described the experience of using CoverItLive as “awesome”.

    I’m thinking seriously of setting up CoverItLive and using it to blog from BlogWorldExpo next week. Thanks to Karen Lynch for the tip above about pre-loading pics of speakers etc (there are pics on the BlogWorld site).

  30. Thanks for linking to my initial post about live blogging equipment. This whole discussion inspired another post about the non-tech aspects of live blogging:


    Love your blog!!

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