Liveblogging: How do you like it?

After reading Seth Godin’s blog this morning, I have a question. And hey, we’ve mentioned Seth Godin every day this week, why should today been any different, right? Right!

So, Seth brings up the topic of liveblogging today and argues that, for him, the medium doesn’t work because the writer/blogger is writing to remind themselves of what they just witnessed, not to inform the audience. He says:

"…Most people don’t take notes to be read. They take notes to write them. The act of writing things down triggers different areas of our brain, it focuses attention, it makes it easier to remember things. You can read your blog notes later and say, “yeah, I remember that slide…” But for an outsider who’s not there, the amount of information that’s imparted is small indeed. Compare these liveblog posts to posts written an hour later, ones that digest and reflect and chunk the information. These are deliberately designed to inform the reader, not to remind the writer."

I can somewhat see his line of thinking, but I think it depends on the blogger doing the liveblogging. All liveblogging is not created equal. Some bloggers jot down quick notes, others focus on key points, and a crazy few scramble to get down every word. If you’re liveblogging consists simply of "notes" about what just happened, then you’re probably not providing a hell of a lot of information to the reader. But not all liveblogging is like that.

I know that when we liveblog conferences we try really hard to give readers an accurate portrayal of what’s happening, as its happening. I do my best to recount as much of the session as I can, adding commentary where appropriate, and even keeping you abreast of the music playing in the background in case you’d like to set the mood at home. And because I so easily turn into a star struck child, there’s also typically a healthy dose of who just walked in, how cute the guy on the podium is, and how excited I am to be blogging with Kim Krause-Berg again. Our liveblogging is a half conference room/half high school cafeteria.

One thing I found interesting in Seth’s post was the idea that liveblogging is done to remind the writer about what they just saw or heard, not to inform the reader. I somewhat disagree. I can’t speak for other bloggers, but I know when I look back at the 17 sessions I covered at Ad:Tech San Francisco or the 17 sessions at SES New York, sometimes I don’t even remember being there, even after I read it. I remember certain sessions, but I can’t count how many times I’ll read a session recap and give Susan my confused face because I have no memory of that session. At all. Sometimes I fear I’ve been cloned. [Cloned? Why, that’s a ridiculous idea… *nervous laugh* –Susan]

I suppose as someone who does more than her share of liveblogging, and who is scheduled to do some more in less than two weeks, I want to know if you think Seth is right.

Do you have a difficult time making sense our liveblogging? Would you prefer a less-banter, more Search Engine Roundtable approach to the coverage? Should I hang up my laptop and let Susan take over? Would you prefer we take notes and then write up the sessions in the late evening? What do you want out of liveblogging?

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (5)
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5 Replies to “Liveblogging: How do you like it?”


You are like a duck. Calm up top, but paddling like hell underneath the water. :)

@Kim: “you take time to review your notes and edit them into something readable.”
Are you referring to that 20 minute interval between sessions when I’m freaking out and rearranging things like a crazy person? You must be. :)
@Stephen: I very much appreciate the critique. Do you find note-style recaps more useful then (ala SE Roundtable) or would you prefer a more thoughtful post days after the session took place? What would be your preference?
I guess our feeling (or at least my personal feeling) is that you can get note-style recaps from a variety of places, which each blogger focusing on different points. The first three rows at any session are typically filled with bloggers who are jotting down their quick notes and publishing them. We try to provide a more comprehensive look, however, I completely understand you’re feeling that they’re a bit verbose. They can get extremely verbose! I’ll be more aware of that in the future. Thanks again for the comment. :)

To be quite honest, the liveblogging posts are the only ones on your feed that I habitually skip, Bruce. They have a tendency to be dauntingly verbose and generally lacking the, shall we say, density of useful information that I’ve come to expect. For those who care about the minutia of the goings on at the conferences, they certainly provide a thorough recap. However, for those of us who just want tips and news, they can be quite lacking.

Not to sound overly critical, of course. I love this blog and am not about to unsubscribe no matter how many liveblogging posts I have to skip. ;)

The idea of liveblogging so that I would remember a session later has never even occurred to me. I do it because it’s my job for SearchEngineRoundTable and what I agreed to do for that website (and for Barry.) The purpose is to provide some idea of what was covered in sessions for those who don’t have the luxury of being there themselves. Being in that position myself more often than not, liveblogging is a way I pay back those who have covered conferences before me.
For sure, some liveblogging posts are hard to follow. That comes with the territory. Your work, Lisa, is always top notch coverage because you take time to review your notes and edit them into something readable.
A “blogging pool”, as what you, me and some of our friends do together makes the experience fun, even though it’s work :)
As an aside, seeing Seth in person on a panel at SES NYC was really exciting for me. He’s a gifted speaker.

I guess everybody has his own approach towards liveblogging and Seth Godin could certainly be right (he usually is), but it all hangs on your intention when writing. If(!) you are conscious of who you are writing for you can tell people what’s going on while liveblogging just like when you would take notes and told someone else what it was about afterwards. The advantage of liveblogging would be the fact that you can add the high school cafeteria stuff :)

Personally, I gobled up your accounts of the previous 34 sessions you attended and think I got a pretty good idea of what they were about. But I wasn’t there so I’m gonna have to take your word for it. Maybe you should ask someone to read your posts right after a session and see if they understand what you’re rambling on about? Preferably someone the rest of us can trust…


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