Live-Blogging vs. Live-Tweeting at Conferences [en]

[fr] Live-tweeter une conférence, c'est l'équivalent d'être actif dans le backchannel IRC de la belle époque des conférences de blogs. Il n'y a rien de mal à ça, mais il ne faut pas confondre ça avec le live-blogging: en effet, passés quelques jours, semaines, mois ou même années, qui va replonger son nez dans le fouillis des tweets ou des logs IRC de telle ou telle journée? Comparez ça avec un article sur un blog, qui sera lu, relu, et encore relu -- qui conserve donc sa valeur une fois que l'excitation du temps réel est passée.

One of the things bloggers brought with them when they started attending conferences is live coverage. Unlike the traditional press, which would provide you with a summary of the proceedings the next day, bloggers would be madly photographing, taking notes, uploading, and hitting publish in the minutes following the end of a presentation.

Live-blogging was born.

(For my personal history with it, see my BlogTalk 2.0 posts (2004) about collaborative note-taking using SubEthaEdit and a wiki, and my notes of LIFT06 (2006). Real proper live-blogging had to wait until LIFT’07 and Martin Roell’s workshop on getting started with consulting (2007), however.)

Then Twitter showed up, and everybody started a-tweeting, and more particularly live-tweeting during conferences.

But live-tweeting does not replace live-blogging. It replaces the IRC backchannel, allowing people to comment on what is going on as it happens, and letting people who are not physically present take part in the fun.

(I’m not going to talk about backchannels here: they’re great, but can also have unpleasant consequences in certain situations. A whole series of blog posts could be devoted to them.)

So when bloggers at conferences neglect their blogs and spend all their time live-tweeting, they are in fact fooling around in the backchannel instead of doing what bloggers do, which is produce content which retains value months, sometimes years, after it was published.

Don’t get me wrong: live-tweeting is fine, so is participation in a more traditional IRC-based backchannel. But don’t confuse it with live-blogging.

Tweets of the moment, just like IRC conversations, tend to be great when consumed in real time. But as the days and weeks go by, they become just as pleasant to read as an IRC log. (Understand: not pleasant at all.)

So, dear bloggers, when you’re at a conference to provide coverage, do not forget who you are. Not everybody is a live-blogger, of course, and some produce very valuable writing about an event they attended once they are home and have allowed the dust to settle.

But tweeting does not replace blogging.

Do you think I got my point across, now? 😉

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16 thoughts on “Live-Blogging vs. Live-Tweeting at Conferences [en]

  1. I think in a nutshell you’ve describe why I read your blog but don’t follow people who behave like you on Twitter, so see things very differently. I do, however, follow a lot of other people most of them tweet carefully, don’t see it as IRC and have a thought for their followers and in some small way to the permanent record. That’s not to judge you, but to raise awareness that your Twitter is not my Twitter.

  2. Paul, I’m curious as to which “you” you’re referring to. Steph, Kevin and I all tweet very differently, so not sure sure which version of twitter you are comparing it to. Everybody’s Twitter is different due to a different set of people…but when you’re trying to follow a conference hashtag that you’re really seeing the impact of what Steph is talking about. Also, I think when you are providing free conference tickets and front section seats for bloggers, you expect some blogging!

  3. I think Paul was referring to me, because your comment was still stuck in moderation with his when I published them both :-)

    And I know I’m a pretty chatty Twitter user, there’s no problem with that!

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