Attention Span and Partial Attention [en]

[fr] Est-ce que l'habitude du multitâches devant l'écran m'a fait perdre mes pouvoirs de concentration? J'ai du mal à  suivre les conférences, alors qu'avec dix ans d'uni, on pourrait considérer que j'ai de l'entraînement...

I spent ten years at university. During those years, I attended lectures on a variety of subject, sometimes from 7am to 8pm, taking notes and understanding most of what was said.

What’s wrong with me now? I can’t seem to follow most of the talks given here. I remember having the same problem at [BlogTalk 2.0](http://blogtalk.net/) a couple of years back. Is it the partial attention thing, because of course, I can’t follow what is being said when I’m typing up a post or chatting in a backchannel. Or uploading photos.

Should I put the computer away and take notes by hand? My writing sucks now, and RSI clearly will prevent me from taking notes during two whole days.

Is it worse that that? Have years of multitasking in front of a screen impaired my ability to concentrate and focus on a single thing? Have I lost the power or the will to concentrate? That, I have to admit, is a scary idea.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just poor audio output in the room (thanks, [Jérôme](http://www.ifeedyou.com/blog/), for making me feel less alone about this) coupled to my usual not-so-good audio input, plus, in some cases, the fact I’m not used to following English spoken by non-native speakers (particularly francophones, because I usually speak French with them)? And the fact that I’m tired?

Oh well. It’s probably a mixture of everything. I wonder if I shouldn’t have posted this on the [Cheese Sandwich Blog](http://steph.wordpress.com) — but it’s a little late for that.

Similar Posts:

After Lunch [en]

[fr] Un bon repas, un peu de difficulté à  suivre les conférences (problèmes d'audio dans la salle? mes mauvaises oreilles?)

Had a nice lunch with [Robert](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/), [Anina](http://www.anina.net/), [Anne Dominique](http://annedominique.wordpress.com/) and [Ben](http://www.shamiro.ch/). Food was nice, conversation too, but God! am I tired. (And I don’t even have jetlag to blame.)

Cory Doctorow talking

Cory’s talking about DRM and stuff. It’s interesting, but I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a real audio quality issue in the room. My hearing is not quite as good as the average person’s, but it doesn’t usually make it difficult for me to follow talks like this. I know I also tend to have trouble “catching” the train of words to follow what somebody is saying. (Call it “keeping in tune” with what is being said, if you like.) So maybe I’m suffering from a conjunction of “could-be-better” audio quality and “could-be-better” ears and listening skills.

Is anybody else in the room having difficulty understanding the speakers?

I think there is weird stuff going on with the wifi too. Is it hopping? Jumping? Flickering? I’m hardly seeing anybody on Bonjour — they come and go — and uploading photos to Flickr is really slow. Are any naughty bloggers in the room using the wifi for P2P stuff?

(And just in case you’re thinking I [complain](http://giussani.typepad.com/loip/2006/02/lift06_opening_.html) too much, I’m having a really nice time here; I’m just looking forward to being able to re-listen to some talks through the (http://www.freestudios.tv/?cdroite=tablo_lift06) made available.)

Similar Posts:

Break Impressions [en]

[fr] C'est la pause!

1. The whole place is teeming with journalists.
2. Sitting in front of Robert was not a good idea if I wanted to spend a quiet break at my place.

Maslow Reloaded

Update: 9 people in the backchannel after the break! We’re growing! Join us in #lift06 on chat.freenode.net (IRC)

Similar Posts:

First Impressions of LIFT'06 [en]

[fr] Premières impressions de LIFT'06.

Venue: not too much trouble finding it, that was nice. [Laurent himself](http://ballpark.ch/blog/) at the ticket desk, that was nice too. [Robert Scoble](http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/) looks younger than I expected (I’m [sitting right in front of him](http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/94458716/ “Robert Scoble’s view of the stage.”), didn’t do it on purpose, promise!).

In Line for LIFT'06

Missing in the conference room:

– water (no drinks allowed apart from water, and all I have in my bag is orange juice, and I’m really thirsty) Update: thanks to [David Galipeau](http://galipeau.blogspot.com/), I’ve found the water fountains now.
– more power strips (yeah, I know)

Missing online (update)

– backchannel? (I’m sitting in #lift06 on chat.freenode.net, just in case)
– live audio?
– people using Bonjour/Rendez-Vous… (I’ve opened and announced a document for [collaborative note-taking in SubEthaEdit](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/08/taking-collaborative-notes-at-blogtalk/)… just in case, feel free to join if you’re at the conference).

I have a huge problem: I totally suck at understanding non-native speakers talking in English (particularly francophones). Isn’t that amazing, given I’m a francophone myself?

Similar Posts:

The Lee Bryant Experiment [en]

An account of the “Lee Bryant Experiment”, where I posted his write-up of his talk into SubEthaEdit bit by bit as he was talking. Some ideas about note-taking, talking, presentations, and write-ups.

[fr] Lorsque Lee Bryant a donné sa conférence à  BlogTalk, j'ai collé la version écrite de ce qu'il disait dans SubEthaEdit, à  mesure qu'il parlait. Cela paraissait une idée intéressante à  expérimenter quand j'ai offert de le faire, mais l'expérience n'était pas concluante. Cela m'a cependant amené à  m'interroger sur les rôles respectifs du discours proprement dit, du support visuel (dias, présentation), de la prise de notes, et de la publication par écrit du contenu d'une conférence.

So, what was this “Lee Bryant Experiment” I was talking about? No, we did not replace Mr. Bryant by a cyborg-lee during the conference so that he could go and have coffee during his own talk. We simply pushed the whole collaborative note-taking experience one step futher.

Lee mentioned during the first afternoon or BlogTalk that his talk was a bit long, and that he was debating whether to rush thr0ugh it or cut stuff out. I of course suggested cutting things out, but then, that meant that some of the things he wanted to say would not reach the audience. Then we had this idea: paste a written, more detailed, version of his talk into SubEthaEdit while he was talking. I offered to do it. We would annotate his notes, and then stick it all up on the wiki. It sounded like a great idea, and a fun thing to do.

I had a few doubts about it in the morning (so had Lee), worried that it would divert the “note-taker’s” attention from what he was actually saying. However, we decided to go ahead and do it, to see what happened.

I didn’t have much trouble keeping up with Lee’s talk and slides and pasting chunks of his text into the common document as he talked. However, I quickly noticed that this completely killed the note-taking. And it got me thinking.

Was that a problem? Is note-taking important, if you get a transcript or detailed paper of the talk afterwards? I think it is. I think that note-taking as a process is important. I know I listen differently whether I am taking notes or not. There is something to be said for reformulating what you’re listening to on the fly. To me, it clearly aids the integration of what is being said. Now, to what extent does collaborative note-taking defeat that? Open question.

Notes are also more succint than the presentation. One interest of note-taking for me is that I summarize in quickly-readable form what I got out of the presentation. Great for refreshing memories.

So yes, I think that was a problem. I don’t think it’s a good idea to give the audience too much text to read during a talk. That goes for slides too. For me, slides should give visual cues to help the audience keep track of where we are in the talk, and what is being said. They shouldn’t contain “stuff to read while you listen” — you can’t read and listen at the same time. If slides are content-heavy, then the talk should be a comment of the slides, and not something done “in parallel with the slides in the background.”

I think a written version of a talk, especially if it is more detailed than the talk itself, should never be made available before or during a talk. I was told that, by the way, in the 3-day project management course I followed while I was at Orange: when presenting something, don’t hand anything out to people unless you want them to stop listening to you.

What would have made more sense, in hindsight, would have been to put up the written version of Lee’s talk on the wiki in parallel with the notes we would have taken, and allow people to comment the paper. Another thing to try, maybe, would be to put only the outline in the SubEthaEdit document — but then, I noticed that when people are writing they rarely scroll down to see what is written below in the document. Note-taking in a text editor does tend to remain a pretty linear operation.

To summarize, I would say that for me, this experiment was a failure. It was not a failure in the sense that we managed to do what had planned to do, and that it worked, but it was a failure in the sense that what we did failed to give any added value to Lee’s talk.

Think otherwise? Open to discussion.

Similar Posts:

Taking Collaborative Notes at BlogTalk [en]

A detailed write-up of the collective note-taking operation we ran at BlogTalk. We took notes together using SubEthaEdit and then posted them to a wiki so that they can be further annotated. The story, and questions this experience raises for me.

As many of you now know, a bunch of us were taking notes together with SubEthaEdit during the BlogTalk 2.0 conference. In this post, I’d like to give some details about what we did, how we did it, and what can be said or learnt about our experience.

I’d like to stress that this was not my idea. I think this collaborative note-taking is a very good example of what happens when you put a bunch of people together with ideas and resources: the result really belongs to all, and credit should go to the group (even though in this case, I don’t think I can identify all the members of this “group”).

The Story

At the beginning of the conference, I was discovering the joys of RendezVous and eagerly saying hi to the small dozen of people I could see online. Sometime during the first panel, I was asked (by Cyprien?) if I had SubEthaEdit, because they were using that to take notes. I downloaded it (thus contributing to the death of wifi and bandwidth), and after a brief struggle managed to display a RendezVous list of users on the network (shortcut: Cmd-K) currently running SubEthaEdit.

I joined Lee Bryant‘s document, which was open for read/write sharing. It contained text (what a surprise!) mainly highlighted in yellow (Lee’s colour, the main note-taker). We were four or five in there at that point. (From Lee’s first publication of the notes I gather that the two others were Roland and Stephan — or rather Leo on Stephan’s computer, like later in the day?) It took a couple of minutes for me to feel comfortable in there, and I started contributing by adding a few links I knew of, on the subject of video blogs. The act of writing in the document made me feel quickly at home with the other note-takers. At some point, I started actively pestering those logged into RendezVous so that they would join us if they had SubEthaEdit (particularly if they were already visible in SubEthaEdit!)

Lee wasn’t there at the beginning of the third panel, so I opened up a document myself in SubEthaEdit, and with a little help managed to open it up to others for reading and writing (File > Access Control > Read/Write) and “announce” it so that other participants could see it. There had already been some hurried talk of publishing our notes, and at some point, Suw (who was keeping up with what was going on on my screen) suggested we should publish them on a wiki. After a quick check with other participants (and with Suw: “you don’t think Joi would mind, do you?”), I grabbed Joi’s wiki and started creating pages and pasting the notes into them.

We continued like that throughout the afternoon and into the next day. As soon as a speaker would have finished and the note-taking seemed to stop, I would copy and paste everything into the wiki.

Update 17:30: Malte took a screenshot of us taking notes in SubEthaEdit. It will give you a good idea of what it was like.

Reflecting on the Experience

So, now that I have told you the story, what can be said about the way we worked together during this conference? I’m trying to raise questions here, and would be really interested in hearing what others have to say.

Working as a team to take notes has clear advantages: Lee was able to go out and get coffee, and catch up with the notes when he came back. When I couldn’t type anymore, Suw took my computer over and literally transcribed the last couple of panels (OK, that could have been done without the collaborative note-taking, but I had to fit it in somewhere.)

Still in the “team theme”, different roles can be taken by the note-takers: sometimes there is a main note-taker (I noticed this had a tendancy to happen when people wrote long sentences, but there might be other factors — any theories on this welcome), sometimes a few people “share” the main note-taking. Some people will correct typos, and rearrange formatting, adding titles, indenting, adding outside links. Some people add personal comments, notes, questions. Others try to round up more participants or spend half a talk fighting with wiki pages 😉

At one point, I felt a little bad as I was missing out on the current talk with all my wiki-activity. But as Suw says about being part of the hivemind, I don’t think it matters. I acted as a facilitator. I brought out notes to people who were not at the conference. I allowed those more actively taking notes to concentrate on that and not worry about the publication. I went out to try and get other/more/new people interested in collaborating with us. I said to Suw: “keep on tzping, and don’t worrz that zour y’s and z’s are all mixed up because of mz swiss kezboard layout,” while Horst patiently changed them back.

What is the ideal number of note-takers in a SubEthaEdit session? Our sessions ranged from 5-10 participants, approximately. When numbers were fewer, a higher proportion were actively participating. When they were larger, there were lots of “lurkers”. Where they watching the others type, or had they just gone off to do something else, confident that there were already enough active note-takers?

The “Lee Bryant Experiment”, which I will blog about later, set me thinking about the nature of note-taking and notes. What purpose do notes serve? Is it useful to watch others taking notes, or does it really add something when you take them yourself? How concise should good notes be? How does a transcript (what Suw was virtually doing) compare to more note-like notes?

Formatting is an issue which could be fixed. SubEthaEdit is a very raw text editor, so we note-takers tend to just indent and visually organise information on our screen. Once pasted in the wiki, though, a lot of that spatial information is lost. It got a bit better once we knew the notes would be wikified, as we integrated some wiki mark-up (like stars for lists) in our notes, from the start. What could be useful is to put a little cheat-sheet of the wiki mark-up to be used inside the SubEthaEdit document, for the note-takers (just as I defined a “chat zone” at the bottom of the working document, so that we could “meta-communicate” without parasiting the notes themselves).

Some have found the notes precious, others wonder if we were smoking anything while we took them. Nobody really seems interested in editing them now they are on the wiki — or is it still a bit too soon after the conference? Here is the Technorati page for BlogTalkViennaNotes.

How groundbreaking was what we did? How often do people take notes collaboratively with SubEthaEdit in conferences? It seemed to be a “first time” for many of the participants, so I guess it isn’t that common. Have you done it already? What is your experience of it? How often do people put up notes or transcripts of conferences on wikis?

Discipline is needed to separate the actual notes (ie, “what the conferencer said”) from the note-taker comments (ie, extra links, commentary, questions, remarks). This isn’t a big issue when a unique person is taking notes for his or her private use, but it becomes really important when more people are involved. I think that although we did do this to some extent, we were a bit sloppy about it.

Information on the wiki page, apart from the notes, should also include pointers to the official presentation the talker made available (not always easy to find!), and I’m also trying to suggest that people who have done proper write-ups of the talks (see Philipp’s write-ups, they are impressive) to add links to them from the appropriate wiki pages (Topic Exchange is great, but lacks detail).

Participants, as far as I could make out, were: Leo, Lee, Roland, Cyprien, Horst, Mark, Malte, Björn, Omar, Paolo, Suw and myself. [to be completed] (If you took part in the note-taking, please leave a comment — I’m having trouble tracking you all down.) I did see Ben Trott online in SubEthaEdit while he and Mena were giving their talk, and was tempted to invite him into our note-taking session — but I was too shy and didn’t dare. And thanks to Joi for being so generous with the Joiwiki!

Similar Posts:

BlogTalk 2.0, Compte-Rendu [fr]

Un compte-rendu en français de la conférence viennoise sur les weblogs à  laquelle j’ai assisté en début de semaine. Beaucoup de conférences intéressantes, beaucoup de gens, une utilisation intéressante de la technologie, et beaucoup d’idées pour des billets à  écrire!

De retour juste à  temps pour mon 30 anniversaire après l’excellente conférence Blogtalk à  Vienne, il est temps que je tienne ma promesse à  Pascale et que j’offre pitance à  mes lecteurs francophones. Cela d’autant plus que je crois bien avoir été la seule représentante de la blogosphère francophone à  cette conférence (pas que je prétende à  une quelconque autorité officielle pour la représenter) — j’adorerais apprendre que je me trompe.

Un mot tout d’abord pour dire que je regrette l’absence de Loïc à  cette conférence. Premièrement, cela aurait été sympathique de pouvoir faire sa connaissance, et deuxièmement (comme je le mentionne plus haut), la francophonie était clairement sous-représentée lors cet événement de portée européenne. Sans vouloir faire de Loïc le porte-drapeau de la blogosphère francophone (loin de là !), je pense que la présence d’un weblogueur francophone tel que lui, médiatique et de surcroit propriétaire d’une entreprise comme U-blog, aurait amélioré la visibilité de cette conférence auprès des blogueurs francophones, contribuant par là  à  ouvrir notre petite blogosphère parfois un peu trop ronronnante à  ce qui se passe ailleurs en Europe. Weblogueurs francophones (Loïc ou autres!), je compte bien vous croiser à  BlogTalk l’année prochaine!

Alors, de quoi ça a parlé? De nombreuses conférences, que je dois encore digérer, et dont je tenterai de vous rapporter les plus marquantes au cours de ces prochains jours; mais surtout, les conversations informelles naissant des rencontres de couloir, que ce soit dans le cyberespace ou l’Urania proprement dit. C’est ce côté “social-geek”, que j’ai énormément apprécié au cours des quelques derniers jours, que je désire partager avec vous aujourd’hui.

Les personnes avec lesquelles j’ai le plus parlé et passé du temps, clairement, sont Lee Bryant, Suw Charman, et Horst Prillinger (Horst est sans conteste le meilleur guide dont on puisse rêver pour visiter Vienne, y manger et s’y déplacer). J’ai rencontré et parlé avec bien d’autres personnes intéressantes durant ce séjour, évidemment. Je tenterai de vous parler d’eux ces prochains jours. Disons pour le moment que ce fut un réel plaisir de discuter avec autant de gens intelligents, cultivés, et comprenant les weblogs et la technologie.

J’avais déjà  brièvement rencontré Suw à  Londres et nous parlons régulièrement sur IRC depuis de longs mois. Quant à  Horst, habitant Vienne, il avait posté un grand nombre d’informations utiles sur la page wiki BlogTalkVienna. Après une journée à  marcher seule à  travers Vienne jusqu’à  plus de jambes, je lui ai envoyé un mot pour proposer que l’on se rencontre (je me souvenais également que Suw allait loger chez lui). Lee, dont Suw m’avait parlé puisqu’ils s’étaient retrouvés dans le même avion, est une rencontre que je dois à  RendezVous (RendezVous existe aussi pour Windows et Linux) et SubEthaEdit, deux jouets geek pour OSX qui m’ont rendue encore plus contente qu’avant de faire partie de la Communauté de la Pomme.

Que sont donc ces deux jouets? RendezVous permet de connecter et de rendre visible les uns aux autres les différents utilisateurs connectés sur un même réseau local. Concrètement: BlogTalk, comme toute conférence geek qui se respecte, fournit wifi et connection Internet à  ses participants. Une fois connectée au réseau, je lance iChat (le programme pour AIM fourni avec Mac), et j’ouvre la fenêtre RendezVous. Je vois automatiquement une liste des autres personnes sur le réseau ayant effectué la même manipulation que moi — comme on voit ses contacts sur ICQ ou MSN, à  la différence qu’ici, il n’y a pas besoin “d’ajouter les contacts”: on se retrouve avec une liste de noms dans sa liste, inconnus ou non, à  qui l’on peut envoyer des messages.

Ma première mission a donc été d’aller dire bonjour à  la petite dizaine de personnes connectées, puisque je ne connaissais personne 🙂 — j’ai été très bien accueillie. Au cours d’une conversation, quelqu’un (je ne suis plus sûre qui!) m’a demandé si j’avais SubEthaEdit, parce que Lee Bryant y avait ouvert un document dans lequel on pouvait tous prendre des notes ensemble, en collaboration. Ni une, ni deux, j’ai téléchargé et installé le programme. SubEthaEdit, c’est comme un Notepad multi-joueurs, ou une page wiki instantanée. On peut afficher une liste des membres du réseau ayant SubEthaEdit en train de tourner, et ouvrir les documents partagés par ceux-ci. Des couleurs différencient les différentes personnes en train d’éditer un document, et tout se passe en temps réel: on voit les gens taper.

Assez vite, la petite équipe qui prenait des notes s’est mise d’accord pour les mettre en ligne. Suw a suggéré de les mettre sur une page wiki, afin que les personnes sans Mac ni SubEthaEdit (dont elle faisait partie — mais elle a promis qu’on la verrait l’année prochaine avec son propre iBook ou PowerBook!) puissent également contribuer à  l’effort collectif. Sitôt suggéré, sitôt fait: au fur et à  mesure que les conférenciers terminaient leur présentation, je mettais nos notes en ligne sur le wiki de Joi. Les notes sont pour le moment mal formattées, et bénéficieront d’un peu de jardinage afin que d’autres puissent les compléter, ajouter leurs commentaires, des liens vers leurs comptes-rendus ou encore les présentations mises en ligne par les conférenciers eux-mêmes.

Histoire d’éviter de donner à  ce billet une longueur parfaitement indigeste (si le mal n’est pas déjà  fait!), je terminerai en mentionnant les thèmes de conversations informelles que j’ai eues et qui m’inspirent pour des billets ou autres écrits (pas toujours en français, malheureusement).

  • Problèmatique des weblogs multilingues, et comment un outil comme WordPress peut être adapté pour les gérer; ce qu’on peut faire pour rendre un weblog multilingue plus sympathique à  ses lecteurs monolingues (attendez-vous à  des changements par ici!
  • Reconnaissance vocale, ce que j’ai accompli avec, et ce que je pense que l’on devrait pouvoir faire avec cette technologie dans un futur proche.
  • Langues et Internet: frontières, langues minoritaires. Réflexions sur la “blogosphère suisse” — existe-t-elle seulement?
  • Comment faire une présentation de qualité à  une conférence (Suw et moi avons un article en préparation sur le sujet).
  • Suggestions pour organisateurs de conférences pour geeks (inévitable).
  • Réflexion sur les différents vecteurs et supports de contenu entrant en jeu lors d’une présentation orale.
  • Weblogs et enseignement, bien entendu…
  • Une expérience organisée avec Lee, consistant à  coller à  mesure ses propres notes dans le document SubEthaEdit
  • Rencontres diverses

(Je mettrai des liens quand les billets seront écrits, si j’oublie, rappelez-le-moi!)

Similar Posts:

Collaborative BlogTalk Notes on Wiki [en]

Collaborative notes taken during the BlogTalk conference are online on Joi’s wiki.

The conferences are interesting. Even more exciting is being a Mac user, playing with Rendez-Vous and SubEthaEdit.

One of the results of this is that notes some of us are taking at the conference are already available on BlogTalkViennaNotes.

As the notes are on wiki pages (after having been composed with SubEthaEdit, it was kind of a logical, step — thanks Suw), please don’t hesitate to complete them with your own if you were at the conference.

Similar Posts:

Conférence BlogTalk 2 [fr]

La Conférence Européenne sur le Weblogging BlogTalk 2 aura lieu début juillet à Vienne (Autriche). A mon avis, une occasion à côté de laquelle la blogosphère francophone ne devrait pas passer, une chance pour ceux qui ont quelque chose à apporter à la réflexion générale sur les weblogs de se faire entendre, indépendamment de leur célébrité médiatique.

Dernier délai pour soumettre vos propositions de présentations: 17 mars.

Papers to this conference should be concerned with blogs as an arena of exchange: the exchange of ideas, opinions and information as well as dreams, visions and knowledge. Addressing the topic of exchange contributors may consider strategies, consequences and benefits as well as rhetoric and aesthetics.

Similar Posts: