Martin Roell: Getting Started in Consulting (LIFT'07) [en]

*Warning: these are my unedited notes of Martin’s workshop at [LIFT](, meaning my understanding and interpretation of what he said. They might not reflect accurately what Martin told us, and might even be outright wrong in some places. Let me know if you think I really messed up somewhere.*

#### Martin’s Story

[Martin]( came to Dresden with the idea to study business economics and start a big factory someday. In 98, the web was taking off, so he changed directions and started an internet company. After a turn or two, ended up writing project proposals for projects which would never happen, got fed up with having a boss, quit and became a consultant.


What kind of consultant? He knew stuff about the internet, he could talk… so there were probably people out there who wanted to know about the stuff he knew. Problem: didn’t really know how to start a business. Just knew he would be looking for people doing an internet project, and looking for somebody who knew more about the internet than them.

Got lucky, a previous client hired him for a full-year contract, paid in advance! (That was good, secured him for the first year. “Hey, I’m a consultant!”) Flipside: worked, surfed the internet, enjoyed the money, but didn’t learn much about building a consulting business, though he learnt quite a bit about consulting. (Got to hang around in the offices, be there to answer questions, and roughly do what he wanted…)

Getting clients is about setting up projects, and it is not the same job as “being the consultant” — which you are once you’ve *got* the client.

Last year, business was doing OK, but a bit frustrating: lots of small projects, of questionable utility (in a “change the planet” way), and feeling of being underpaid. This is what brought him to start giving seminars *about* consulting.

Warning: there is no *one true way* of doing things. *His* way.

#### Program:

– Basics: what consulting is/is not (specially in the contexte of communications, technology, internet consulting) — what does a consultant do, what does an agency do?
– Marketing yourself: how do you get people to call your phone number?
– Sales process: what you do after you pick up the phone
– Fees: different ways of getting payed (time-based fees or not?)
– Practical: how to write a proposal, marketing material needed or not
– Optional: grow your business without losing your mind or your personal self

#### What is consulting?

David Gerald M. Weinberger: “consulting is influencing people at their request” => it’s about people and relationships (that bit is sometimes hard to get for the hacker/coder/hardcore-geek crowd who gets into the consulting business)

Consulting is not about “selling your knowledge”, there is no such thing. It’s about influencing people and using your knowledge to do that.

Consultant vs. service provider. The client remains autonomous after you leave. The client’s organisation should be stronger, not weaker. (e.g. web agencies, called in to do a design or something, but from an organisational point of view, it means the client needs to contact them each time they need a website.)

Important thing for a consultant: when you leave your client, he should be able to do more than before. If your client needs you again when he needs the same thing he called you in for, you probably haven’t actually been consulting. => when negociating, keep in mind: does the client want you for consulting, or is he actually trying to get you to do something else? !==outsourcing

**Five required things to do consulting:**

– you need a client (look at the number of people doing “consulting” who don’t actually have clients)
– the client needs to have a problem, and he needs to think he has a problem (or needs something to change, or an issue, or a challenge, or an idea that something could be done to make things better…) — (thus avoiding: “hey, client, you have a problem! sure, you do!”)
– the client needs to *want to solve* the problem, not just want to complain about it
– he sees ways in which the problem can be solved (ie, he doesn’t think it’s impossible to solve) — he needs to believe that the problem *can* be solved
– the client needs to be ready to **collaborate** in the consulting process — involvement, active participation; requests like “give us a talk on blogs, give us a seminar on blogs” are perfectly fine, but selling talks like that is often not *really* consulting (Martin’s experience: sometimes when clients want to buy talks, they actually need/want something else if you dig deeper — identify the real problem, and see if the talk/workshop is really the solution to it)

*steph-note: danger in accepting to give the “talk” or “workshop” when you know it’s not the right solution, is that the client will not get what he wanted/expected/hoped out of it, and will then be dissatisfied with what you did.*

=> our job is also rejecting stuff. Clients often come with a symptom, not the real problem. (Picking the easy target, ie problem #1, often means you’re going to head straight into problem #2)

If the company has more than one problem, good sign. If the company has no problem, usually a bad sign.

=> consultant = partner for the client who works alongside him, and not service provider who gives something to the client.

#### Client relationships

Why would anybody want to work with you?

Martin learnt: people don’t work with him because he’s clever or knows a lot of stuff (always people out there who know more about your specific area of expertise than you).

What’s needed is trust between the buyer and yourself. Need to understand the mechanics of trust work. Putting pressure on the relationship (for example, when we need to tell the client he’s wrong), and releasing pressure. The client trusts you that you will change his organisation, and do so at his request.

*Steph-note: therapist for companies!*

Important: the client will not need you after you’ve left. Don’t oversee that when you make proposals to the client about how you can work together.

*Steph-note: teach them to fish, don’t give them fish.*

Not locking the client in. Also a chance to sell more, because you’re not just selling the result, but you’re teaching him competencies that he’ll be able to use next time.

In the end, you can end up doing a really high level of consultancy, where the client trusts you to help him solve difficult problems even more than your knowledge in this or that field. Looking for the source of the “problem”, don’t jump in and just solve the “surface problem”.

For Martin, it’s up to the client to start the consulting relationship, and not upto the consultant to pitch the client. (Thus, no real need for an “elevator pitch”.)

#### How do you get people to call your phone number?

“We found you on the internet.”

But how do you get there? Word of mouth, but that doesn’t work to start with. For Martin, it worked by blogging. He wrote about the stuff he was interested in, and at some point, after a lot of waiting, these topics became interesting to other people.

The blog itself doesn’t really bring people. People got worried when Martin published his number on his blog (“You won’t be able to sleep anymore!”). But no. People who are going to buy your consulting are not your blog readers, and do not read blogs. But the readers of your blog are going to recommend you to their non-blogger potential client friends. Blogging helps tremendously in creating your own ambassadors, gets you clients indirectly. You also don’t get contracts from fellow collegues. (Consultants never have “too much work” and pass it on to their friends.)

Beware: blog success is a slow project. A PDF sent to the ten right people can be worth two years of blogging. Remember that people who will decide to hire you have very little time and don’t read blogs.

Martin’s experience with his “talking about his life” Newsletter: people not signing off. Surprising how many people are actually interested in *you*.

Mainstream press coverage. Martin’s experience is that press doesn’t lead to contracts, but just to more journalists. *steph-note: I’ve had press coverage lead to contracts — but maybe not as many as one would expect.* Press coverage, though, will help a prospective client trust you (“Hey, he’s in the papers, must be serious, etc.”

Write short pieces on stuff that interests you — basics. “What is blogging?” –etc.

*Do I need a company name?*

Two schools of thought.

– Important for marketing/branding.
– One-person business with a big name… ahem. What’s the point? Deceiving, creating an image of something larger than you.
– OTOH, some large corporations will only work with other companies (won’t deal with people), so for them it makes sense to “have a company”

For Martin, names and brands do not matter very much when somebody else is contacting you. They’re contacting you because of *you*. A logo/company name won’t make people trust you more. If it works out, it’s because people trust you as a person. Martin likes breaking the expectation that you’re “a company”. Helps sort through clients too (if they’re put off by the fact he’s an individual, in a way, they failed the first test).

Don’t spend too much time thinking about your image when you’re starting a company.

Ollie: problem is that the person you’re talking to is not the person who is actually going to buy your services.

At the start: try to build from your existing network, even on the internet. Important: indicate that you are for hire! People reading Martin’s blog for four years and who have no idea what he does for a living… Don’t save money on the business cards.

Writing on the blog: try and forget what you know, and explain very basic stuff.

#### Money

Lots of things wrong for daily rates. 30 seconds of thinking under the shower can solve the huge problem. Time-based fees make the consultant and the client on the wrong thing (activity, duration) and not results.

Motivate the client to control the consultant (is he *really* spending n days on that), minimise the time spent on the project, and minimise the contact with the consultant. It also motivates the consultant to maximise duration and sometimes do more than is necessary.

Focusing on activity and not results is not good (often, you don’t know how much time this or that will take, or how many workshops it will take). Sometimes you can evaluate the number of days, but often, it’s better to agree on a fixed fee for a phase of the project.

**How do we get from person calling us up to a contract?**

The “first conversation” isn’t actually the first conversation, there is a contact before that, based on which you decide if you actually want to get into the conversation with that client or not.

After the first conversation, Martin comes up with a proposal, period. (Not “multiple conversations”). Goal of the first conversation is writing a proposal afterwards.

So, how does it work? After the first contact (phone/e-mail), Martin tries to identify what the client actually wants.

*steph-note: the idea that “other people will call you” seems hard to get for the workshop people*

Try to make a list of at least ten things of what the client might want/what the situation could be => preparation for this real “first conversation”. Important to make a conscious decision about entering (or not) the pre-sales conversation. In-person is really better. Difficult to find out who the actual buyer is on the phone.


– start building a relationship / trust with the client
– write a proposal

Not: “make a sale”

Need to find out:

– why they’re contacting us
– short/long-term project?
– who are the people involved?
– who would be the buyer/the client? (often two different people)
– what will the relationship between you and the client be like? (interviews, analysis, talk, workshop, write proposal, collaborate with their web people, sit in a room with a piece of paper, how often would you meet…?)

=> ask a lot of questions, and listen (“shut up and listen”). Don’t think too much or jump to conclusions while the client is talking. Other mistake: bring those “ready-made” solutions to the client before the “sale is made”, because often, we get it wrong. He’ll wonder how you can offer a solution after listening to him for five minutes, and start asking you questions about it. Repeat what the client said, reformulate without interpreting, to make sure you understand what’s going on correctly.

You can have a list of questions ready before you go in, particularly if it’s a “client gives presentation” kind of meeting.

Sample questions:

– who is here and why?
– why did you ask *me* to come?
– why now?
– what is the problem, what are the symptoms?
– what is working well in the organisation?
– what can be changed, what cannot?
– what would we have to do to make the problem worse?
– why do you think you need a consultant for this problem?
– what experiences have you had with consultants? (often none, sometimes yes, and it will impact the work you’ll be doing there)
– how would you know that our project (consulting work) is a success? (measures of success)
– how would you notice that the problem had disappeared?
– what would we have to do to make the project fail spectacularly?

**More about listening**

Take lots of notes, without the laptop (it creates a barrier). Maybe take a second person with you just to take notes. Ask about the bits where the client gets imprecise (“we sort of have this service provider, and we sort of like his work”) — but not too intensively, can get manipulative (NLP etc). A conversation like this is not an interview. Not applying for a job.

Would be a bad sign (?not sure) if they don’t ask any questions about you, your business, your consultancy. If you’ve “questioned” the client right, then either trust is built, or he’ll ask questions. You shouldn’t have to stand up and present yourself etc. Careful with question: “have you done this before?” — of course not… Dangerous to talk about references on other projects you’ve done, it might worry the client about “secrecy” etc. If you speak about a project you’ve done, say that you’re allowed to speak about it. If you can’t, say you’ve done this or that but you can’t talk about it.

“What do you mean with that question?”

Careful with “big references”: “I’ve worked with Apple!” — “Oh, my wife has a mac and it sucks…” (can backfire).

Don’t answer questions that are not asked. (Makes you seem overly worried about what the client thinks of you.)

Rule some salespeople like: if you say something, but the client has reservations, never respond to this kind of feedback, unless it shows up three times. True, often this kind of remarks are not really serious, but just remarks. Maybe ask, if it looks insistent: “you sound skeptical about …, should we talk about it?”.

Need to check how serious the request is (cf. five necessary things mentioned above — wants to solve the problem). Are they pitching you the situation to make you compete with others?

“What’s the next step? How do you want to continue with this?” Also a good way of getting out of “expert talk”. Keep the process in hand. “Have we answered all the questions?” — “Now we’ve talked about the problem, what do you want to do?” (maybe talk about you, focus on a sub-problem, take a break…) Very often, at the middle of the conversation you end up with a very different problem than the one the client came to you with (first problem often a part of a larger problem, which this particular project will not address).

Stupid: end the conversation without having all the information you need to make the proposal (Martin has done it a hundred of times.) Really tough to write a proposal with incomplete information. Careful when client says “OK, very interesting, send us your proposal!”

The consultant decides when the conversation is finished. Even with a checklist with all the information (some clients don’t like that, some do). Playback the conversation, in a way.


– project goals (how will we find out that we have achieved the project)
– what is the value of this project to the organisation, *steph-note: why are you doing this, what is your motivation for the project* (this is where the fees come from!) — if we do this, we’ll be able to… or if we don’t, we won’t be able to…
– how are we going to work together (relationship modalities, contact frequency…)

Different options in the proposal. Never one “take or leave” proposal. Different ways of working together, different prices. Sometimes different ways talked about in the conversation, sometimes not.

Almost never talks about fees in the conversation, besides informing that he does not bill at a daily rate, and that the proposal will include different options with different prices.

At the end of the conversation you should have a clear idea about how much you’re going to bill. Otherwise, ask the client about his budget (99% of times in Germany, they don’t, don’t know) or if there is any amount that his proposal should not exceed or go below. *steph-note: basically, the project will depend on the money available.*

In the proposal, explain why this or that option is valuable compared to others.

Now, Martin tends to only write a proposal for the first phase. Or the whole project, but with options to take only the first phase, etc. For complex projects, often the first proposal/phase will only be the analysis phase.

If it’s visible that the lowest proposal you can make is not going to fit in the client’s budget, announce that the lowest proposal is going to be X. (Between X and Y.)

Proposal: summing up of an agreement. Not a suggestion that he may want to do or not.

– basic situation
– goal
– value to organisation
– what is the consultant is going to do
– responsabilities (mine=show up on time, be nice, do what is outlined above/yours=pay, give me info and access to people/our=inform each other about relevant info, mergers, restructuration, privacy, how conflicts will be managed)
– timing (when start, when finish)
– fees (“how did you come up with that?” — no good answer, very often) and expenses, how they are going to be paid
– how do we get to a contract from here (sign on dotted line, send back to me)

About payment: full fee in advance (**never** work in a contract with payment at the end of the project… projects don’t have an “end” usually, they die). Usual in Germany: 50% upfront, and the other 50% 30 days after beginning of project.

In some companies it’s much easier to send money than get somebody to sign (paying is worth a signature — you can pay instead of signing, that’s OK).

Comment: the end of the project is not marked with the “punishment” of having to pay, for the client. At the beginning of a project, enthusiastic client, wants to spend the money, invest!

Proposal within 24 hours. Snail-mail them. Never go the project when he accepted to just send it by e-mail. In most cases, will not get something signed through the mail, and has to follow up with a call.


– what is a consultant
– conditions to be doing consulting
– marketing yourself
– use of the internet
– fees
– sales process (questions etc) — 80% closure says Martin, though you’ll lose many people you thought would be clients; helps you filter out people you don’t want to work with.

What Martin is working on:

– getting completely rid of daily rates (started a year ago, been nice and successful for the moment, paying back client if not happy, pricing seminars)
– seminars like this workshop (2-3 days for folks in sales)
– mentoring program

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Tomorrow Will LIFT You Up! [en]

[fr] Demain commence la conférence LIFT à Genève. Deux questions capitales: est-ce que la conférence sera retransmise en direct, et y a-t-il un backchannel officiel?

Yes, [the LIFT conference]( will be taking place in Geneva from tomorrow Wednesday until Friday. If you’re there and want to meet up, [drop me a line]( — and if you’re not there, you can [drool over the program]( and vow that you’ll be there next year.

[Kevin](, who is taking that vow as we speak, asked me two important questions:

– will the talks be streamed? (this, by the way, is the [only situation streaming really makes sense](
– what is the backchannel? (just in case, we’ve joined #lift07 on [freenode](

**Update:** I’ve just [announced the backchannel]( on the collaborative [LIFT Flow blog](

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Interview "LeWeb3" en ligne [fr]

[en] Interview (in French) I gave at the end of LeWeb3 last month in Paris.

Pour mes lecteurs francophones qui s’inquiéteraient (comme [Isa]( de la récente anglicisation dramatique de mon blog, je tiens à vous rassurer: je change de langue comme de chaussette, et des fois je porte la même paire pendant un peu trop longtemps. OK, mauvais exemple, mais vous voyez l’idée. En l’occurence, entre voyages en Angleterre et [aux Etats-Unis](, ma vie a été très anglophone ces derniers temps.

Tiens, ce serait intéressant d’analyser (pas trop d’idée comment pour le moment) la répartition du français et de l’anglais dans mes billets au fil du temps.

Mais bon, pour le moment, je voulais simplement vous signaler la mise en ligne de [l’interview que j’ai donnée à Thierry Weber à la fin de la conférence LeWeb3]( à Paris le mois dernier.

J’ai des tas de choses à bloguer, et je vous promets que certaines en tous cas seront en français!

**Edit:** Oups, j’ai commencé par publier [me plaintes concernant les vidéos LeWeb3]( dans ce billet avant d’en faire un séparé. C’est mal! Désolée.

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See All The Blogtalk Talks [en]

[fr] Allez voir les enregistrements des conférences données à Blogtalk. En ligne presque en temps réel.

Via [Suw](, [Blogtalk talks are being put online almost in real-time]( Go look. Good job, guys. Extra brownie points for you 🙂

No brownie points, though, for not giving a mike to people who asks questions form the public. You can understand a microphone-less person asking a question *at* you, but not *away* from you. Next time, maybe?

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Give Us Time to Digest Talks [en]

[fr] Le format des conférences (particulièrement celles avec un public de blogueurs, donc producteurs actifs de contenu) doit changer. On nous fait écouter des choses intéressantes, il faut nous laisser le temps d'en faire quelque chose. Après deux présentations, j'ai de quoi bloguer ou discuter au moins une heure! En rajouter deux de plus par-dessus, même avec une pause d'une demi-heure, ne fait qu'accélérer la grillade de cervelle.

Talking with a couple of people during the SHiFT closing party, we agreed that the conference format has to change. If you’re putting a bunch of people in a room, particularly bloggy people who are used to producing content and thinking on keyboards, and you’re hopefully providing them with thought-provoking thoughts and speakers, you need to give them time to digest the talks.

After two talks, I’ve got enough stuff in my head to blog for an hour or talk for the same length of time with the people who were in the same room. After four talks in a row, even with a thirty-minute break in between, my brain is fried and I just stall.

That’s why I’m really excited to see how the [LIFT’07 concept]( works out. One day with lots of small talks (select those you want to see, skip the rest), and another day with keynotes and huge chunks of time around them.

Looking at [what awaits me tomorrow](, I’m feeling a tad apprehensive…

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Travel Plans [en]

[fr] Prochains voyages: Lisbonne puis Vienne à la fin du mois de septembre, et peut-être l'Inde cet hiver si j'ai les sous.

– (25)26-30th September: [Shift]( in Lisbon, Portugal
– 1st-3rd October: [BlogTalk]( in Vienna, Austria

I’ve more or less got the trip to Lisbon and the return from Vienna sorted out. I’m in trouble for getting from Lisbon to Vienna during the week-end without emptying my bank account. Anybody else doing this? Got ideas where I should look? (Trains, planes, coaches?)

I’m also tempted to go to India for two months over December-January (get back here in time for [Lift]( early February). The problem there is finances: I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to afford it. One idea would be to try and get some consulting work over there (Delhi, Pune, Bangalore…) — if the rates in the industry are worth it. Anybody know what opportunities a videshi bloggy consultant might find there?

Do speak up if we’re going to be in the same place at the same time!

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Nuit du Journal Intime: réflexions [fr]

[en] I was part of a panel in Geneva last Saturday. It was about intimacy in the age of blogs and the internet. Interesting experience, very different from the geek/tech events I'm used to. Some thoughts about the evening.

Nuit du Journal Intime 30

Je reviens (pas trop à  chaud) sur [la soirée de samedi à  Genève]( Dans l’ensemble, ce fut une bonne soirée, malgré mon rhume bien installé. Quelques réflexions en vrac. J’ai pris quelques photos que [je suis en train de mettre en ligne](


Je suis de plus en plus sensible à  la qualité de l’accueil lorsque je me rends quelque part pour une conférence ou un interview. Est-ce que quelqu’un est là  pour m’accueillir, déjà ? Dois-je payer mon café? Ce sont des petites choses qui ne sont jamais spécifiées dans le “contrat”, mais qui comptent. Quand je me déplace pour parler dans une école, on me paie, certes, mais je suis quand même une “invitée”.

Par exemple, j’ai récemment commencé à  insister pour qu’une personne soit présente quelques minutes avant le début de mon intervention pour régler les problèmes techniques s’il y en a. J’ai déjà  à  porter le poids de la prestation publique (si on peut appeler ça ainsi) sans avoir à  courir à  droite et à  gauche juste avant de parler parce que telle ou telle chose ne fonctionne pas.

Lorsque je me déplace pour un interview, je suis sensible aussi à  ce genre d’attention. Est-ce qu’on me fait poireauter dans la cafétéria durant près d’une demi-heure, Nuit du Journal Intime 3comme cela m’est arrivé récemment? Est-ce qu’on s’occupe de mes frais de transport? Comme je l’ai dit ici il y a quelque temps, j’ai [passé le stade où je suis heureuse de donner du temps et de l’argent simplement pour figurer dans la presse](

Assez de grogne: l’accueil à  la Nuit du Journal Intime était très bon. Petit salon pour les débattaires, choses à  grignoter, boissons, petit cadeau joli (un carnet d’écriture et une boîte de thé), souper offert après le débat. Foie gras, s’il vous plaît. Très bon de surcroît. J’ai un peu poireauté dans le hall, mais par ma faute: j’ai marmonné un peu trop timidement au réceptionniste que j’avais rendez-vous à  18h30, sans annoncer clairement que je venais pour participer au débat. Ça m’apprendra, pour la prochaine fois.


Nuit du Journal Intime 34

Qu’est-ce que l’intimité? Qu’est-ce qui est intime, pour moi? Pour ouvrir le débat, on nous a demandé à  chacun d’expliciter un peu notre rapport à  l’intimité. Quelles sont les choses qui font partie de notre sphère intime? J’ai de la peine à  répondre. De prime abord, je dirais “ce que je ne publie pas dans mon blog,” car pour moi, l’intime s’oppose au public. Mais ce n’est pas aussi simple que ça. On peut étaler son intimité en public — cela reste l’intimité. Ou non?

Nuit du Journal Intime 10

Disons plutôt que pour moi, ce qui est intime est ce que je ne partage pas facilement. Ce que je ne livre qu’à  des personnes choisies, et pas au monde. Ou encore, c’est ce qui m’expose quand je le partage. Dans ce sens là , on peut trouver dans ce blog quelques (rares) passages qui abordent des sujets intimes.

Je pense qu’il y a une distinction importante à  faire entre “l’intimité personnelle” (ce que *je* considère intime) et “l’intimité sociale” (ce que le société considère comme faisant partie de la sphère intime). Catherine Millet, auteur de La vie sexuelle de Catherine M., disait lors du débat que pour elle, l’intimité se situait plutôt au niveau émotionnel que corporel/sexuel. Voici à  mon avis un exemple de cas où son intimité personnelle ne coïncide pas avec l’intimité sociale.


Ambiance très sérieuse, pour moi qui sortait directement de [LIFT’06]( Les événements geeks et le milieu des blogs en général sont très relax. On se tutoie, on ne se prend pas (trop) au sérieux, on se plante et on recommence. Me retrouver sur scène, avec des personnes que je connais à  peine et que je vousoie (c’est bête, mais pour moi ça fait vraiment une différence), qui ont clairement plus l’habitude que moi de ce genre d’exercice, éblouie par les projecteurs… J’avoue que je me sentais relativement peu à  ma place.

Ça s’est bien passé, pourtant. J’ai “fait ma blogueuse”, j’ai dit un peu mes doutes, ce que je ne savais pas, et aussi un peu ce que je savais. J’en prends conscience en écrivant: il y avait beaucoup plus de mise en scène ce soir-là  que ce dont j’ai l’habitude. C’est ça: la mise en scène. C’est étrange pour moi.

Nuit du Journal Intime 25

J’ai trouvé le débat un peu difficile à  suivre par moments. Je ne voyais pas tellement, en fait, où était le débat. C’était intéressant d’écouter ce que les autres invités avaient à  dire, mais des fois j’avais l’impression que l’on ne s’entendait pas vraiment.

Hors de la grande salle de spectacles, de retour dans le lounge avec bougies, velours rouge et petites tables pour les lectures de journaux intimes et le repas, c’était très joli et chaleureux.

Nuit du Journal Intime 18

Ce que j’ai beaucoup aimé, c’est l’interview-radio avec la DRS, après le débat, de retour dans le petit salon. La journaliste nous a demandé de revenir sur le débat, sur ce qu’on y avait appris, ce qu’on en avait gardé. Puis on a commencé à  discuter. On a abordé des choses qui n’étaient pas intervenues dans le débat. Pour moi, c’était plus riche, finalement, que la forme un peu dirigée du débat. Ce n’est pas étonnant que ma préférence aille dans ce sens: les blogs, les podcasts, internet… c’est le lieu de la conversation, sans forme prédéfinie. C’est dans ce milieu-là  que je me sens à  l’aise.

**Droits d’auteur**

Après l’interview, j’ai demandé à  la journaliste s’il était possible d’avoir une copie de ce qu’elle avait enregistré, entre autres parce que j’y avais mis en mots des choses que j’avais envie de pouvoir garder et utiliser. (En passant, ça m’a fait très bizarre, durant le débat, de penser que nous n’étions pas enregistrés. J’ai trop l’habitude, avec le web, de laisser des traces derrière moi.)

Nous avons ensuite parlé de droits d’auteur, parce que j’exprimais mon désir de rendre disponible certaines choses sur le web. J’ai lu récemment (je ne sais plus sur quel blog, honte à  moi) qu’un blogueur avait reçu l’interdiction de la part d’une journaliste de publier l’interview par e-mail qu’il lui avait accordé. Le blogueur en question disait quelque chose comme ceci: de quel droit peut-on m’interdire de mettre à  disposition mes propres mots? De même, la DRS peut-elle prétendre détenir des droits sur ce que j’ai dit durant cet interview, parce qu’elle a fourni le matériel d’enregistrement? Et si j’avais enregistré en parallèle avec mon matériel? J’ai mentionné l’épisode du [vidéocast de Robert Scoble](, où j’ai fait précisément ça, avec l’accord des intervenants.

En fait, a précisé la journaliste, ce n’est que sur ses mots à  elle que la DRS détient des droits d’auteur. Cela fait, sens, car lorsqu’elle nous interviewe, elle représente la radio pour laquelle elle travaille. Quand j’aurai reçu le CD, je ferai donc un montage avec mes propres mots et le mettrai en ligne.

La journaliste connaissait EFF, Creative Commons, etc… j’en suis baba!

Et vous? Etiez-vous à  cette soirée? Qu’en avez-vous pensé?

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Ce soir à Genève: Nuit du Journal Intime [fr]

[en] I'll be in Geneva tonight to talk about intimacy in the era of blogs and the internet. I'll be sharing a panel with a bunch of pretty famous people, so I'm a little intimidated.

Je serai à  Genève ce soir pour participer au débat intitulé “Du journal intime au blog, que reste-t-il de l’intimité?”, dans le cadre de la [Nuit du Journal Intime]( Je vais me retrouver entre Catherine Millet (La vie sexuelle de Catherine M.), Willy Pasini, et Catherine Bogaert. Un peu intimidée de me retrouver en si jolie compagnie!

J’en profite pour faire une petite mise au point concernant le fameux titre de “[meilleur blog suisse 2003](”. Je croyais l’avoir déjà  fait, mais impossible de mettre la main dessus, il me semble que le moteur de recherche de mon site est un peu boiteux. (Oui, y’a du boulot.)

Bref, en 2003, une petite équipe de blogueurs francophones décide de lancer les Blogs d’Or. J’en connaissais la plupart de réputation, et je fréquentais à  l’époque des gens qui les connaissaient. Suite à  une remarque de [Delphine Dispa]( “Billet impossible à  retrouver, mais voici son blog.”), une catégorie “meilleur blog suisse” avait été rajoutée. Les blogueurs avaient ensuite proposé des candidats au titre de “meilleur blog xy”, puis avaient voté, parmi les blogs retenus, pour ceux qu’ils préféraient.

Comme il n’y avait pas beaucoup de blogs suisses, et qu’en plus j’étais souvent la seule suissesse que les personnes votant lors de ce “concours” connaissaient… il faut relativiser quelque peu ce titre. Ce n’est pas comme si on avait rassemblé tous les blogs suisses, et que des blogs suisses, pour en sélectionner la crème de la crème — comme cela sera d’ailleurs fait d’ici le 5 mai 2006 pour les [Swiss Blog Awards](

Disclaimer: on m’a demandé si j’étais intéressée à  collaborer à  l’organisation des Swiss Blog Awards. J’ai malheureusement dû refuser, faute de temps gratiné d’une jolie [collision d’agenda]( “Café-Café, dont je fais partie, chante à  Chéserex cette date-là .”).

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Wild Videocast of Robert Scoble Interview [en]

[fr] Une interview (partielle) de Robert Scoble par Marc-Olivier et David de IC Agency, filmée de façon un peu sauvage. Quand on dit que les blogs sont la télé-réalité du web...

I was having a post-LIFT chat with Marc-Olivier in the lounge yesterday when [David]( came up, stole him from me and started talking about getting Robert to do a podcast with them for a blog they were going to open. I offered to introduce them to him.

I was going to take a couple of [photographs]( but as they started, I decided for video instead. Think of it as a “making of” videocast of their podcast. (I say “wild” not because [Robert went wild on the video]( “Check out some comments about people photographing you when you’re partying!”) but because it wasn’t planned, staged, or whatever. Vidéocasting sauvage would be how I’d put it in French.

5-minute videocast with Robert (partial)

Robert Scoble podcast (5 mins) by Steph

My initial intention was to upload it straight away. I like the immediateness you can get with the web. (If moblogging wasn’t so bloody expensive I’d be moblogging away…) David actually asked me to hold off publishing the video and cut out some bits of it or put their audio on it, because they wanted to edit some of the audio (English mistakes in the questions, but IMHO, who cares?) I said I preferred to publish what I had recorded “as is”, mistakes, goofs, and all — it was OK with Robert.

I’m a bit embarrassed by the situation, to be honest. My video is on [DailyMotion]( under a CC-by-sa-nc license, so they can put their audio on top if they like, whatever. I don’t really like having to refrain from publishing something, but on the other hand I am very much aware that if you appear on a video or a photograph, you have a right to control publication of it. I think what bothered me was the argument of “exclusivity”. My videocast is only about a third of the interview, anyway.

What would you have done? Should I have refrained from posting this until they had their version up?

I will of course be posting the link to their version(s) here as soon as I get it.

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Back to Being a Low-Tech Audience [en]

[fr] Dans une conférence où beaucoup de blogueurs sont présents, on a besoin de pauses-blogging 😉 -- et peut-être aussi de présentations qui tiennent bien dans un billet? Suivent quelques suggestions pour les personnes qui font des conférences -- sachant que je ne fais certainement pas tout ce que je dis.

Running a bit late for [Emmanuelle](’s talk on anonymity online, I decided to go in without my laptop, which was in the other room. Decision also fueled by [my earlier cogitations about my decreasing attention span](

Well, there we are: I was more attentive and took [notes on paper]( “On Flickr, large image file, be warned!”).

I was telling Robert that conferences like this lacked blogging breaks. The audience is in the real-time information business if you have lots of bloggers in the room, so if you don’t want them to spend half the talk time uploading photos, chatting, and writing up blog posts. So, how about give us blogging breaks, and plan post-sized talks? Wouldn’t that be neat?

For many people, the most interesting moments of a gathering like this is around and outside the talks. Try to change the balance a bit? I know there are organisational imperatives, but I’m sure a solution could be found.

Other than that, some ideas for speakers (and I’m aware I don’t do what I preach when I’m giving a talk):

– Give me an outline of the talk, paper would be best (I’ll get lost somewhere else by trying to find it online). If I tune out of your talk for a minute (and I’m bound to) I need a chance to tune back in. An outline will help with that.
– Be theatrical, keep me listening, or make me participate. Effective use of slides is good, but I don’t know how to do it so I won’t give you any advice on the topic.
– Don’t talk to fast, particularly when the audio in the venue isn’t too good. Articulate. (Yeah. Sorry.)

Update: I took hand-written notes of Robert’s talk too. Lesson learnt.

My Notes of Robert Scoble's Talk

Now let’s see if you can decypher my handwriting!

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