BlogCamp: Bruno Giussani — Bondy Blog Story [en]

[fr] Bruno Giussani nous raconte l'histoire du Bondy Blog. Naissance d'un média qui est devenu national, mais de la perspective des banlieues.

*notes from blogcamp.ch presentation. may be inaccurate.*

[Bruno Giussani](http://www.lunchoverip.com): special projects for [l’Hebdo](http://www.hebdo.ch) => involved in [Bondy Blog](http://yahoo.bondyblog.fr/) thing.

Bruno Giussani speaking about Bondy Blog

**The Story**

Riots for 3 weeks. 9000 cars burned. 2921 people arrested. Outskirts (suburbs).

Special reporters flocking there from everywhere, and then disappeared (as soon as the curve of violence started going down).

Suburbs: journalists stay in a nice hotel in Paris, eat there, go out reporting during the day, then back to nice hotel. Don’t actually *stay* there.

L’Hebdo did things differently: chose Bondy, one town in France, to do old-fashioned reporting. They sent their 20 reporters there (weekly rotations). Set up an office in the local football warehouse thing, slept there, with a DSL connection.

Objectives:

– write about the situation in that city for the magazine
– blog between magazine issues

What happened?

– journalists used to a weekly rythm started reporting on stuff on the blog they would never have talked about. “Smaller things” which are part of Real Life and never ends up in the press. Or big things (“Les filles de Bondy parlent”) which fired national controversy.
– journalists would come back completely enthusiastic (journalistic freedom recovered) when they left because they “had to”

Everybody wrote about this story. Old media. Curious about what is going on in the blogosphere but don’t know how to handle it. And suddenly this small magazine does something and everybody wants to copy/learn/understand. (Here, being “Swiss” had an advantage.)

Once the newsroom ran out of journalists, what to do? Successful blog, tons of comments… can’t let it die. Instead of sending people again, reached out to young people in Bondy to see if they would take over.

Brought them all to Lausanne for a week of blog/journalism training, then were given the password to the blog and were sent back. Midway between classical blogging and journalism. Have a weekly meeting, etc.

About a dozen bloggers now, covering their life. For the first time, this 50’000 person town has a local publication. Telling their story in their own voice.

Started doing reverse reporting (sending their people to rich neighbourhoods in Paris, for example).

Financed by turning part of the content of the first year of blogging into a book.

Important consequence: the banlieue had a voice at the beginning of the presidential compaign! Dec. 15, Bondy Blog guy asks Sarkozy for his phone number at a press conference, and actually gets it!

Sponsored by Yahoo France now. Have been building a network of correspondants in 15 different banlieues in France. A national media from the banlieue perspective!

Journalism in the P2P world is not about antagonism (old vs. new, professionals vs. amateurs, paying vs. free, controlled vs. open) but it’s hybrid, being complementary.

**Discussion**

Roughly 6000 visitors a day when they switched to Yahoo.

Background: where did the idea come from? came up during a news meeting, but the year before they had a kind of blogcamp for the newsroom.

New projects in this direction? L’Hebdo launched [8 blogs](http://blogs.hebdo.ch) since then. Has influenced how the journal thinks.

Bruno is a little more radical about how magazines should do things *(steph-note: hope I understood this right)*: shouldn’t have a traditional website (but journalists should blog, of course, and put the magazine content online for free), but should invest heavily in this kind of operation, **including training**. (Throwing blogs at people doesn’t work, we’re starting to know it.) Big problem in the newsroom: publication brand vs. personal (journalist) brand.

Bondy blog (network) become a sort of training ground for banlieue people to become recognised as contributors, and Bruno guesses that probably some of them will be hired by “old media” once the elections are over.

Bruno: l’Hebdo never planned for all that. It just happened, organically.

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Introducing Fresh Lime Soda with Episode 3 of the Suw+Steph Podcast [en]

[fr] Notre podcast anglophone (à Suw Charman et moi-même) a maintenant son propre nom de domaine (histoire de fêter son baptême et l'épisode 3): Fresh Lime Soda.

As [twittered yesterday](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/10631221), [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/) and I are very proud to announce the christening of our previously unnamed podcast: [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net). As you can see, it has a domain and blog of its own (hosted by [WordPress.com](http://wordpress.com)), on which you can read the shownotes and of course listen to (or download) the podcast itself:

– [episode 1: Cities, geeks, security and risk](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/01/19/fresh-lime-soda-episode-1-cities-geeks-security-and-risk/)
– [episode 2: Conferences, note taking, Wedding 2.0 and new tools](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/02/15/fresh-lime-soda-episode-2-conferences-note-taking-wedding-20-and-new-tools/)
– and — yay! — the new [episode 3: Fresh lime soda, Twitter, bad marketing, you can’t beat being there](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/03/21/fresh-lime-soda-episode-3-fresh-lime-soda-twitter-bad-marketing-you-cant-beat-being-there/).

You’ll certainly want to [subscribe using the RSS/atom (FeedBurner) feed](http://feeds.feedburner.com/FLS), possibly [subscribe in iTunes directly](itpc://feeds.feedburner.com/FLS) so that you never miss an episode!

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Multilingual Proposals (Reboot, BlogCamp) [en]

The famous conference [reboot](http://www.reboot.dk/listpublish-63-en.html) will take place in Copenhagen on 31.05-01.06. [I’ll be attending](http://www.reboot.dk/person-471-en.html).

I’m also going to make a proposal for a talk (as the [(un)conference format](http://www.reboot.dk/article-203-en.html) encourages this). I’m being a bit shy about [putting it up on the reboot site](http://www.reboot.dk/listpublish-189-en.html) before I’m happy with the title and description, so for the moment it’s a Google Doc tentatively titled While We Wait For The Babel Fish.

Those of you who know me won’t be very surprised to learn that it’s about multilingualism online. By “multilingualism” online, I’m not only talking about [localisation](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/24/english-only-barrier-to-adoption/) or [stupid default languages](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/04/not-all-switzerland-speaks-german-dammit/), but mainly about what happens when one wants to get off the various monolingual islands out there and *[use more than one language](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/11/multilingual-weblog/)* in one place, for example. How can we help multiple languages coexist in a given space or community, as they do at times in the offline world? Can the tools we have help make this easier?

Another thing that interests me is this “all or nothing” assumption about knowing languages (when you have to check boxes): I wouldn’t check a box saying I “know” Italian, but I can understand some amount of it when it’s written, if it’s necessary. What are we capable of doing with that kind of information? [Read the draft](http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddcrwvm8_16d3fhsz) if you want more.

I’m also proposing a session at Saturday’s [BlogCamp in Zürich](http://barcamp.ch/BlogCampSwitzerland) which will be around similar issues, but which will focus precisely on the topic of [multilingual blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/11/multilingual-weblog/).

Feedback on these ideas (and anything here) is most welcome. Is this interesting?

**Update 19.03.2007: [proposal is now on the reboot site!](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html) Don’t hesitate to leave comments there.**

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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.

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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!

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