How real-time blogging could change conferences April 6, 2002 6:06 PM   Subscribe

How real-time blogging could change conferences - thoughts from Esther Dyson.
posted by sheauga to General Weblog-Related at 6:06 PM (18 comments total)

"A conference is always an attempt to orchestrate. Now, it is also something to annotate. Speakers can see questions and respond without questioners uttering a word. Or the organizer can invite a questioner to talk. This is different from the write-your-question-on-a-card method, where only the organizer gets to see the questions, and can select the "convenient" ones. It should also raise the quality of the questions, allowing the shy to express themselves clearly, the slow to upload a coherent comment with one click and the self-promoters and hand-wavers to expose themselves ..."

Has anyone had any experience with real time blogging at an event? If so, how did it work?

posted by sheauga at 6:11 PM on April 6, 2002

No! This is exactly wrong. The web is not a tool to replace face-to-face communication between people who are in the same room. It's certainly not supposed to facilitate audience members ignoring the person they paid to hear speak so they can send them messages.

The web still doesn't have effective tools for writing, but the reading tools are pretty good, and they should give people enough experience that they'll be good listeners in person.

Why couldn't Dan just raise his hand?
posted by anildash at 6:56 PM on April 6, 2002

Oh, and to answer the fray-prompt, yeah, i've seen real-time blogging. I thought it distracted the blogger, the other attendees, and sometimes the speaker. I say thumbs-down.
posted by anildash at 6:58 PM on April 6, 2002

I come at this from a slightly different direction than Anil, although I do see his point. I like what Esther Dyson's talking about, if I understand it correctly, and I find it interesting. Realtime speech annotation and notetaking, where those notes are blogged and instantly visible to both participants and interested parties who are elsewhere, seems like a potentially evolutionary self-organizing phenomenon to me.

If an attendee is fully engaged in what the speaker is saying there might not be that many spare mental CPU cycles to either blog about what's being said, or consult the realtime opinions of others at the same event, but let's face it, for a lot of speakers it's pretty easy to get the gist without devoting 10% of your attention.

I wonder if a more useful technology in a situation like this would be instant messaging or some IRC analogue over WiFi. Audience as hive-mind. Potential, there.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:26 PM on April 6, 2002

In a conference somewhere.

Blog This: (during conference) You know, I really wish she would talk about the comparisons between the effects of hollywood violence on children and the effects of hollywood sex on children, and which is potentially more damaging.

Speaker: (also during conference) And now for speaker questions... (turns on laptop, waits four minutes for boot, waits another two minutes for dailup, surfs the 40 odd blogs of the audience, finds question), I'll talk about the comparisons between the effects of hollywood violence on children and the effects of hollywood sex on children, and which is potentially more damaging.

Sound good? Not to me.
posted by Zora Neale Hurston at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2002

How is this different from kids passing scribbled notes around class? Oh, it involves cool geek toys.

I'd like to see her try it at a news conference.
posted by riviera at 7:57 PM on April 6, 2002

I hadn't envisaged the speaker as engaged in a webby to-and-fro at all, just the audience, out into a larger cloud of virtual attendees...

Clearly what Neale describes, reductio ad absurdum, would be unworkable. But I don't think he's describing the same thing.

On preview : neither is riviera, clearly.

Ah well. Carry on.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:06 PM on April 6, 2002

Rebecca basically debunks the "revolutionary" aspect of this. (She would use a nicer word than "debunk" I think, but it still applies): "I can't help but notice that Dan would have gotten a similar result by raising his hand and asking for a clarification."
posted by owillis at 8:08 PM on April 6, 2002

In the hands of one of those brilliant journalists who can type an 85 wpm translation in English while listening to a live political speech in Spanish, the blog could be a secret weapon of sorts. I can imagine this technique being very useful in a parliamentary setting. Legislative staffers could brief their representative with new talking points that respond to what other speakers are saying, and links to backup material or statistics. This would enable a group of people to "think on their feet" collectively without interrupting the flow of a large meeting.
posted by sheauga at 8:26 PM on April 6, 2002

the ultimate goal of course being implants... :)
posted by rhyax at 8:56 PM on April 6, 2002

Esther Dyson has long been a master at discovering, and then pontificating on at length, the bleedin' obvious. And the bleedin' silly. I side with Anil, Oliver and riviera: She's trying to hop on the blog bandwagon by declaring blogs the solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
posted by aaron at 9:57 PM on April 6, 2002

In the hands of one of those brilliant journalists who can type an 85 wpm translation in English while listening to a live political speech in Spanish, the blog could be a secret weapon of sorts.

There are very VERY few people that can do this sort of thing for more than 10-20 minutes at a stretch. It's been established that simutaneous language translation is as taxing to the human body as extremely strenuous physical exercise; it literally takes up that much energy to do the processing, to say nothing of the emotional stress of worrying about screwing up, getting caught on a word you don't recognize and falling behind, etc. (Even UN translators aren't allowed to work more than 30 minute shifts at a time, and they're usually not typing, plus they tend to get a lot of mini-breaks as the conversations bounce back and forth.) But if you're bilingual, and can type well enough, you shouldn't find it particuarly hard to do for a few minutes at least. I used to have a friend who could do this, and she always made it quite clear to those that looked upon her talent with awe that if they'd just take a touch-typing class and do a little language immersion therapy, any halfway-bright person could pull it off.
posted by aaron at 10:08 PM on April 6, 2002

I defer to the majority, but I still think there are ideas worth following up there...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:48 PM on April 6, 2002

I'm somewhere in the middle, I guess. Esther Dyson points out the good, Anil points out the bad -- when it gets in the way of real-life communication, it's probably time to stop.

Those of you who live where people sit beside each other and send text messages over their cellphones instead of just opening their mouths (i.e. outside the U.S.), are you nodding your heads yes yet?
posted by lia at 12:34 AM on April 7, 2002

Those of you who live [...] outside the U.S. [...]

Scratching my head ... but that might be down to all the cellphone radiation. Seriously, I have never observed that phenomenon.
posted by walrus at 1:23 AM on April 7, 2002

Do you not take the tube, walrus?
posted by lia at 8:15 AM on April 7, 2002

I have seen people sending text messages, but not to the people sitting next to them. Now I'm starting to suspect that isn't what you meant. But before SMS messages, strangers on the tube weren't talking to each other anyway, in the most part. And most phones don't work on the tube, so there's less of it there than on the buses and overland trains.
posted by walrus at 11:17 AM on April 7, 2002

I've been waiting to see if Matt would link to this himself: he wrote a bit about real-time blogging at the most recent sxsw (scroll down past the "blogging panel" photo).
posted by Dean King at 11:29 AM on April 7, 2002

« Older Guidelines for contenious or inflammatory topics   |   Boston Meetup Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments