Live Blogging – A Next Step

    April 23, 2007

The kerfuffle over live blogging isn’t likely to subside any time soon, given the growing popularity of live online communication. Add audio and video to the mix and the people who hold live blogging in disdain are likely to go apopleptic.

To summarize, the foes of live blogging don’t like its instant nature—they’d rather bloggers took notes offline then pondered those notes for a while before writing an article (instead of instantly posting their notes). They also don’t like the fact that bloggers are tapping away at their keyboards—a distraction for the speaker.

If typing is a distraction, wait’ll people start showing up with video cameras aimed at them! Sites like Stickam and UStream let anybody with a camera and a Net connection broadcast live video. Initially, these services gained attention when a San Francisco tech guy named Justin began live-broadcasting just about everything he did, including sleep.

Of course, live webcams are hardly new, but the ability to house the stream on any page, a la YouTube, is just one of the features that makes these sites more compelling than the typical webcam broadcast.

Over at PodTech Robert Scoble and Jeremiah Owyang took UStream for a spin at the recent Web 2.0 conference, using the live streaming capability to broadcast panel discussions and other activities. (Jeremiah wrote about it here.)

As if being broadcast live—every word you say—isn’t enough, you could also be recorded for posterity. It has long been one of Doug Kaye‘s goals to capture as many meetings, conferences, workshops, speeches and other activities as audio files and make them searchable and retrievable. Recently, Kaye launched , “Podcorps a corps of volunteer stringers who can show up at these events with their digital recorders, process the digital audio, and then publish it — typically at the Internet Archive,” according to Jon Udell’s report.

I suppose those who don’t like live blogging may have less of a problem with live video and recorded audio, since they present accurate accounts and cannot be spun by an author (Steve Crescenzo’s criticism of live blogging that took place during one of his talks). But again, the argument can be made that most TV reporters shoot video, then go back to the studio and edit it. Of course, that’s not the case for on-the-spot reporting, and access to services like UStream and Stickam will make just about any event on-the-spot, and the audio files uploaded to the Internet Archive will be of the “live to the hard drive” variety—recorded and uploaded without any post-production. And in terms of distraction, as Shel Israel (the target of Crescenzo’s ire) notes, “What happens when UStream gets popular and there are as many cameras in the room as there are clickers on keyboards?”

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It doesn’t really matter; it’s here and conference organizers and other institutions will have to figure out how to make the best of it. Certainly there are opportunities to do more than ban cameras, along with laptops, from conferences.