Micro-Blogging Conference Talks

I’ve seen a lot of neat stuff discussed at the Science in the 21st Century meeting, some of which I’ll talk about in more detail later, when I have more time to think. One of the most interesting experiences of the meeting, though, has been using FriendFeed to sort of collaboratively live-blog the talks, along with a bunch of other people.

You can get some of the flavor from looking at the comments on Timo Hannay’s talk (PIRSA video link, which is worth a look). Not only are there several people making notes as the talk goes along, there are links to things mentioned in the talk, for easy reference. There are also a few side discussions, and questions raised by talk.

This makes for an interesting conference experience, and isn’t something I could do myself– unlike Kate, or Ethan Zuckerman, I don’t type quickly enough to accurately transcribe talks in progress. I can, however, use Google to look things up, and post the URL’s, along with occasional comments. Combine this with a few other people with better typing skills, and you can get a good and useful set of talk notes without any one person neecding to do anything superhuman.

In another part of the FriendFeed “room” for the meeting, Michael Nielsen referred to this as “microblogging,” which isn’t a bad description. I was sort of skeptical about the FriendFeed thing when I first saw it mentioned, but I think this is a really useful tool, at least in situations where you have a number of people all collaborating in this way to make a group record.

Now, I’d really like to see this adopted more widely, so we could have this kind of useful record for more talks and panels…