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Preparing to Live Blog an Event

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Apple MacBook
Apple MacBook

I’ve been asked to live blog an event for a client and their members. Actually, I’ll be live blogging, podcasting, Twittering, Uttering, and live streaming an event.

I am putting together my equipment, securing accounts with all the online tools and services I need, and reviewing the schedule so I’m prepared. This will be a major undertaking that will include two 12 hour days as well as pre- and post-blogging.

Normally, live blogging a conference is done with a team, but this is a proof-of-concept so I’m on my own.

While I’ve live blogged and live tweeted conferences before, this is the first time I’ll be doing it formally for a client. The conference is not my usual fare – it is about philanthropy instead of Internet or technology. I’ve worked with many nonprofits over the last 15 years – including running a nonprofit in New York City in the mid-90s – so the issues aren’t foreign to me. Still, I’ll have to be on top of my game – with a healthy dose of caffeine – to keep up.

Here’s what I’ve put together so far for my Live Blogging Gear.

Keen Oswago Bag
Keen Oswago Bag

The Bag
I almost attempted to make a bag that could handle my MacBook, assorted digital devices and a variety of accessories and that would keep everything at my hip, fairly ergonomically balanced, and extremely accessible. Luckily, I found something close to what I needed at REI. The Oswago Keen bag sits neatly on my hip, and I can quickly access my MacBook, a notebook and pen, my digital camera, my video camera, my iPod Touch, extra batteries, and all of my power cords and accessories.

The Computer
Black MacBook. Perfect size, weight, capabilities, sleek and good looking. Why use anything else?

The Digital Camera
I’m using a Nikon Coolpix L5 – 7.2 Megapixels, 5x Zoom. An older model but still going strong. I’m still on the fence about upgrading to a slimmer, lighter model. I’ve been using a variety of Nikon Coolpix for many years after graduating from an old digital Olympus. Any recommendations? Keep in mind I am not a professional photographer, and these photos are mostly for the Web.

Flip Mino
Flip Mino

The Video Camera
I’ve got The Flip and love its self-contained utility. I’m upgrading from the original model to either an Ultra or a Mino. I should go for the Mino because in addition to the sleekness, it is rechargeable via USB port as well as power adapter. I’m planning to try live video streaming from Flip to Web.

The Digital Recorder
While I’d love to get the Marantz 660 because I also do radio (you remember radio, right?) in addition to audio podcasting, I’ve decided to be a little more frugal at the moment and get the Edirol / Roland R-09HR Portable High-Resolution Audio Recorder. Both were recommended to me by radio producers, although the latter choice was focused more on podcasting so that definitely works for the live blogging. I’ll be interviewing panelists and speakers before or after their sessions.

The Blog
At the moment, the client is setting up the blog. I’ll be consulting to make sure it is “social media ready.”
I’m planning on using to live stream parts of the conference. I’m still checking with the client about whether to keep all of this private (for their members only) or public.

In a pinch, I’ll post some Utterz when I don’t want to mess with the digital recorder and want to have some audio up on the organization’s blog quickly.

There will be a private collection of photos uploaded each day from the event on Flickr. These will also be posted on the blog along with additional cross-posting.

But of course I’ll do a little live Twittering on Twitter. It will be private though, only accessible by my client’s members.

Other Miscellany
I’m packing all the powercords and chargers including a slew of rechargeable batteries and a multi-battery recharger. Rule of live blogging: Never run out of power. And of course I am packing a notebook and pens to give my wrists a break. I’m pretty sure there is no way I can type notes on that many sessions without some repetitive stress injury.

As I look over my list, I wonder about overkill. However, even though there is some crossover of functionality, every device can serve a backup function in one way or another so I feel like I’m covered for everything.

What am I forgetting? What do YOU use when you live blog an event?

[photos from,,,]

26 Responses to “Preparing to Live Blog an Event”

  1. Aliza, thank you so much for this post. I’ve referred back to it at least three times now – I’m in the process of developing new media services for my clients, and live blogging is relatively new territory for me. Your suggestions and critiques about the hardware in particular are so helpful.

  2. Aliza Sherman

    marc oliver asks:
    what did you mean with : you check if the blog is social media ready? what do you need for min. requir ?

    What I specifically meant is that some of my clients have a Web developer unfamiliar with blogging set up their blog and the pub tool is configured to strip out javascript and the basic embed codes for importing video, audio and other content widgets.

    So at a minimum, the blog must support that kind of code and be able to display the video or audio player or the content feed widget. Without that capability, the blog has lost essential Web 2.0 functionality.

  3. Hey Aliza!

    I would definitely recommend using an aggregator whether FriendFeed or Ping.FM to allow posting to multiple services simultaneously. And having lost my internet connection in the middle of a presentation, I’d recommend ensuring that all services have ways to post from your cell phone enabled. You can use Jott to blog as well.


  4. This has got me thinking. Why not use FriendFeed’s ‘room’ functionality for live blogging, aggregating the digital acitivity, such as Tweets, photos and videos, of every attendee at events rather than just one reporter? Then project it big onto a screen so everyone can see stuff as it happens and have something afterwards to check out the details.

  5. Great post Aliza!

    I’ve only ever live-blogged twice, but I love doing it – gives me a real buz.

    I can’t stress how important it is to have a good power supply including backup.

    Recently I live-blogged (attempted to) from a social web conference (dConstruct, Brighton, UK). The exercise failed somewhat when I had no way to charge my tools from my chair. I just assumed we’d have power sockets to hand.

    Some of the tools I used to deliver the live-blogging:
    1. Macbook (power fail)
    2. iPhone (power fail)
    3. Canon digital camera: photos and video (power good)
    4. Internet / wifi (connection fail – occasionally)

    I’m learning and helping me to improve is by failing (and reading your post of course ;-))

    My attempt at live-blogging for the conference can be found at:

  6. I have to second what the earlier commenter said about making sure you double-check and back-up your internet access.

    I went in July to a national autism conference being held at a fairly new hotel/conference center in Orlando (Gaylord Palms) that boasted all over it’s website about its high-tech facilities and wifi, etc. I was planning on live-blogging the event.

    I called two days before the conference to ensure that there was nothing I needed to know about the technical specs of the wifi system, or that I didn’t need to pre-register. It turned out that in the conference center part of the building, there was a “small” charge for internet access via wifi – $600 per event!!!

    My outrage at this charge was greeted with the explanation that “but there’s free wifi in the hotel itself, you can get access THERE.” No one seemed to understand that there are conference attendees like myself who might actually need internet access *during* an event’s activities. I have attended conferences at many different hotels and centers and I’ve never been in one that didn’t have access available to attendees for a reasonable charge of around $10-20/day.

    Apparently this place is technologically backwards, can’t understand that vendors aren’t the only ones who need computer access – and intent on gouging the vendors for the privilege of having it. And they can’t be the only ones out there.

    Check your access beforehand!

  7. Thanks for all the input! Got the Mino Flip but still have my original Flip as backup.

    Also, YES, Seesmic! I just have to make sure I can do this privately – Alas for now, the client wants this all private for their members only.

    Can’t wait to check out

    My public Utterz account is alizasherman.

  8. I am covering an industry conference of 3 days later in the month and am using CoveritLive, my Flip, a Nikon D40 and my Nokia N93 as back up.

    Twitter is definitely great as well. You should also consider syndicating all this content (if the client agrees) with other platforms where it makes sense (their Fecabook page, Tumblr etc..) through RSS.

    PS: I created a group for professional conference bloggers (with a focus on Europe) on LinkedIn.

    If you’re interested to join, please do so at

  9. I’d highly recommend getting the Flip Ultra and some extra AA rechargeable batteries rather than the Mino.

    With AA’s you can always swap the batteries out in seconds. With a built-in you’re sunk until the device recharges which could cause you to miss opportunities in a live setting.

  10. Do consider adding Seesmic ( in there – to record live thoughts/analysis of the presentations – which can then be embedded in the blog.

    You can also use seesmic to record interviews with people if you can get them in front of your MacBook – and again, instantly embeddable into your blog.

    (Disclosure: I work with Seesmic, but I do genuinely think this could be a good addition to your stack. Best of luck with your conference!)

  11. It looks like you’re forgetting the most important part: internet access.

    You don’t want to lose the whole gig if wifi goes down.

    Its expensive, but you might want to consider some kind of cellular-based data service. Some phones have a tethered mode, and there are usb data-only devices.