How to Live Blog

Comments 9 by Rebecca Bollwitt

This should really be called, Liveblogging: Explained or how Miss604 does it – cause I’m sure there are numerous methods, but although I am no expert or professional, over the last year I’ve done a handful of live blogs at events and conferences. One question that always comes up is “how does it work?” so I suppose I’ll take a minute here to explain just how a live blog works.

Basically a live blog is someone posting content in real time on their blog. No you cannot see the text appear before your eyes as they’re typing, but if the reader refreshes periodically, more text will appear. This happens by the author creating a post, hitting publish, and then going back into the same post and editing/saving sporadically throughout the duration of the event.

Authors: Advertise days in advance so readers know to tune in.
Readers: Show up, refresh x repeat.
Authors: Publish Once + Edit/Save as necessary.

The first live blog I ever followed was probably Alanah’s, when she ran Vancouver Canucks Op Ed (predecessor to Canucks and Beyond). Alanah would live blog Canucks games, making time stamps based on the time left in the period or separating sections of the post by period. She would comment on the game, give stats, and provide a forum for other watchers, fans and readers to comment and discuss what was going on at ice level. Live blogging is just that much more fun when you know you have an audience and you leave comments wide open, getting a dialog going is a fantastic way to communicate your experience to the readers.

My first live blog was last August at Matthew Good‘s apartment when he had an intimate invite-only mini-concert for fans before leaving on a trip [Miss604]. I applied the same concept, I kept one browser window open displaying my site, opened up the comments and kept another browser open with my editor so I could type and publish on the fly. I used actual timestamps to make my place and shared quotes, jokes, the playlist and various other tidbits with the readers. I was also able to connect my camera to my laptop and have John take photos. I would then upload them to Flickr and include them in my post. Readers would then be able to see exactly why I was talking about, while it was happening. At that time Matt also asked me to read out some questions directed at him in the comments, and I would type out the answers for his fans.

Live Blog Begins

Since then, I’ve blogged events while attending, such as Barcamp (which was actually the same weekend as the living room show) and Northern Voice. Those were not truly live blogs but more like… 15 minutes after the fact, recaps. The next true live blog was SuperHappyDevHouse, followed by DemoCamp01. I have also previously published a post entitled “Liveblogging, Is It Worth it?” in response to something I read on Seth Godin’s blog.

It’s definitely difficult to relay information on the go, it’s basically rapid-fire note taking. I find that I type a lot of inside jokes when I’m liveblogging, things that could either be better explained with a post-mortem or left out entirely in a recap. What I find most valuable about liveblogging is the instant feedback and interaction with readers – Miss604

Most recently, this past weekend I found myself almost a year later, live blogging another private show of Matt Good’s. This time it was in Las Vegas [Miss604], and I had some more help with the photos [Flickr].

“i got to meet miss604 who liveblogged the event perfectly and gracefully and far better than i imagined. she took pictures and was later relived from that duty by the totally capable duane storey who had a sweet camera and was uploading them to flickr within minutes of taking the pics.” [Tony Pierce]

The best part is being able to provide some kind of portal for those who cannot attend these events. Even when I do not get any comments or interaction, I still get to archive a blog post about something I experienced. If I get to share that with thousands people live, or five several months later, it makes it all worthwhile.

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9 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JohnWednesday, July 4th, 2007 — 9:44pm PDT

    Great topic for a post Rebecca!

    One of the things I have wondered about live blogging is do you find that you spend more time on your laptop than actually participating/taking in the event? I would guess it would depend on the event and how actively you need to be involved in it.

    It’s kind of like being a photographer at an event where you are moving around the event ‘space’ taking pictures but you’re not actually (directly) involved in it since you are focusing more on technically taking the photos than participating in the event.

    Having been to a lot of conferences over the years, it’s always interesting to see everyone with their laptops and cameras covering an event….live blogging the event is fundamentally just electronic note taking. It’s always great to have potentially multiple sets of notes and perspectives to refer back to later on for that event.

  2. RebeccaWednesday, July 4th, 2007 — 10:27pm PDT

    It’s fairly easy for the Matt Good shows, as my posting increments are usually several minutes apart (based on song length) and I can listen and enjoy as well as type periodically and publish. It’s even better when there is crowd/comment interaction with what I am typing because it rolls all of that in the experience. Also, when he puts down the guitar, I put down the laptop and mingle along with the rest of the folks.

    As for the conferences and such, it can definitely be tough and I’m certain my experience is different than others. But like with the concert, when the presentation is done, I’m done typing and again I can mix and mingle with other attendees.

    In no way do I ever regret live blogging as it lets me soak everything up in my own way – but sometimes the “shortly after recap posts” are more fitting :-p

  3. JohnWednesday, July 4th, 2007 — 11:02pm PDT

    I think the fact that your experience is different is a good thing….especially if you capture it by live blogging.

    Then it’s usually an easy thing to find on the web to fill in the gaps in one’s own notes (mental or physical) of an event….or to document something exclusive and special like a private concert that only a few can attend.

    Quite often I’ve read live blogs of events I attended and will find out something happened that I missed (which can make me mad if it was something cool) or someone makes a point or connection that I didn’t make.

    So it’s all good….and maybe more people should be documenting things this way.

  4. DuaneWednesday, July 4th, 2007 — 11:34pm PDT

    Actually John, what you said is pretty valid. I love taking photos and was totally happy I got to shoot some of Matt and the people there, but afterwards I sort of lamented the fact that I didn’t get much time to sit and listen. For a couple of songs I deliberately put my camera down so I could enjoy it more, but it’s definitely a trade-off with being a photographer.

    And Rebecca, while I was reading this, I came up with a cool idea for a live-blog wordpress plugin. Let’s talk about it tomorrow.

  5. ryanTuesday, September 4th, 2007 — 2:03pm PDT

    I’m about to liveblog my first conference, in a semi-official capacity, in a couple of weeks. Does anyone know how to set up a page that will auto-refresh for the reader?

  6. Miss604Tuesday, September 4th, 2007 — 2:07pm PDT

    Hey Ryan, I’m not sure about blogging platforms but Firefox does have an add-on that readers can apply and set to reload pages automatically. (

  7. John BollwittTuesday, September 4th, 2007 — 7:43pm PDT

    You could also just set your whole site to auto refresh every five minutes or something, just for the duration of your live blog.

    Try this out:

  8. Miss604’s Vancouver Blog » New Liveblogging Tool I’ll Use at DemoCampVancouver05Monday, February 4th, 2008 — 10:07am PST

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