Blogged lots of conferences lately. Of course, part of it is my business. I have observed a couple of different modes of conference blogging:
- Dedicated Transcription -- word for word. Usually conference bloggers will cede this mode by the second session to someone who does it really well, who then feels obligated to keep it up. Perhaps the most helpful for readers. For some bloggers this helps them absorb what is being said. Archetype: Heath Row (example)
- Impressionistic Transcription -- paraphrase with flair. Usually makes the speakers sound better than they are. Adds a little context that makes particular sense if you have been following related memes in blogspace. Great for the writer because the informality excuses waning attention and need to quote accurately. Archetype: Cory Doctorow (example)
- Running Commentary -- paraphrase with opinion. While blogging in real time, interspersing the opinions or views of the blogger. Perhaps the most value added activity of one person. Takes real skill to capture the essence of a session and add your own. Archetypes: Mitch Ratcliffe or Doc (example)
- Poignant Reflection -- pure commentary. How most people blog conferences. Listen, reflect and post. What drives the post is usually a key quote or a contrary opinion. Archetype: Jerry Michalski (example)
- Coverage -- producing a report. This isn't really conference blogging, but there are pros that cover events as journalists. Now they have lots of competition, but are also sourcing blogs to help their production. Archetype: Shel Israel (example not available because you have to pay for it)
- Backchannel -- chat without content. Of course, you an always not blog, but what you say may end up in someone else's blog. Archetype: #joiito
- Remote Participation -- fact check and amplify. Particularly with webcast or Chiki conferences, remote participants add greater context and commentary. In-room participants watch these remote posts and sometimes bring activity at the edge back into sessions. Archetype: Kevin Marks (example)
- Refactor Me -- group voice. When the conference is augmented by an Eventspace or wiki. For each session, people take different notes in different forms as blog posts. Within a wiki, the group then refactors into a single session page. Opens contribution up to non-bloggers and shy domain experts who would rather intersperse important facts with relative anonymity. The result is an amalgamation of the above modes. Also leads to the creation of more diverse content, conversation and networking. Archetype: everyone (example)
The above are obviously generalizations, interested if others have observed different modes. I often drift from mode to mode in different conferences. Usually I start with Impressionistic Transcription to get my juices flowing and communicate as much as possible for remote participants. But as the conference progresses and key themes emerge, I'll shift into Running Commentary and Poignant (hopefully) Reflection.
My 7th grade biology teacher suggested an approach to note taking. Its the first year where most kids take notes, or are told to without teaching them how. Most kids went straight to transcription, but that obviously can impede learning for most. His suggestion was to write down the things you DON'T know.
Having an audience for your notes, something bloggers are accustomed to, means you have the burden of what others don't know. As conference blogging picks up, this will be less of a problem.