Reflections on event socialreporting

One of my ideas for social reporting is to add some buzz to events by videoblogging and other ways of amplifying conversations – so it was great to get a job from the organiser of the National Digital Inclusion Conference to do just that. I was terrifically grateful that Dave Briggs could join me, because it turned out to be quite challenging on several fronts. You can read Dave’s report here, and some comments on our efforts from Shane McCracken here. Dave and I recorded our own summing up on the day.

As Dave explains, we set up a WordPress blog, and the friendly people at Qik also created an event page so I could stream video from my Nokia N82.

Our brief (we were being paid) was pretty open: capture some informal video to complement the webcasts of presentations that public-i were doing.

The main challenge was that it was a conventional event format: presentations, coffee breaks and break-out sessions, attended mainly by public sector staff who did not expect to have video cameras thrust into their face. I thought that people were pretty responsive in the circumstances … but it is difficult to get good audio in a noisy room, and you lose the moment if you take off into corridors.

This means there’s a great temptation to record interview with exhibitors when everyone else is off being Powerpointed. Dave livened that up by recording me trying some disabling gloves at one of the most interesting stands that simulated various forms of disability.

Maybe we could have produced more interesting content if we had aimed to create some narrative from the conference … but it is difficult to do that at the same time as editing video and trying to line up the next opportunity. To do full coverage it really needs a team of three: one writer, one video blogger, and one person editing and uploading. Next week we’ll have content from public-i, and at that stage it may be worth taking more quotes from the video and weaving in into other content, including presentations and webcasts. Some people are having trouble with the videos, and I think I need to embed a different Flash player.

The main lesson for me is that good socialreporting at events needs to be designed in to the format: clear ideas of what you are trying to achieve, for whom, with logistics to match. It doesn’t work too well as an add-on. But then, you can’t design it in until you have a few examples to show organisers … so thanks again to Stephen Hilton for lining up the opportunity, and the rest of the DC10plus organisers for taking a chance.

The following day I was socialreporting at a Festival of Ideas for the Innovation Exchange, which was a less formal occasion. More on that later.


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  • May 3, 2008 - 12:52 am | Permalink

    David, I really feel that you and Dave did a sterling job on all of this. It helped convey what the conversation was all about, and importantly about the people participating too. I really hope to see more of this in the future. It really is needed on so many levels; not just for those that can’t attend an event, nor just for the outcomes achieved from an event, but it’s the people part that was captured which is important. A job well done, and the journey of your and Dave Briggs’ learnings very valuable too. Would be good to see the building in of social reporting into the conference planning over here, at early stages of event planning stages to enable even more impact.
    Keep it up… inpspired and enthused to see how this all evolves!

  • May 3, 2008 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks Laura – that’s really encouraging. As always the key issue is to agree who you are doing it for … and I hope I would be clearer about that in future. It feels like it is a bit of balancing act between organisers and participants – whose preferences and requirements should be respected – and others who could not attend, and might value some analysis as well as reportage. Maybe the way through that is to agree with those at the event that the social reporter’s role is to help them reach out to a wider audience, hopefully participatively. More facilitative than standard reporting.

  • May 7, 2008 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    Hi David
    Interesting post. I’m keen to introduce some of this social reporting stuff into the Third Sector Foresight events that we run. I have located a video camera to borrow from elsewhere in the building so now we just have to dive in and give it a go! Any tips about how to put people who do ‘not expect to have video cameras thrust into their face’ (as you put it) at ease, and get good stuff?

  • May 7, 2008 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Thanks Megan – in capturing video, it obviously helps to tell people what you are planning at the outset, and why. People may respond to the opportunity to tell peope not in the room about what they are doing.
    I’m finding it easier to get informal clips using a mobile phone … Nokia N82 plus streaming to
    Some examples here How about we organise an experimental session?

  • May 15, 2008 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi David,

    I really like the idea of social reporting – and great that you’re articulating it here.

    Working with Talkaoke for the last five years, I’ve noticed that the ‘social reporting’ element – adding to the documentation and visibility of discussions and themes of events we augment is a highly valuable – but poorly understood – process. Our experience of documenting Social Innovation Camp was an object lesson in the value of this kind of work.

    I think there’s a lot of mileage in developing the techniques and technologies of social reporting (there are significant technical challenges to producing blog-ready video/audio in a single, spontaneous take) – and I’m eager to help with that and feed in ideas and experiences from The People Speak.



  • May 16, 2008 - 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Saul – thanks for that encouragement and interest. I do feel we are on to something here, but also conscious that I have lots to learn on producing video and other content that works both for people at the event, and others. I’ll be in touch. Maybe we need a Talkaoke on the subject ….

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