Experiment: Great Live Event Coverage for Hire. What do you think?

As I mentioned in my previous post, today I’m liveblogging and tweeting a daylong Las Vegas event by Metzger Associates: Social Media for Executives. It’s a small event for a select group of executives representing several types of companies.

I’m doing this as a pilot test for a new professional service I’d like to start offering: Great live event coverage.

In my experience, most online event coverage isn’t so great. A few folks will be tweeting or blogging in several places, some hashtags will be used, but it’s all rather confusing and inconsistent to follow. Also, a lot of people tend to tweet items like “Jane Doe is speaking at this session now.” Uh-huh… AND….?

Liveblogging/tweeting has turned out to be a real strength of mine — I’m good at it, and I enjoy it. I’ve also had the good fortune to collect a sizable Twitter following among folks whose interests in media, business, and other fields overlap with mine — and who enjoy my particular blend of reporting, analysis, and attitude. (Or at least I guess they do, because every time I do live event coverage my Twitter posse swells noticeably and those folks tend to stick around afterward.)

I do a lot of live event coverage via Twitter and CoverItLive. For instance, earlier this month for my client the Reynolds Journalism Institute I liveblogged/tweeted J-Lab’s Fund My Media Startup workshop at the 2009 Online News Association conference.

So, being a longtime entrepreneur always on the lookout for new opportunities, I’m looking for ways to offer live event coverage as a service for my clients. Today’s event is an experiment on this front.

I want to figure out how this service could work in a way that would appeal to my Twitter posse, maintain my integrity and independence, and provide value to clients who’d pay for it.

Here are some of the issues I’m wrestling with, that I’d welcome your thoughts on…

Continue reading

Social Media for Executives: Live coverage today

Today I’ll be liveblogging and tweeting a Las Vegas event by Metzger Associates: Social Media for Executives. It’s a small event for a select group of executives representing several types of companies.

The event is billed as a “strategic overview of how to evaluate key areas of your company — including customer service, marketing communications and human resources — and determine why and how they might benefit from social media participation.

Here’s the liveblog:

I’ll also be tweeting event coverage and observations at my own Twitter account (agahran), with cross-posting to the Metzger Associates Twitter account (MetzgerAssoc). You can also follow the hashtag #execsocmed. And I’ll be tagging some tweets with the popular hashtag #socmed (for “social media”), to encourage broader discussion and participation.

This event is NOT part of BlogWorld Expo, which is also in Vegas this week, and which I’m not attending (several folks have asked).

I’m doing this particular bit of coverage as test for a new professional service I’d like to start offering more systematically: Good event coverage for hire. More about that in my next post

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Government 2.0: More Transparency Online

Several planners of the recent Government 2.0 camp

Several planners of the recent Government 2.0 camp (By Patrick at work, via Flickr)

There is a movement afoot among government employees to use “social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies to create a more effective, efficient and collaborative U.S. government on all levels.” It’s called Government 2.0, and it could end up being very useful for journalists, citizens, and government officials and employees.

Members of this movement held a lively and productive unconference, Government 2.0 camp, in late March in Washington, D.C. The Twitter stream for the hashtags #gov20camp and #gov20 are still going strong.

Personally, I find this movement remarkable and encouraging. One of the great difficulties citizens encounter in learning about or interacting with their government has been the top-down, silo-focused, and generally tight-lipped or obfuscatory approach typical of government communication…

Continue reading

My She’s Geeky Tweets, Part 1: Agile Methodologies

For me the session on Agile Methodologies led my Desi McAdam of Hashrocket was one of the highlights of January’s She’s Geeky unconference. It was one of those occasions when I felt several disparate pieces of context clicking into place and starting to make sense.

NOTE: This is part of a series based on my live tweets from At last weekend’s She’s Geeky unconference in Mountain View, CA.

Series index

My immediate need for understanding more about Agile development is that I’m helping to organize the new Reynolds Journalism Inst. News Collaboratory. The point of this effort, as Jason Kristufek recently wrote, is to be a “do tank,” not a think tank, for experimenting with new options for the news business.

That’s why we’re trying to engage in this community people with diverse types of “do” experience — technologists, librarians, entrepreneurs, financiers, advertising and marketing pros, etc. And, yes, journalists too. The point is to actually get people working together to try stuff and share the results, not just to talk about stuff.

The question then becomes: How do you get people to decide on which problems to solve or experiments to try, parse those out into doable chunks, move their efforts forward, and assess results? Rather than try to do this all on the fly, I thought it might be useful to borrow some ideas and practices from Agile development.

For context, here’s the Agile Manifesto, as well as an excerptWikipedia’s current article on Agile:

“Agile methodologies generally promote a project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices that allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals.”

So with that context, here are my live tweets from this discussion (cleaned up a bit). Unless otherwise attributed, all points made here came from Desi McAdam…

  • Now in the Agile methodologies session, which I hope will help with RJI collaboratory.
  • There’s a difference between Agile development & utter chaos. But Agile can devolve into chaos.
  • Agile is a very rigid process. If you don’t stick to the process, things fall apart quickly.
  • Agile is an iterative process: earlier work gets outdated quickly. Cycles are smaller, iterative, to adapt to change as change happens.
  • Pair programming is more popular with females — more interactive, cooperative. Keeps you on track, out of rat holes.
  • In Agile, you have to be disciplined: Organizations and your pair partner must be disciplined. Very accountable.
  • Pair programming is a wonderful way to do knowledge transfer.
  • Pair programming improves code quality. If you’re coding and someone’s watching, you’re less likely to do something hacky.
  • Pair programming is more productive. People don’t generally like to interrupt working pairs. (Interesting!)
  • Agile also is about sustainable work pace: Don’t burn people out, get the most benefit from coders.
  • Some companies require some up-front planning, like wireframes or mockups, before throwing Agile development team on it. Do you have a good base?
  • Agile used in Spot.us development process. David Cohn came to us with wireframes. We started storycarding. Right off bat, we had to prioritize and think about what desired feature could go.
  • Storycard = definition of a chunk of work. Say what the business value is first. Get client to tell you, helps set priorities
  • Glitches with Agile: Lack of quality assurance (QA): Developers should be writing test code. Pivotal tracker (popular Agile project management tool) doesn’t address QA.
  • Rally, other tools do account for QA — but they’re bloated and slow and tedious to use. Simpler configurable tools needed.
  • Standup meetings: key part of Agile process. Can work in any organization. Very short meeting: everyone stands up, gives recent and current tasks, identifies obstacles.
  • Agile is hard to do in a distributed environment (workers not in same location). iChat, screen sharing helps. Good manager/developer communication is crucial.
  • Good Agile stories follow INVEST principles (from Extreme Programming, a related discipline): Independent (self-contained), Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable (you can guess how involved/big it might be), Small, Testable.
  • ME: I’m liking the story analogy of the Agile process. I think media people will be able to relate to that.
  • Negotiable = not defining the story in such rigid detail that it can’t be changed.
  • Desi recommends Liz Keogh as a great resource on thinking about Agile.
  • ME: The Agile session is incredibly valuable! Desi rocks!!! I needed exactly this info right now!
  • I’ll be sharing more thoughts on Agile later — but for now here are a couple of takeaways that struck me:

    Storycarding reminds me of journalistic news judgment. The process of breaking a project down into tasks that meet invest criteria reminds me how journalists and editors decide which news and information warrant development into a story. Both involve assessing a situation and needs, and matching it with criteria. Both appear to be more like art than than science or rote procedure.

    Applying Agile techniques to other fields (such as news and journalism) is itself an experiment that should be handled in clear storycard-like chunks. It may not work, and it certainly would be a culture shift. I think, for cultural reasons this is a strong reason to involve geeks, entrepreneurs, and others in this process — and to team them together with journalists to promote knowledge transfer.

    …More thoughts later. But for now, what do you think? Please comment below.

    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

    How to start a Twitter hashtag

    More and more people are covering live events and breaking news via Twitter — and usually there are several Twitter users covering the same event. Hashtags are a handy tool for pulling together such disparate coverage.

    A hashtag is just a short character string preceded by a hash sign (#). This effectively tags your tweets — allowing people to easily find and aggregate tweets related to the event being covered.

    If you’re live-tweeting, you’ll want to know and use an appropriate hashtag. Earlier I explained why it’s important to propose and promote an event hashtag well before the event starts. But where do event hashtags come from?…

    Doyle Albee, maven of the miniskirt theory of writing, asked me:

    “I’ve used hashtags a bunch, but never started one. If, by some chance, there are two events (or whatever) using the same hashtag, does everyone searching just see both until one changes, or is there some sort of registration or vetting process?”

    Here’s my take on this…

    Continue reading

    Live-tweeting an event? Set your hashtag UP FRONT!

    I do a lot of live event coverage via Twitter, and I also follow a lot of events (especially conferences) via Twitter. One thing I’ve learned: It helps your Twitter audience immensely if, before the event (or at the start) the people tweeting it develop a consensus on the hashtag for the event.

    That’s what Horn Group VP Susan Etlinger did earlier, for the PR/Blogger panel her company is hosting tonight. She’s one of several Twitter users who helped launch this hashtag simply by adopting and promoting it:

    Susan Etlinger helps launch a hashtag by using it.

    Susan Etlinger helps launch a hashtag by using it.

    And here’s the fruit that this kind of coordination can bear: Check out the #PRblog hashtag

    …So: what’s a hashtag, and why is this so important?…

    Continue reading

    TechStars Investor Day and other good stuff today

    This morning I had the privilege of attending some of the morning presentations from this year’s crop of TechStars startup companies in an event called “Investor Day,” held at the Boulder Theater.  TechStars is a Boulder, CO-based program that provides seed capital and mentorship for tech startups. SocialThing (which just got bought by AOL) and Brightkite were both graduates of last summer’s TechStars.

    The main reason I went was because my good friends Susan Mernit and Lisa Williams were presenting the flagship product, WhozAround, from their new company, People’s Software Company. I’ve been watching them endure the TechStars maelstrom this summer, and they pulled through great despite lots of pressure and stresses.

    WhozAround is currently a Facebook application in alpha. It’s the first step in their plan to bypass the current communication chaos that ensues whenever two or more people try to agree on a place & time to meet. As Susan said in her presentation today, “Do all those e-mails, IMs, texts, Facebook notifications, and other messages really make getting together easier?” I can answer that with a resounding “NOT!!!”

    Here’s Susan giving the presentation:

    Susan Mernit presenting at TechStars Investory Day, 2008

    And Susan and Lisa taking questions from investors:

    Susan Mernit & Lisa Williams taking questions from investors

    (Apologies for the crappy images, my iPhone camera isn’t great for that sort of lighting and distance. I was sitting in the balcony.)

    I’ll be heading back to the Boulder Theater in a couple of hours for the Tech Cocktails event there:

    Tech Cocktails

    But some more cool stuff happened today…

    Continue reading

    FriendFeed for Backup LiveTweeting

    I’m using a new FriendFeed account, amylive, as a backup for my live coverage in case Twitter fails (which happens).

    I’m here at the last day of BlogHer 2008 in San Francisco, where I’ve been covering live coverage of some sessions via my amylive account on Twitter. (Many other attendees have been tweeting about the conference, too.)

    My amylive Twitter account is separate from my regular agahran account — because when I’m doing live coverage the tweets come fast and furious, in a way that’s overwhelming and annoying to people who aren’t interested in the event.

    Trouble is, Twitter is prone to abrupt failure. Yesterday it went down during the morning keynote, which was a shame because some great things were said that I wasn’t able to transmit.

    So I’ve figured out a backup plan: Friendfeed, which seems to have more reliable up-time than Twitter.

    Here’s my strategy so far. Tell me what you think…

    Continue reading

    Twittercasting on AIR: Snitter & Spaz

    Snitter (top) and Spaz (bottom): Two AIR-based apps for using Twitter that I’m trying out.

    While I was “Twittercasting” (part of my ever-expanding online media vocabulary) the Total Community Coverage in Cyberspace seminar in Los Angeles a few days ago, I found myself repeatedly tripped up and annoyed by the Twitter.com posting interface.

    As I mentioned earlier, I set up a second Twitter account (amyliveblogging) to use for live event coverage via Twitter — so as not to overwhelm my regular Twitter followers at agahran.

    I learned during my most recent Twittercasting foray that when you have two Twitter accounts, the regular Twitter.com interface tends to log you out of one account and into another at random times. I’d be Twittering away on amyliveblogging, and then all of the sudden my Tweets would be posting to agahran. So I’d have to log out of Twitter and then log back in again under the correct account. Meanwhile, people following my main (agahran) account were probably puzzled by seminar-related tweets.

    So this morning I finally installed Adobe AIR, a cool platform for web-enabled applications (kind of like Mac desktop widgets, but more powerful.) Then I installed two popular AIR apps for posting to Twitter: Snitter (which I’m using to post to my agahran account) and Spaz (which I’ll use for posting to amyliveblogging). I’ll post more about how I like/dislike these apps as time goes on.

    However, what I’d really like would be a single application (AIR-based or otherwise) that would allow me to manage posting to multiple Twitter accounts without getting randomly logged out.

    Have you seen something like that? Please comment below.