Why blogging conferences is so damn hard

Think it’s easy blogging a blogging conference? Think again.

(UPDATE: If you’re reading this post in a feed reader, you may see a big block of spam below. Sorry about that — my blog has been hacked. I’m working to fix it.)

The thing about conferences is that, in my opinion, it’s really damn hard to both attend the conference and blog about it much — unless I go to the conference specifically to blog it. A lot of things get in the way.

Right now I’m at Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas, where yesterday my blogging ethics panel went very well (thanks to my excellent panelist and a very engaged audience). More about that panel later.

Here’s a quick rundown of my reasons (or excuses) why I have a hard time blogging at conferences, unless that’s my reason for being there…

  1. No time to post. Conferences (at least good ones) are about action and events. And when formal events (like panels or keynotes) aren’t in progress, there are myriad informal events — especially conversations, checking out exhibits, etc. I can’t write, talk, and listen at the same time. Ain’t happening.
  2. Lugging a laptop sucks. This is mostly my own fault. I haven’t yet gotten a smart phone or a tablet PC. Meanwhile, my hopes for an Apple tablet steadily recede into the realm of “yeah, right, keep dreaming.” While my Macbook isn’t a brick, it’s just heavy and clumsy enough that I have to think twice before pulling it out and getting it set up to post. Plus my computer bag is fine for going to a meeting or to deliver a workshop; it sucks to lug it around all day, especially in a town like Vegas which seems to assume the average human stride is 17 feet. Unless I’m going to be rooted in one spot with access to a power outlet and good wifi for awhile (which is what I’m doing now, in the conference’s “blogger lounger”), posting seems more physical trouble than it’s worth.
  3. Paying clients come first. I did a pretty good post for Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits yesterday about a great session I attended about military blogs — a topic of increasing interest to me (more about that later). Poynter pays me, and I really like working for them. Contentious is an important vehicle for my consulting business and, well, everything I’m interested in — but when no one is writing me a check for a particular post (or to blog over a particular period of time), immediate priorities shift.
  4. I’m tired. At conference, I talk to a lot of people, which is generally a lot of fun — although I occasionally experience utter social frustration (illustrated below, video courtesy of Graydancer). But all that social interaction — which I value — saps my energy. That makes it tempting to put off blogging.

OK, so enough whining. On to solutions. I’m realizing that these things are becoming a priority for me:

  • Get a more ergonomic laptop bag. Preferably a backpack model that doubles as a briefcase. Something that doesn’t keep killing my back. I’m seriously aching here today.
  • Get a really good moblogging tool. I’d like to take the luxury of waiting to see what’s in the next iPhone, but the need is getting more urgent, so I’ll start shopping now.
  • Learn to microblog more effectively. I’ve been getting pretty impressed by the capabilities of Twitter, Del.icio.us, and other services that can provide microblogging. If I can shift my thinking effectively, I could do a lot more with that — and integrate it into this blog.
  • Get over the guilt. I’ll blog when I get to it, and generally that’s not really a problem. I need to have more realistic expectations for myself.

OK, time to grab some lunch…

4 thoughts on Why blogging conferences is so damn hard

  1. I saw wanted to come to Vegas, but family event prevented me. I’m tired of live blogging mostly because of your reasons above and because I’m often speaking too. That just takes a lot of your brainpower from live blogging. I’m definitely going to improve my micro blogging techniques and tool kits. Maybe we can do a session at BlogHer on the art of micro blogging?

    Loved the video!

  2. There’s another angle on this too … had a conversation with Vicki Davis on WOW2 – and micro blogging is also useful in educational projects where there is low bandwidth – like Cambodia. The whole thing of teaching students to write concisely – and bioling it down.

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