Saturday, June 09, 2007

Blogging and vlogging till your food gets cold

(picture by Alec)
I've been working hard for two days (actually three, the next day there was still a lot of uploading and blogging to do) to blog/vlog part of the EUFORIC/CONCORD meeting in Brussels. The idea behind blogging/vlogging the event was to make sure that other members or interested persons who can not make it to the event for whatever reason, can also engage with what happened and what was discussed, and be part of it or learn from it. This is a group that are for the majority not yet 'web2.0' users, so it would also be a way of showing what you can do with the tools. By the way, is a blog which combines 'normal' blogposts with 'vlogposts' a bvlog or a vblog? Anyhow you can see the result here.

How did we go about it? We had a team of 6 people and did not have a chance to meet for a long time beforehand. 4 people had a lot of time to devote to the process, 2 people less. That worked well, since there were many parallel sessions and we had a strict way of dividing up the tasks of trying to get some interesting posts out of a session. Basically we had several mail exchanges, skype and telephone talks and a wiki page with the team to prepare ourselves, and know what we were going to do, talk through the division of tasks, logistics and purpose of the blog (not to cover everything, but to share interesting remarks and conversations). We created a variety of free accounts for the event, to produce materials in different formats:

  • A flickr group , to which anyone can post pictures

  • We had a wiki already and added a category for this event

  • A account

  • We set up the special blog in advance too, with various posters, and a guest blogger account and the blog was feeding into the main EUFORIC site

  • Slideshare to be able to upload and possible share all presentations

One of my favorite videos, filmed by Martin, is this one. Francois has over 20 years experience in development and expresses his opinion about the lack of appreciation for southern contributions and research.

The funniest one, because you have to turn your computer 90 degrees is this one:

Which brings me to the lessons learned from the process.. I guess for a new team, you have to go through a learning process, making these kind of mistakes (we also missed one of the interviews, it was not recorded..). Hard to avoid, but it might help to do more testing beforehand, and looking at a few videos together and see what you like/dislike about them. The workload would have been more evenly spread, if we had all learned to upload videos, edit them, upload them to and embed them into the blog (that was now done by two people). On a positive note, with a dedicated team of 4; you can capture a conference in a multi-medial way using free online tools.

What really worked well is that we grew more confident and managed to drag people in. Nancy White, one of the presentors, shared her pictures immediately with the group account, and so did Alec later spontaneously. The second day we asked various people to blog directly using our computers. Fortunately we had a web2.0 training session, in which we could both teach people more about the tools as well as explain what we were doing. So we were really happy that in the closing session after the open space, various participants said they would 'put in on the blog'. As the central online space for the conference. Next time, more advertisement could be done beforehand, but I guess we waited for something to show and were shy to point to an empty blog.

How does it make a difference?: it would be interesting to do a short survey amongst members attending/non-attending to ask them how the appreciated it. I noticed some videos got almost immediately 25 views on but suspect the viewers may be regular users rather than the members or participants. So in my most cynical mood I could think the team let their food go cold for a blog that may not really be read. On the other hand (looking at it from a more optimistic angle!) it makes the conversations in such a conference suddenly publicly available! And hence create a huge enlargement of the impact what was said and done within the walls and gardens of the chant d'oiseau enormously. What I would hope for is that it creates space for other voices to be heard, maybe from the people who would normally not talk in a plenary session. That's something we could be more conscious about next time, as we were now too busy running around and missing our lunches.

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