Issac Asimov once said, "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." For me, live blogging notes from conferences and other gatherings helps me think through my fingers about what is being said in the room (and helps me retain it and share it with others (usually via my blog.)
So, I wonder what collaborative thinking through our fingers might look like when it comes to capturing and sharing notes from conferences, dialogs, meetings or informal gatherings. I often see many people taking notes at conference, either with pen in a moleskin or typing into a laptop. How can those notes best be aggregated in one place to be shared with all participants and perhaps with those who didn't attend the event?
So, some patterns I'm seeing on how this is being done.
1. Conference or Event Blog: A group blog is set up for the specific event or conference. A couple of examples are the NCDD Blog, Technology In the Arts Conference, and WorldCafe Stewardship Dialogue Blog. A team of "live bloggers" from the ranks of participants are recruited to post ramping up to the conference, assigned to take notes at sessions, and post after the event reflections or roundups. If others in attendance are also blogging, they are encouraged to comment, link or trackback to the posts.
This model can also be scaled to an entire blog community platform. Take for example, the netsquared conference.
2. Event or Conference Wiki: An elegant approach is to set up a wiki and assign note takers to use it to capture notes during the session. This might work best for a group where some post-event action on the ideas captured during the event might be anticipated. For example, during the Global s London Summit, a wiki was used to capture a brainstorming session and then to help bring those ideas foward in the months following the gathering.
Wikis can also be used in the pre-planning or organizing some of the social events. I've seen this used frequently with "unconference" or "open space" technology-oriented conferences and workshops. Take for example the upcoming podcamp in Boston that is using a wiki for registration, program planning, note taking, and virtually all the logistical details or any of the barcamp gatherings.
Both of the above examples are ones where the participants are especially comfortable with wikis and other Web2.0 tools, but what happens when you have a group of people who may not be? Britt Bravo recently attended Craigslist Foundation Nonprofit Boot Camp and pointed us to the Boot Camp Wiki. With this model, there is a "wiki moderator" who has posted notes for participants who have never used a wiki before.
Another example of using a wiki to organize captured notes was Amy Gahran's wiki of all the blog posts and notes from the recent Blogher conference, compiled post-event and facilitated by the use a conference tag. This is particularly useful if there is a great volume material that has been tagged and could benefit from a more organized presentation than a "messy" tag stream.
3. Photo Streams: Conference or event organizers identify and promote a conference or event tag and encourage those with digital cameras to post their photos in flickr using that tag. Take for example these two nonprofit oriented conferences: Games for Change and Nonprofit Technology Conference. You can get rich photo streams when participants a) have and use digital cameras b) understand and use tag based photosharing services like flickr. In gatherings where participants may have digital cameras, but may not be familiar with flickr, a flickr moderator (someone who can upload people's photos into a conference account) is needed.
Flickr streams have also been used to document informal gatherings in a playful and creative way -- see these examples from N-TEN and Netsquared's Net Tuesday gatherings.
4. Bookmark Streams: The conference organizer also identify and promote a tag that can also be used for bookmarking resources mentioned into a social bookmarking service like del.icio.us or furl. This approached was using during the Games for Change conference and I found it particularly useful because anytime a resource was mentioned, it was captured into del.icio.us and I knew where I could find it.
This is the just a sketch of some different ways to use these new tools to capture and share conference notes at nonprofit gatherings.
- What do you think are some of the evolving best practices and techniques using these tools?
- How do you end up with a good quality "capture" of the information that is meaningful to participants as well as others who were not at the event?
- What is the right amount of "post production" or editing of the material?
- How can you encourage/support new users of these tools to participate in the capturing and sharing?