Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sharing a link to a tweet may now notify that person, some suggested workarounds

by @JoBrodie, (this is an update of an earlier post)

Recently I was surprised to find a tweet in my notifications page that didn't @-mention me, it got there because the tweeter had included the link of an earlier tweet that I'd sent.

I use desktop Twitter ( and Echofon on iPhone and have only experienced this notification on the desktop version. It seems that others have also been experiencing it for the last few weeks and it may be something that Twitter is rolling out to everyone.

What is it?
If you include in your tweet an address link that looks like this 
then the person whose name is in bold may well hear about it, on their notifications page / tab.

Why is this of interest or concern to anyone?
People have previously used the method of including a tweet's address to draw attention to a tweet's content indirectly without notifying the person. When this is done to point to something that someone's said, covertly, it is sometimes known as subtweeting (the term "subtweeting" covers a range of Twitter behaviours though).

What's changed?
Previously no-one would be notified if this happened, now they will. Of course people have always been able to search your tweets, if they're public, and see what you've written anyway but it wasn't brought to their attention ('surfaced') in quite the same. 

What can be done?
Firstly be aware that sharing tweet URLs now seems to be equivalent to @-mentioning them. Whether or not this is a good way of including people in a conversation or of just annoying them will depend on the circumstances but best to know that they may see it.

Assuming you want to 'subtweet' covertly then the goal is to share the URL without triggering a notification.

Below are suggestions that I think will let you send a tweet without flagging it up. Remember though that if your tweets are public the person you're 'quoting' can always see your tweets (even if you've blocked them) so this isn't a foolproof method to let anyone snark with impunity.

Some methods are a little bit fiddly. To be honest if you want to be that secretive it's probably best to email people! But this post isn't really about the practical, more about the feasible - I'm interested more in the changing ways in which the technology behind Twitter works. 

Sneaky workarounds

1. Take a screenshot
A picture of the link or the tweet won't trigger the notification.

2. Break the address
Twitter treats web addresses (and hashtags) as clickable things - it recognises that a string of words is a web address and automatically turns it blue / underlines it, makes it clickable and makes it point to the relevant address. Just stick some characters in the link to stop this from happening - make sure that the person to whom you're sending the tweet knows how to mend it again (or the link won't work!).

For example^^^.co^^.uk will not be recognised as 

3. Send it by DM
Although Twitter generally doesn't let you send many links via DM it does let tweet links go through fine. (But of course you can actually send any link by DM if you break it, as outlined in 2).

4. Use
This hides the URL and means that it probably doesn't currently trigger the notification (I've tried it and it doesn't, but not tested it to destruction, and Twitter is forever tweaking things). Incidentally you can cloak any URL this way so, for example, if you want to share the link of's page without flagging this up to Widget Co (if they have a Twitter search running on 'widget' they'd come across your tweet) you can use this.

Note that other URL shorteners (bitly,, etc) fail on this front. They won't hide the link for anyone searching, though I don't know if they will or won't trigger the notification.

5. Put the tweet you want to share in a Twitlonger post (but not in the first line).
Twitlonger lets you write more of a blog post than a tweet (you just log in by authorising it to interact with your Twitter account and start writing). It then posts just the first 120 or so of your post and adds a link so that people can click and go and read the post on the Twitlonger site. If you ensure that the link you want to share is placed after 120 or so characters it won't appear in the autoposted tweet and so can't trigger anything.

6. Share the minimum info needed to recreate the tweet
This is potentially risky because you'd have to include the person's name and if they have a search for that they'll see it immediately (whether or not this method triggers a particular 'your link has been mentioned' notification - I've not tried it and I don't think it does but not certain). If you and the person know who you are talking about you only need to share the link's string of digits to recreate the link.

All tweet addresses have the same format: / NAME / status / NUMBER
- if you know the NAME and the NUMBER you can recreate any link from scratch.

For my tweet above you only need JoBrodie and 514147218799222784 to recreate the full link.

Stock photos - I wonder what future 'archaeologists' will make of them

A couple of weeks ago I wondered in a few tweets the following thoughts...
"Is there any academic literature on stock photos? I'm aware of amusing curations (women laughing alone with salad etc) but also curious about the interesting linguistic thingmes it brings up when you search for a word or phrase and it brings up unexpected stuff. I always find myself wondering about any future info-archaeologists and what they might make of how we see things / ourselves, through stock images ;)"
Flickr picture credits: Left: Kidney with 'omnions' by duncan, Middle: kidney medium by Yersinia, Right: Kidney stones by Trevor Blake
Previously, I wrote about this sort of thing in terms of a picture representing an idea (or more literally a word) and how this had sparked some creative fun at work...
"Years ago I helped the then editor of our research magazine (Research Matters, from Diabetes UK) find some illustrative images to go with short summaries of our various bits of research. I remember in particular looking for things that conveyed 'kidneys' to match the section on our kidney research.

There are some standard-issue visual tropes for kidneys, including pictures of actual kidneys (either photographs or drawings, including the urinary system), kidney-shaped metal dishes, kidney beans and even, if you're so minded, steak and kidney pies.

But the concept of kidneys can also be put across by images of clear water - after all the job of the kidneys is to filter and clean blood, and conserve things that the body wants to keep. Even the concept of a fuse might be used in relation to the role the kidneys play in blood pressure and how this can damage them. You might even get away with 'balance' in that our kidneys keep everything in order.

I found that being in the role of someone who picks the pics made me think much more laterally about images in general, which I'm sure is all to the good."
Source: Building the picture pipeline - free images for use in healthcare and medical research #scicomm #nhssm (Sunday, 20 May 2012)
Picking up on the last point there it also crossed my mind that selecting images for an article (and thinking laterally about words, phrases and what the images say) is a teeny, tiny bit like being a film music composer, in the sense that you're 'writing to text' (as opposed to 'writing to picture' as in film) and can choose to use a straightforward image that's clearly aligned to the text (perhaps equivalent of using happy music in a happy scene, or sad music in a sad scene) or selecting something a little more obscure to highlight an aspect of the text that's perhaps not explicit.

Here's a lovely example of a piece of music matching something less obvious in the scene (and perhaps making it more obvious to the audience) -
"One of the classic examples of this kind of [film music] writing is found in David Raksin's score to Force of Evil discussed in some detail in chapter 3. In the final scene the main character, Joe (John Garfield), is seen running in the street, then along a great stone wall and down a huge flight of stairs. Yet the music here is not "running" music -- Raksin has scored the emotional rather than the physical character of the scene. Joe has been running, figuratively, throughout the film; it is only now, as he begins the search for his dead brother's body, that he finds any sort of quietude. Raksin reflects this psychological point in his slow music for this sequence."
Source: Roy A Prendergast The Aesthetics of Film Music (mystery online PDF)
Further reading
I like the genre of reframing of pictures, in the contextual 'caption competition' sense rather than actual frames. Here are a couple of examples I've noticed recently that have amused me.

44 Medieval beasts that cannot even handle it right now Buzzfeed (28 August 2014)

“We’re Fine Here, How Are You?” Normal Moments In Art History Where No One Is About To Get Murdered The Toast (16 June 2014) - features art nudes and so, depending on your workplace, this one might not be safe for work.

Friday, 26 September 2014

I keep seeing our sofa's upholstery fabric on television programmes - it's "Jacobean tapestry fabric"

Here's a picture of our sofa's upholstery fabric.

Over the last few years I've been noticing it in television programmes such as Jeeves and Wooster, Sherlock Holmes (with Jeremy Brett and co) and on Foyle's War. Possibly it's an ITV / Granada / ITV3 thing. I've been trying to find out what it is.
Here's what looks like an extremely similar pattern on a chair that Edward Hardwicke's sitting on (as Dr Watson), episode 'The Priory School'.

It's the same fabric isn't it? 

I have now found out what it's called, from a fabric supplier - "Jacobean Tapestry Fabric, Teastain". I feel I can rest easy now ;)

Illustrative picture showing the full-colour pattern pinched from their website follows... (our version is less colourful)

Here is a clipped bit of an image of some curtains

December 2014 - I also spotted it (below) on a YouTube video of the children's television programme from the early 1980s, The Box of Delights.

August 2015 - just spotted it in a video clip of A room with a view in which the lovely Rupert Graves portrays Freddy Honeychurch, while apparently sitting on one of our chairs ;)

October 2015 - Foyle's War, S2E1, Fifty Ships

November 2015
Spotted it again in Agatha Christie's Marple 'A Murder is Announced' which I am watching now on 22 Nov at 4pm.

February 2016
While watching an episode of the Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: The Boscombe Valley Mystery I spotted that John Watson was making notes while sitting on our sofa's sibling.


Monday, 15 September 2014

For people who work in public health / health & social care and who are also cyclists

Below is an email sent to members of CHAIN (Contact, Help, Advice and Information Network for people working in health and social care which includes NHS but also lots of other things) announcing the creation of a new special interest group for public health folk who are interested in cycling.

If this sounds like your thing contact CHAIN (details below) and see if it is :)

They're also on Twitter - @CHAIN_Network

I discovered CHAIN several years ago through reading an earlier edition of Trisha Greenhalgh's 'How to read a paper' book.

Addition: 16 September 2014
There is a Cycling and Society mailing list on Jiscmail and just this week there was the Cycling & Society annual symposium (#cssncl).

Cycling for Health & Wellbeing - New Special Interest Group launched (target group: public health)

On 4th September, (which was Cycle to Work Day in the UK), we launched a new special interest group focusing on cycling as a means of promoting health and well-being. The aim of the group is to enable those of us who are enthusiastic about the potential of cycling to contribute to health and well-being to share relevant experience, resources and intelligence. It will also create the possibility of members collaborating on projects or bids for funding relevant research.

As a CHAIN member who has indicated your interest in Public Health, you are invited to join the new sub-group. Should you wish to do so, simply reply to this message with the words YES PLEASE.

We are also keen to identify several people who would be willing to contribute their enthusiasm in a small way to the new special interest group. This is not demanding, but would simply involve keeping an eye on the topic and alerting us to relevant developments or opportunities that you come across. We will use this information to circulate targeted messages as appropriate. Anyone interested in the possibility of helping the new special interest group in this way should e-mail: to arrange a phone conversation.

We look forward to welcoming many recipients of this message into the new special interest group, and to supporting a vibrant and hopefully valuable new component within the wider CHAIN network.

Best regards,

The CHAIN Team

PS. By all means share this message with any of your colleagues or students whom you think may be interested. Those who are not already members of CHAIN are welcome to join, and if they contact us at we will send them the appropriate link. Thanks!


CHAIN Manager

CHAIN - Contact, Help, Advice and Information Network – is an online international network for people working in health and social care. For more information on CHAIN and joining the network please visit website:

Follow CHAIN on Twitter: @CHAIN_Network ; Find us on Facebook; Connect with CHAIN on LinkedIn

Sunday, 14 September 2014

How to copy and paste file paths in Mac Finder

by @JoBrodie,

This is how I did it, on my set up. Your set up may vary and you might need to tweak things.

First catch your file path - copy
  • Open Finder and select the folder you're interested in saving stuff to, eg Me/Files/Folder/Subfolder
    - a neat trick I spotted, on doing the below, is that if there's a subsubfolder it it's better to get the file path from that (for some delightful reason the Mac ignores the folder you're currently in and gives you the file path for the one above it, so if you really want the one you're in, go one level down).
  • So go to Me/Files/Folder/Subfolder/subsubfolder and select subsubfolder (or any other file within Subfolder if you don't have a convenient subsubfolder)
  • Command Left-mouse-click will bring up the Options, look for 'Get Info' and click that
  • Copy and paste everything that appears in 'Where', it will have lots of /s in it
Save a file (from another programme) in that location - paste
  • Save your file as Save as and then in the 'Save file as'* window that opens up, click Command+Shift+G - this brings up an option to 'Go to the folder..' - at which point paste your folder's file path in and hit enter.
  • You'll now be either in the folder you want, or no more than one away from it.
  • Good luck.
*I'm saving a Thunderbird message as an .eml file so I've got 'Save Message As' on mine


These are the websites I used to find out how to do this, there are other suggestions in them so if this doesn't work have a look there and hopefully something else will. I found both by typing into Google Finder Mac copy path and Finder Mac paste path
When do I use this?
Since I don't see people regularly complaining about how fiddly this is and since I do these types of keystrokes constantly I have to assume that I'm in a minority so if anyone's wondering "what on earth do you want to do that for?" here's why.

Sometimes I want to save to 'Folder X' a new file that's arrived by email attachment. When I use the 'save as' option on the attached file the saving location the system currently points to may be a different folder (ie whatever I used last).

This doesn't worry me in the least on a PC as it's literally the work of sub-seconds to copy the file path (C:/blah/blah/blah/FolderX) from the File Manager ('Windows Explorer') that I already had open, paste it into the location option in the 'save as' window, hit return and let the new file join its folder-mates successfully.

It doesn't seem to be the work of seconds on a Mac and I've been (a) saving stuff to do in the office on my 'real' computer or (b) bludgeoning my way through it by just double-clicking each sodding folder to get to where I want to save it, while cursing.

I've found the above workaround, it's still not as efficient as Windows (and of course now I have to remember a bunch of new key strokes to do it) but it seems to work.

This is so ridiculously easy on a PC with Windows 7 and is one of only several reasons that my next laptop wil be Windows and not a Mac. Others include the fact that the 'Paint' equivalent seems to be unusable, 'Notepad' is OK but I don't like it very much and the lack of a forward delete key is almost defenestration-worthy. Mildly more fiddly to get a # symbol too. Oh and 'Print Screen' on a PC is a single button click whereas on a Mac you have to click four to capture the screen or window in a format that you can then paste (ie one that has been copied to the clipboard). I think it's only three if you want to save it to the desktop. Possibly the other way round, don't really care, awful ;)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

People on the #dontstopthemusic tag might like these Government reports on music in the UK

From the #dontstopthemusic tag last night it seems that lots of people enjoyed James Rhodes' programme in which he tried to get hold of some musical instruments and support a stronger teaching infrastructure for children in schools. Music teaching appears to be ... somewhat undervalued in some schools and, according to snippets of speeches from a music teachers' conference this problem seems to be fairly systemic. Here's a great post from Mark Robinson's Teach Kids Music blog on 5 Valuable Lessons From James Rhodes’ Don’t Stop The Music. - Two-part documentary in which pianist James Rhodes attempts to give schoolchildren the chance to learn a musical instrument by calling for an 'instrument amnesty' (if you've got old instruments to donate, you can).
Campaign website | Campaign Twitter | James on Twitter
There's a petition "Deliver on the Government’s promise to give EVERY child the opportunity to learn an instrument" and he's playing tonight at The Ambassadors Theatre (7.30pm) in London as part of a tour.

There are a few publications from the GOV.UK website that people might find interesting. If you're looking for their publications go to then scroll to the end for the Publications link, which as I've linked it you could just click of course, then type in your search terms or browse by topic.

Anyway here are some Government reports (bold bits boldened by me):

Music Education in England: a review by Darren Henley for the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Education and Department for Culture, Media & Sport
7 February 2011

Music education in England: the government response to Darren Henley's review
Department for Education and Department for Culture, Media & Sport
7 February 2011

The importance of music: a national plan for music education
Department for Education
25 November 2011- this document is referenced in the petition above.

National curriculum in England: music programmes of study
Department for Education
11 September 2013
- also "Further music resources are available on the TES website. This is free of charge to schools and teachers but they will have to register with the website to use it."

Government spend on school music department instruments since 2009 (FOI release)
Department for Education
19 September 2013
- you can also find other examples of requests made under the Freedom of Information Act at for example a request made to Fife Council about Music Education Cuts

As it happens I was lucky enough to go to a school where music was a big thing, however I'm afraid to say it did nothing for me and I was frankly a bit rubbish at it. Unfortunately I was the not-very-musical daughter of very musical parents. The only instrument I took up voluntarily was the flute but there was compulsory violin and piano and, being reasonably tall, cello (the decision to include me in cello lessons was made by the music teacher turning up to an art class, getting us all to stand up and picking the four tallest in the room). I also managed to get into the choir - the teacher employed a sort of 'exception reporting' system, assuming that all of us were choirable until proven otherwise. Sadly I was able to pick out the middle note from a three-note chord and hold a tune so I got roped into that too.

However as an adult I love listening to it, buying it and going to see it performed live - I don't think my childhood experiences have any impact on that, as I rarely wish I could join in ;)

There's an awful lot of flannel written or spoken about music and the developing brain and I'm wary of an over-reliance on functional MRI (fMRI) and other brain scanning techniques used to propound the idea that learning a musical instrument is great 'because we can see how the brain lights up'.

I'm not wary of fMRI otherwise (just on overextrapolating conclusions) or of the idea that learning a musical instrument is great, it is - though not for me. Here's a post from violinist Eos Chater which talks about a range of personal and social benefits of learning music Ten Lessons for Life through Music Education.

Monday, 1 September 2014

A collection of posts about livetweeting / liveblogging science and other conferences

by @JoBrodie

This is an update and a repost of an older post from 2010, copied in full below with redirect on old one.

EDIT: 8 July 2012 - this post has gone through several revisions and is now more generally about livetweeting events. There's a nod to practical aspects too as well as a little bit on the ethical aspects of livetweeting conferences, which was my original slant. I've attended (live, or virtually via hashtag) numerous medical research conferences and wince whenever anything is a bit overhyped or, as I say below if "unpublished pilot data is reported as more certain than it is."

A companion blog post to this one is Health charity conferences: policy thoughts on liveblogging and there's another one mentioned below, in relation to capturing tweets during and after the conference (see reference 9).

Added 13 March 2017
35. Livetweeting WOW (the festival)
13 March 2017 
Practical tips on pre-event preparation (familiarise yourself with names, pics, bios & Wikipedia, subject, programme) and using Storify to gather tweets and add context. 

I've also written a brief overview and more detailed post on using Storify.

Added 1 March 2015 
34. Let's have a discussion about live-tweeting academic conferences
Green tea and velociraptors (Jon Tennant)
13 November 2014 
"To tweet about someone’s work without their knowledge or permission is disrespectful and unethical. Several people have stated that they consider the default to be ‘tweetable’ – are the authors aware of this? If not, and you haven’t checked, you better show some god damn courtesy in future and not do anything you are not explicitly permitted to do." 

Added 6 October 2014
33. EIGHT tips for using Twitter around health-related events
Health Summit / Inis Communications
Date unknown but seems to coincide with #mHealth13 event
I like (8) Be a Twitter advocate - remind other advocates that they can also tweet from the event.

 Added 1 September 2014
32. Ten simple rules of live tweeting at scientific conferences
PLOS Computational Biology

21 August 2014

10 tweetable (140 chars) rules with advice for science-conference tweeting.

Added 19 January 2014
31. Ten tips for tweeting at conferences
ProfHacker / (Brian Croxall)
6 January 2013

Added 6 April 2013
30. Healthcare social media: the return of #twittergate
Talking about speech and language blog
30 March 2013

29. Out of the ivory tower and into the crowds: how social media has transformed academic conferences
Evidently Cochrane blog
28 March 2013

Added 25 March 2013
28. Thwarting spammers on hashtag livetweeted events
My own blog
22 March 2013 
Type into Twitter's search, or smartphone Twitter apps' search boxes a keystring that tells Twitter to return tweets containing the hashtag but not the spam links, eg
where is the root of the spam addresses (Twitter will ignore and

27. Twitter guidelines for #ukcc21 in 2013
Oxford2013, The Cochrane Collaboration
Date not given but assume March 2013-ish 
Encouragement to tweet at the conference with a useful reminder not to assume everyone following you knows what the hashtag you're tweeting with means, so tell them every now and then.

Added 20 July 2012
26: Using free tools to capture a handful of tweets or a bunch
My own blog
19 July 2012
Bit self-serving I suppose (given that I wrote it) but I have made quite a study of capturing event / hashtagged tweets and I think this is a pretty clear explanation of how to use some of the free tools while acknowledging that there are other paid-for options. 

Added 20 July 2012
25: Gender discrimination at CHI 2012
Oopsohno blog
19 July 2012
Although my collection of posts is now more about some of the technical and social media aspects of running an event its original direction was more about the ethics of sharing (via social media) live comments from speakers at scientific events, in relation to unsettled science particularly in the area of medical health research. Sarah's post covers a different type of ethics - the way that gender  differences can be unwittingly reinforced if we don't watch out for it.

Added 20 July 2012
24: Reflections on events
Mark Braggins' blog
24 June 2012

Themed checklists for different aspects of a conference and unconference events with some good advice and, as the title suggests, reflections on making an event run smoothly for those attending physically and virtually. 

Added; 8 July 2012
23: How to Live-tweet from an Event
Social Media Today
6 July 2012
Very good advice for event tweeting, focusing on the three phases of an event: before, during and after (a lot of people post stuff a few days after an event so if you're trying to capture stuff about said event don't 'shut things down' too soon). Also useful pointers on tools you can use on laptop or smartphone to autotweet the hashtag, eg I use Tweetchat on my laptop - sign in with Twitter and whenever you tweet in that window it automatically appends the hashtag, saving valuable seconds ;)

Added: 29 December 2011
22. a4u expo London Agenda
a4u expo
Date unknown
I came across this because of the MoreNiche affiliate marketing website which I keep a keen eye on (as they're selling a variety of products but are a bit shy about publishing the evidence for them) and spotted that their people go off and speak at events, including this expo. What impressed me about this was the prominence given to hashtags at the event - each session has its own hashtag and the top of the agenda has a banner which explains what a tag is and reminds people to check the session tag for each event they go to. Pretty good.

Added: 4 December 2011
21. How Twitter enhanced my conference experience
Mark Ryan
3 December 2011
Less about blogging at events and more about the social benefits that can arise from Twitter and blogs making it really easy for people who haven't yet met one another in real life to do so. Obviously these tools are helpful in discovering likeminded folk online in the first place.

20. Say Hey to Hashtags and Handles
Susan Sawyer
25 October 2011
Good example of a conference getting everything nicely hooked up with the hashtag, delegates' twitter handles, good communication etc.

I think when I started this blog post back in Feb 2010 I was rather waiting for this sort of thing to become the norm. It probably has in the geekier / science-ier conferences, fingers crossed that this trickles to all the other conferences where delegates might like this sort of thing. Obviously I appreciate that some delegates don't give two hoots about tweeting and blogging etc :)

Added: 10 October 2011
19. Live tweeting an AGM: Lessons from @Campbel2412
28 September 2011
Practical advice for official events tweetists and how best to prepare and parcel up the workload. For example this particular hospital event had speakers whose photos were taken before their speech so that these could be sent out as they started, along with their name and job title. Good points made about linking to stuff on the organisational website (and a reminder to make sure in advance that pages you might want to link to are up to date). Also highlights practical things like being able to point to a page on parking information.

Also it is, as the blog curator has noted, rather well written - very clear. And it's written in precisely the sort of way that managers probably like the look of - what went well, what they'll do differently next time. Good template I should think.

Added: 9 June 2011
18. Wi-Fi checklist for unconference of hack-day organisers
Andy Mabbett aka @pigsonthewing
9 June 2011
How to make your delegates happy - pre-empt the most common conference Wi-Fi problems with this handy checklist. Repeatedly having to log in is no fun at all.

Added: 30 May 2011
17. Science Communication and Public Engagement: What Can Twitter Tell Us?
David Waldock
30 May 2011
Interesting look at the recording of tweets (by Storify in this case) and subsequent analysis of their content by Wordle.

"So, live Tweets, to me, represent the thinking of people as they are in the situation; there is no time to reflect, to consider meaning or to parse it into an alternate interpretation: a live Twitter feed can approximate being inside the mind of people present at an event, and you can bring a range of tools to bear on this record and use it to notice things which might not otherwise have been obvious."

Added: 1 August 2010
16. The Great ASCO Tweetup
Brian McGowan
1 July 2010
Examples of social media, including Twitter, use at a massive (30,000 attendees) cancer conference including guidance on slides from speakers who were happy for their output to be microblogged, and disucssions on setting up some 'best practice' guidelines for organisations. Mention is also made of the real-time tweetstream which might be available as an adjunct during someone's presentation - I am coming round to the idea that this can be more of a distraction than a benefit, although I do quite enjoy seeing them. I like his use of the terms intrasession tweeting (to describe tweeting from within a session), intersession (describing interaction with tweets from another session in some cases leading people to migrate to a seminar with more interesting content) and extrasession tweeting (describing general helpful information, shared via Twitter).

Added: 18 March 2010
15. 10 Ways Social Media Will Transform Events in 2010
Samuel J. Smith
12 January 2010
"Attendees will register for your event if their contacts are attending. In the future, knowing if friends or business associates are attending an event will become part of the attendee’s decision process. Social media tools that check to see if my Linkedin connections, Twitter followers or Facebook friends are attending an event already exist. Over time, I think that we will see more of these tools implemented in events."

14. News from Scientific Meetings
Mark Zweig and Emily DeVoto
Date not listed
Not about liveblogging but general information about news reports of conference presentations - "The current press coverage of scientific meetings may be characterized as 'too much, too soon.' Results are frequently presented to the public as scientifically sound evidence rather than as preliminary findings with still uncertain validity. With some effort on the part of meeting organizers, journalists, and scientists, it will be possible to better serve the public."

13. How and why should conference organisers use Twitter?
Cathy Aronson
30 November 2009
Perspective from a very different field - discussions on intellectual property, tweeting increasing the marketability of a conference and one of the commenters raises the idea that "obscurity is a bigger problem than piracy." That commenter also found benefit in reading back the tweets from his talk so he could see where he'd managed to get his point across, and where not.

12. spectacle at Web2.0 Expo... from my perspective
danah boyd
24 November 2009
Article on a particularly unpleasant experience at a conference where twitter took more of the centre stage than the presenter due to a combination of an unfamiliar set-up, dreadful lighting, fidgety crowd and misunderstandings. Basically, when liveblogging goes bad.

11. Should You Be Tweeting?
Laura Bonetta
30 October 2009
This is an article from the journal Cell - I put this in just to remind myself that not everyone can be bothered with Twitter etc ;)

10. Screencast: my unsuccessful hunt for the official EASD hashtag #EASD09
Andrew Spong
20 September 2009
Conference organisers might as well take the lead on the social media for their conference - deciding on a sensible conference hashtag (and if it's stupid, delegates will create their own ad hoc) and publicising this on conference material beforehand if at all possible - or at least posting a few tweets containing said hashtag, from their official channel. As the post above points out, it also helps with the social aspect of the meeting.

9. What! No event hashtag?
Brian Kelly
20 September 2009
Post considering the practical benefits of having a clear hashag - social aspects (meeting up, particularly at a smaller event) are important but the long term benefit is that any tweets containing hashtags can be aggregated and stored, as a record of the event and the links that were shared.

Edit: 8 July 2012 - since Twitter changed its terms of service in 2010 it's become much more like hard work to collect hashtagged tweets and unless you use a paid-for service, or have coding skills and a server you'll probably have to do it slightly manually.

For more on this have a look at GrabChat or SearchHash for hashtag storage - for watching tweets in real-time, have a look at things like Tweetdeck, Twitterfall and Monitter. Or see my post on this Watching conference tweets in real time - how best? and Following conference hashtag tweets in real time and saving them for later.

8. Amongst The Science Bloggers
Jack of Kent
23 August 2009
A very interesting take from the perspective of a presenter, who read the tweets afterwards. In this particular session attendees were asked not to tweet the substance of the talk because it may have been taken as legal advice (as a lawyer was speaking), this possibly meant that people found other things to tweet about, not all of it helpful.

7. Live-tweeting the World Conference of Science Journalists
Ed Yong
30 June 2009
Really positive post on the benefits of liveblogging a conference; the benefit being for the blogger as well as for any public audience. Ed tweeted from #wcsj (World Conf. Sci Journalists) and found it to be a useful experience for himself. Probably the content of the presentations put this type of conference in a very different category from the Cold Spring Harbor one, but this post provides a record of one person's enjoyment at being involved in this way.

This very much echoes my experience of livetweeting from both Science Online conferences in London, #wcsj and a couple of other science communication things I've been at.

6. All the conference stuff that's not fit to print
Isis the Scientist
17 June 2009
Very interesting post - scientists may prefer a forum in which they can discuss pilot data with their peers without the fear of having some, as one of the commenters puts it, 'blogdouche' tweeting everything. Some of the comments are... quite robust.

5. Creating a "blog-safe" icon for conference presentations: suggestions?
Daniel MacArthur
17 June 2009
Intriguing idea of having some sort of icon on presentations (or abstracts) which indicates that the speakers are happy that their talk can be liveblogged.
Comment 3 is a peach. Comment 5 raises an interesting issue. Comment 13 contains this eloquently brief summary - "Figure out the policy (I'd suggest that bloggers and media follow the same rules and it be the same rule for ALL sessions) state it up front, in the program, on the website and in the registration package. Done. Finished. Put it to rest."

4. To tweet or not to tweet – social media and the scientific meeting
Andrew Maynard
3 June 2009
Sensible consideration of the appropriateness, at different types of conferences, of tweeting or liveblogging. Plenty of comments adding additional perspectives and Ruth Seeley's (comment 1) makes very good points.

For me the take home message from all of these discussions is that it's probably important for conference organisers to at least have had a bit of a think about where they stand on liveblogging - I'd prefer that they weren't too restrictive though (however Commenter 8 disagrees with me). In the context of medical research charities (my perspective is from charities who are members of the AMRC - Association of Medical Research Charities) my concern is - perennially - that unpublished pilot data is reported as more certain than it is.

3. On the challenges of conference blogging
Daniel MacArthur
3 June 2009
Daniel MacArthur's own blog emphasising that he feels Genomeweb's complaint (see #2 below) was a valid one and that conference organisers can't really expect to hold news media and bloggers to different standards. In this case the result was that the conference organisers clarified their policy on liveblogging.

"As the number of scientists engaged in online media continues to grow, it is crucial that meeting attendees be aware in advance of what their responsibilities are regarding communication of results."

There are some really good points in this clearly written post on the wider themes of conference attendees engaging with the presentations - more positives than negatives.

Commenter 3 expresses concern that the CSHL guidelines were unduly restrictive in that they required anyone reporting to gain permission from the speakers (possibly impractical for tweeting purposes). There's perhaps something in the argument that blogged conferences get more publicity...

All other comments are worth reading, some very good points in there.

2. Cold Spring Harbor Wants Scientist Bloggers to Follow Media Rules
Elizabeth Pennisi
2 June 2009
News report from Science (magazine) on Daniel MacArthur's experience of liveblogging from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meeting. The news service Genomeweb was a bit puzzled that journalists had been asked to sign forms restricting what they could report whereas other attendees didn't have this restriction (they're not given a form to sign).

1. Advice for conference organisers
Adam Tinworth
4 April 2007
A plea from a blogger for conference organisers to provide free wifi. The conference organiser replied pointing out that the venue charged £20 for a wifi connection, although in the US the blogger has experienced conferences where each seat has a power socket and free wifi.

I certainly think free or very inexpensive wifi should be available if you want to encourage people to share content about and related to your conference. Possibly the building itself will dictate the number of sockets but no harm in finding out where they are and letting people know. See also #18 above, which has a checklist for conference organisers.

Workaround for manually retweeting (eg comment retweeting) a tweet with a Twitter picture in it

by @JoBrodie

This refers to using Twitter on the website (ie on a browser) and may or may not be relevant to those using third party apps on tablets or phones.

Update 8 March 2015
Oh for asterisks' sake, Twitter's tweaked it again. Using the technique below didn't work for me today (I ended up sending this tweet which has no credit to the person who originally wrote it) so I did the following and it worked instead.
  • Click on the tweet's timestamp to go to the its own page (example)
  • Ctrl+U to bring up the page's sourcecode
  • Ctrl+F to bring up search dialogue box, then type pic.twitter into the box to search for the picture's actual address ( - it will look like a pic in a tweet)
  • Pasted that into a new tweet
  • From the tweet page, copied the text and name of the tweet sender and put it into the new tweet before the pic.twitter address
  • Sent (example)
  • Blogged, grumpily ;)
(Note you can click outside the tweet and it will disappear, but clicking on the 'new tweet' feather / quill icon will bring u a new tweet window with your unsent text in it, so it's fine to toggle among different windows / tabs to collect all the bits you need to send the tweet).

It worked. The below is kept for my prospective historical irritation.

EDIT 5 October 2014
Five weeks on from writing this post Twitter seems to have changed things again. I've seen several tweets referring to a cartoon by UK cartoonist Matt about human rights - the cartoon doesn't automatically appear at all unless I click on the tweet.

I'm leaving the one below as a small version as I'm not sure about the ethics of sharing a full-size version of his cartoon.

The original tweet's address is and when you go there and hover over the picture its (right click / copy) address shows up as but on collecting it it seems to be this

I'm afraid I've really no idea how you'd neatly copy and paste the text of the tweet and the address of the picture, such that the picture would show up in your own tweet, so that you could add a comment and manually retweet it. Can't see a good reason for Twitter to make this difficult, though I can see plenty of reasons.

Remember you can share a link to a tweet (the person may be alerted with a notification when you do) but I've no idea what happens if you share a link to the 'pbs.twimg' link.

Copying and pasting the tweet looks like this. Haha what a mess. Adding a comment to a tweet can be a valuable part of the Twitter ecosystem and I've written previously in praise of manual (comment) retweets.

Here's what it was like five weeks ago when it was still doable, though fiddly.

1. Manually retweeting a tweet containing a pic.twitter link
When Twitter publishes a tweet that contains a pic.twitter-hosted image (not all images are affected, it depends if where it's hosted) it hides the picture's address (URL) and just presents the image within the tweet.

This means that if you want to retweet it and add a comment the method of copying and pasting the text doesn't work, because the text lacks the picture's URL. I just found this out.

This is what the tweet originally looked like...

  ...and here's what I ended up sending out...

...note lack of picture!

What you need to do is go to the original tweet and click on the picture, which will then look like the version below - you can see there's a tweet below it with the full pic.twitter.blah web address, you need to include that in your comment-retweet.  (This isn't necessary for tweets with instagram or similar links because Twitter doesn't automatically display the picture while hiding the URL).

Perhaps Twitter is gradually making it more of an uphill struggle for people to do anything other than press the RT button but I often prefer manual RTs for a variety of very good reasons. 

I don't especially like the ones where someone's just copied and pasted the text then stuck nothing but an "RT" in front of it and have seen other people comment that it's "stealing' the tweet (if that one gets RTed instead of the original you get all the glory). This can be true, however that's probably not the only reason people are doing it. While not forensic it traps a copy of the tweet in case later deleted, it also captures it into your own timeline making it easier to find again in future in your own archive.

But I'd still rather see the tactic done with at least a comment added.

More by me on this topic 
In praise of manual RTs (26 May 2014) 

2. Clicking on some pic.twitter pictures just makes them smaller - a solution
Usually when you click on an online picture it gets bigger, not pic.twitter pictures in tweets though. This has been background-irritatingly me for a while, until I heard of a solution which I've embedded below. Thanks Unity!