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

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hashtag) numerous medical research conferences and wince whenever anything is a bit overhyped or, as I say below if "unpublished pilot data is reported as more certain than it is."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.

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