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Lessons Learned from Live-Blogging VisWeek 2008

VisWeek 2008 was an interesting set of conferences again. The live-blog is now archived, and here are a few thoughts on blogging a conference. I had a long summary written up, but it was mostly redundant with the live-blog, so it makes more sense to go there. I will write up further things at greater length over the next few weeks.

This was my first experiment with live-blogging, and it was quite interesting. I knew that Twitter's 140-character limit would be too little, but the postings grew a bit longer than I had originally expected. The Microblog box took up most of the visible frontpage, when it was really meant to only fill the top half on most screens. The postings were still fairly superficial, more pointers than descriptions of what the papers were really about.

The posting frequency reflected my level of interest and fatigue: I tend to need a break after three days of conference, which is why postings got sparse on Wednesday. It was also sometimes a challenge to write about the previous paper while listening to the next presentation, and I ended up only talking about one or two per session because of that. There were also some longer sessions that I attended (a workshop and a tutorial) during which I did not post anything.

Writing while listening also didn't give me any time to review and reflect what I was writing. While that may be the way a lot of blogs work, it's certainly not my preferred way of writing (and this is not a blog, after all 😉. I had to go back and correct typos and other mistakes a few times.

I only wrote about what was presented at the conference, I did not read the papers. The presentation certainly makes some things look more exciting than they really are, and may even hurt good work. Hadley commented on one entry that he was not excited about a paper I liked, and I've been contacted about another posting I made where I said that I found a paper less than exciting. Putting out my personal impressions opens the door for criticism, and also corrections.

One last thing I'm going to say about this is how easy it was to build the infrastructure for the live-blog using Drupal's Content Construction Kit and Views. I spent the most time tweaking the design of the box and display of the messages and feed. Setting up the new posting type etc. was really easy once I had figured out how to use Views.

If you missed the conference, you can re-live the drama and excitement in the VisWeek 2008 Liveblog Archive. Also, check out Carlos Scheidegger's visualization, etc. and Alark Joshi's Visualization Blog for more coverage.

Posted by Robert Kosara on October 27, 2008.