Why being "on the ground" with social media matters.

This might be a tad controversial. Bloggers avert your eyes.

Live blogging while PCM is "on the ground" involes very little typing of more than 140 characters at a time. The transcription and live typing disturbs me slightly and seems to be emerging from congenitally non dyslexic unfortunates. We do not live in a world of text. I'm not saying it doesn't have a place but stenographers are experts in this field and reporters need to at least listen to the speaker before forming a critical opinion. Conference channeling though a blogger, plugged in to a laptop is all kinds of wrong.

I've delivered a talk commisioned by Sylwia Presley of nfpVoice and Oxford Girl Geek Diners twice now called Beyond Text. How blogging can be more than text. Below are the rough notes. The first time this was delivered over Skype so I had the opportunity of a cue sheet. "Beyond Text" will feature in my next set of PCM Master Classes.


Developing a practice of media making for the social web and making sense of the miltitude of ambient streams is a craft. You can't say for certain how anyone percieves a conversation stream or who is watching a tagged stream. It's not just about volume and clarity as with aural listening but also interperative there is no intonation apart from punctuation, no emotional tones. The only certainty is the sound of your own voice heard by you.

I am not a writer, a journalist or reporter. Text is not my primary social medium. If I'm honest textual content of not my strongest suit. This doesn't hinder me however as I am a curator, an aggregator and connector my strengths come to the fore when media is habitually generated. It's Glimpses, responses, snapshots and moments a remote audience want to see. The ambient content, the buzz delegates conjur, the excitement and inspiration that explodes from the conference hall, from the session rooms, from the break-out spaces. 

To capture the habitual and the ambient you need to prepare the net. Even with a butterfly net you still need to know where the butterflies will be. Its also a good idea to know what spicies you intend to showcase. My stategy outline template is Plan, Prepare, Capture, Review, Report. The set up is invaluable.

Blogging is a reflective medium. Text documents action. Real time action demands snapshots, streams and conversation. The experience 'on the ground' is what you pay for, to BE there. The role of an event blogger or online media curator is to host the digital divide to provide an experience of comparable interest. 

I was asked recently to "come and blog" and "can you blog live on our website". I can't report on an event before it's taken place or even as it's taking place. If it is purely a archival process to kill two birds with one stone it has a role but to engage social media specialists the conversation is key before, during and after an event. 

What this blog post is trying to say is that social media for events, especially with a PCM "on the ground" team should be intergrated in to your over all planning infastructure. I've plotted an interweaving social media support structure and would love to share it in all it's glory. But then you wouldn't need me! I am going to use it a a tool of help event organisers. You'll have to wait just a litttle while.


SXSW from the UK - digital stalking!

Wow, where do I start? My co-colaborator and epic media maker @PhilCampbell is at SXSW (south by southwest) I am here in the UK going about my day to day at PCM creative. SXSW is the world stage conference for technology and more specifically the interactivity with technology. Twitter made centre stage in 2006 to become a global phenomenon. After listening to SCVNGR's Seth Priebatsch keynote introducing me to his concepts of 'the social layer' and 'the game layer' of the Internet's interactive evolution my SXSW engagement has been valuable even if its been from afar. Pepsico have been live streaming a selection of the keynotes and panel sessions through out the conference.

Not attending has had its plus points believe it or not. You may be aware of my event and online network curation activity. Essentially it is about focusing web activity and filtering relevant and interesting content to a location where it can be engaged with. More importantly it is the potential to provide a point of engagement with others who are accessing the online experience. Media only becomes social when it is sharable and the audience tangible. Gathering around a collection of media so people can reach out and exchange views, opinions and comments in real time is the legacy of web 2.0. Well that's what I think anyway.

SXSW has generated a Tsunami of Twitter activity. I have wrestled with my conscience about using the term Tsunami in the light of recent events in Japan and I intend no detriment to the tragedy that is unfolding which is truly incomprehensible but its the over riding and overwhelming visual cascade of chatter I have witnessed. As a social media practitioner specialising in filtering activity for an online audience being one step removed has meant I can consider the best way to syphon and distill a coherent media stream in order to interact with the event taking place in real time.

Mixed in the unfiltered stream is captured visual and audio media, observations, location announcements from individuals and shout outs for imminent happenings, local facility recommendations, event back-channels where teams or groups communicate and stay in touch with a collective using social mediums. It's a noisy information highway.

So how do you make sense of the stream of consciencness that spews from an event like SXSW? Writing down my processes I find hard. I visualise and filter. I am determined to share my discovering. If I can't blog what I do how can I get people to engage me to do this for future events.

I am compiling a collection point, an active and constantly updating noticeboard. Anyone can access it and consume. The lagacy of web 2.0 is the social, the conversation it is this element I strive to facilitate to provide, an entry point to experience for those who are unable to attend in person.