Sunday, July 08, 2007

Liveblogging a nice idea but beyond me: at the Festival of Ideas

The 'blogging the festival of ideas' experiment is having all kinds of interesting effects including, it seems, people who were previously unfamiliar with blogging now sticking a toe in the water and coming here -- and presumably also to Gary Sauer-Thompson's Public Opinion and Tim Dunlop's Blogocracy -- to read. While few are leaving comments, the stats counter is through the roof, with all of the extra readers coming directly from links at the Festival website or at Tim's and Gary's and most of them staying on here for quite a long time.

Of the three of us, only Gary has tirelessly kept up his terrific almost-on-the-spot reporting, complete with some great photos (also at Junk For Code); Tim plans to post reports on the festival through the coming week, which strikes me as eminently sensible but which, if I do it, will put me hopelessly behind with work.

I've just been working on a very long and still not finished post on the 'Digital Ink: the future of journalism' session, which took place nearly two days ago now. Part of the problem is of course that one does not want to miss most of the sessions because one is too busy blogging. There is also the question of having a life: seeing one's mates, changing the cat litter, checking up on one's Aged Parent and making sure there are clean socks.

But my biggest problem, and I'm formulating it as I go along because this is the first chance I've had to think about it, has been the one of trying to blog in such a way as to highlight the differences between blogging and hard-copy reportage, for otherwise why do it at all? Ironically, though we all argue (usually correctly) that instantaneousness is of the bloggy essence, I'm finding that at the moment the Adelaide Advertiser is ahead of me in this time race.

Here's the reason: unlike a newspaper article, a blog post is as long as a piece of string. I want to do the sessions some real justice in a permanent record -- far more than would ever be done to them in the mainstream media -- and that means detailed reportage and some half-decently digested reflections on what was said and on the implications of what was said. This has left me with some very long paragraphs in an unfinished piece on the Digital Ink session, and I have yet to catch up with posts on two sessions from yesterday before I get in there this afternoon and hurl myself back into the cattle-car crowds in the hall foyers.

For the usually celestial Adders weather is at the moment highly changeable and intermittently vicious, and yesterday there were some nasty, dangerous crowd moments as people pushed up the stairs at the Elder Hall entrance, desperate to get shelter from the icy bullets pelting down out of the sky. They pushed to get in while the previous audience pushed to get out, and a number of fragile folk suffered: squashed in the rush, poked in the eye by a rogue umbrella, or suffocated by the pungent smell of wet wool. For a minute I almost thought I was back at the Melbourne Writers' Festival.


lucy tartan said...

Liveblogging, yes it's hard. Perhaps because of how very hard it is I'm increasingly championing the idea that the Long Tail means very tardy commentary will still have some sort of value for somebody.

Something sort of related that I've been meaning to ask you about: as a blogger now, do you find yourself more willing than before to do things for free?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Excellent question. Complicated answer. Might be a whole post.

ThirdCat said...

PC, I've been thinking about this post a lot, but the thing I thought when I first read it, is the thing I'm still thinking.

Does it matter if you do write about it retrospectively? Even months later? I mean, wouldn't there also be value in you reflecting on things after the ideas festival is over.

I've been thinking about this in a purely South Australian way, because I reckon there's a real limitation with the way we are becoming so festival/event focussed. It is best exemplified by the arts (and I'm not saying we shouldn't have festivals, only that for individual artists in the state the festival-based culture provides limits), but is spilling over into the way we think more generally.

For example, the Thinkers in Residence programme. Once they're gone, there seems so little discussed about their work. The discussions are probably still going on, but for the general public at least, not in any sustained way. I am so interested in quite a bit of what Charles Landry had to say, but where are the on-going discussions?

So I guess what I'm saying is, I reckon it doesn't matter if you didn't say everything you wanted to say at the time. One of the benefits of blogging is not just that it can be live, but that it is a great forum for on-going and sustained debate.

Do you think I take things too seriously?