I'm Insulted But Should We Give Up Live Blogging?

Nov 14, 2008 • 8:45 am | comments (25) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Conferences Coverage

It is now 8am, I am at my desk, in my office in New York. I landed this morning at about 5:20am in Newark, NJ, after flying all night (the red eye) back from PubCon Vegas 2008. It was an exhausting three days. Between live blogging, keeping up with the forum news, writing at Search Engine Land, speaking on panels, meeting with people and search companies, running my daily business and being married - it is just exhausting.

So, about 30 minutes ago, I notice a Sphinn thread, which links to a blog post (which I won't link to) that totally trashes our live blogging efforts. This guy calls live blogging, "useless" and "inaccurate." He goes on to say what we do is "selfish disregard for reporting integrity." To call live blogging "selfish," oh, that makes me mad. To call the 38+ conferences we've flown to, paid hotel costs, sometimes paid conference passes for, "selfish." To call the dumbing, incredibly tiring and exhausting work it is to sit there, session after session, to write down the words that come out of speakers mouths, no matter if you disagree with them or if you find them boring - or, even worse, love what they are saying, but are too consumed in typing down what they are saying to have the time to actually appreciate the words of wisdom - to call that "selfish" (long sentence, sorry, been up for over 24 hours).

I have often wanted to stop live blogging these conferences. Why? Simply because it is extremely taxing on the individuals who do the live blogging. It seems simple, but it really is not. But I have decided to continue live blogging because most people appreciate it and many tell me they "depend" on it.

So to read a "blogger" who has had a blog since September 30th, 2008 - yea, you got that, completely trash this effort. Well, I am totally disgusted and insulted. Not just for myself, but for all the volunteers who spend their own money and time to make this happen.

I have been on both sides of the coin. I speak and I live blog. It is true that live bloggers might get something wrong or hear it wrong or miss important parts. That is the nature of the game. But does that mean there is no value to it?

Danny Sullivan has often wanted people to stop live blogging and pull out the key elements of the sessions. I agree with that, 100%. But we invented live blogging in this industry, people, I think, expect it of us. If not, then I am more than happy to stop - because honestly, it would be a relief to not have that burden of responsibility. To not have to get up at 4am on a conference day to make sure to get all my work done prior to the sessions, so I can be at a session at 9am to live blog it for people who cannot make it to the session. So I would love to not have that burden.

Hence, I leave it up to you. Please take the poll below and tell me if you want us to stop live blogging:

I am sorry for taking this a bit personally. But when you put so much into something and have even one individual rip it out of you, it hurts. Trust me, this is not the first person to say comments like this, nor are these the only complaints about live blogging we get. Overall, I think people really appreciate it, but again, let's leave it up to the poll. I will then make a decision later.

Yes, we have live blogged about 38 conferences, actually more, just not all were categorized. Here they are:

  1. Search Engine Strategies 2003 Chicago
  2. Search Engine Strategies 2004 Chicago
  3. Search Engine Strategies 2004 London
  4. Search Engine Strategies 2004 New York
  5. Search Engine Strategies 2004 San Jose
  6. Search Engine Strategies 2004 Sweden
  7. Search Engine Strategies 2005 Chicago
  8. Search Engine Strategies 2005 New York
  9. Search Engine Strategies 2005 San Jose
  10. Search Engine Strategies 2005 Toronto
  11. Search Engine Strategies 2006 Chicago
  12. Search Engine Strategies 2006 China
  13. Search Engine Strategies 2006 Latino
  14. Search Engine Strategies 2006 New York
  15. Search Engine Strategies 2006 San Jose
  16. Search Engine Strategies 2006 Toronto
  17. Search Engine Strategies 2007 Chicago
  18. Search Engine Strategies 2007 Latino
  19. Search Engine Strategies 2007 London
  20. Search Engine Strategies 2007 Munich
  21. Search Engine Strategies 2007 New York
  22. Search Engine Strategies 2007 San Jose
  23. Search Engine Strategies 2007 Toronto
  24. Search Engine Strategies 2008 New York
  25. Search Engine Strategies 2008 San Jose
  26. Search Marketing Expo 2007 New York
  27. Search Marketing Expo 2007 Seattle
  28. Search Marketing Expo 2008 East
  29. Search Marketing Expo 2008 Seattle
  30. Search Marketing Expo 2008 West
  31. SphinnCon Israel 2008
  32. WebmasterWorld 2004 Las Vegas
  33. WebmasterWorld 2005 Las Vegas
  34. WebmasterWorld 2005 New Orleans
  35. WebmasterWorld 2006 Las Vegas
  36. WebmasterWorld PubCon 2007 Las Vegas
  37. WebmasterWorld PubCon 2008 Las Vegas

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

Previous story: Ditched GoogleBot But Now Want To Make Friends Again?


Saad Kamal

11/14/2008 04:08 pm

Barry - I have been a loyal reader of SER and other Search blogs that covers conference. I think 2006 Toronto was my first that I followed and since then I have been following all the live blogged posts. In fact I really anticipate for these posts to show up during the conference time (because fortunately or unfortunately I don't reside in US). So my vote is "NO", you should Never give up live blogging. Continue doing it because your readers demands it :) And lastly please don't take some 'careless' comment personally and give up something that you are really good at.

Kim Krause Berg

11/14/2008 04:44 pm

As one of your live blogging team, I know first-hand its a thank-less job. I know first hand the stress, money, time, dedication and commitment it takes. There's no question live blogging can be adapted and morphed into perfection, but then someone would need to actually PAY live bloggers for that. And nobody wants to that :)

Michael Martinez

11/14/2008 06:48 pm

Keep live blogging. Screw anyone who complains. I thank all you live bloggers for your contributions.


11/14/2008 10:35 pm

Barry, Keep it up, your live blogging is invaluable and many in the search industry appreciate your efforts hugely. Ignore whoever wrote the piece, they are talking utter crap. I was at PubCon and blogged parts of the sessions back and I have no idea how you manage to capture every bit of information with so much detail. So actually I respect it more because it's not an easy job. Shame I didn't get to meet you at PubCon at somepoint, but please keep up the great work.

alexander alaric

11/14/2008 10:54 pm

I believe live blogging has its place and should continue. When you don't know something to be a fact then note as such on your post. Simple.


11/15/2008 02:34 am

Barry, please do not stop.

Navneet Kaushal

11/15/2008 05:59 am

Barry, I can feel your pain. Your blog is one of the best when it comes to live blogging or for that matter search engine news. You been blogging for so long (as long as I can remember) Never give up buddy. We still read and mention your blog regularly!

Ophir Cohen

11/15/2008 06:28 am

Barry, These types of things are similar to having lunch outside and a fly just eeps picking on my food. Well I sometimes get upset, I sometime crush the fly (ain't that cool) but usually I just keep eating - especially if the food is good and I'm hungry. Well if my weird analogy is not clear, just keep doing what you do so well, these types will come and go, but you will get to your destination, just don't lose your faith, your way (and your temper) :-) OC


11/15/2008 03:00 pm

Definitely do not give up the live blogging. It is very much appreciated by more than you know, and the job that your crew and Lisa Barone did is A++!

Linnet Woods

11/15/2008 03:29 pm

Isn't it funny how 100 people can pay one a compliment and one thinks they are just being kind but it only takes a single criticism to cause total self-doubt? Keep on live blogging - you can't please everyone - just most of us!


11/15/2008 03:45 pm

What I most hate of the Internet is the thing that one person can make more noise than 1000 followers... Try to get the big picture, the people is with you, and ALWAYS there will be a guy making noise against you... From Spain, thank you very much for all the great efforts that your are making everiday for US. Diego.


11/15/2008 05:20 pm

I could understand how angry and sad you were. But don't please give up the live blogging. It is very useful because it's physically hard for me to attend a conference such as Pubcon and SMX as I live in Japan. Your live bloging is surely helpful to a lot of readers.


11/15/2008 11:12 pm

Barry, Your live blogging is what interested me in going to conferences in the first place. I think it is a very inclusive thing to do. Please continue the live blog tradition from conferences and your encouragement of other live-bloggers.

Todd Mintz

11/16/2008 02:36 am

Sure, it's an insult...but consider the source...the person who wrote the post has gotten way more attention than he deserves. You all do a wonderful service for the community ...I think you know this and I think you know how most of us really appreciate it, so you shouldn't let a random newbie get your goat.


11/16/2008 07:57 am

Why do you care what some random guy writes?


11/17/2008 11:32 am

Really appreciate all the effort that goes into the live blog coverage, which has been really helpful to me over the years. What's really selfish is some newbie blogger trying to undermine the hard toil of others in a post which seems to serve no purpose for him other than to attract links in a most unpleasant manner.


11/17/2008 12:58 pm

Frankly, if I'm not there I really don't need a live stream of it. In fact, I don't possibly have time to follow live blogging of a conference I don't have time to attend. What I want is to know if there was anything useful I missed - so I'm happy to wait for post-conference summaries that are analytical and well-thought out. Having said that, it's easy enough to just not read the live blogging posts. I don't get why it's an either or proposition. Whether you live blog or not is your decision and should pretty much be based upon whether you think it's worthwhile for your conference experience for your blog.

Bas van den Beld

11/17/2008 03:33 pm

Giving up live blogging is ridicolous. I see it as the difference between a live report of a sports game or a report on the highlights of that very same game. If you only do the highlights you have more time to reflect, but you miss out on the character of it all. Live blogging (I've done my share) can be hard and yes, sometimes you miss things, but it gives those who are not there a good feeling off what their missing out on. I'll go for the both: live blogging and providing a summary off the highlights later on.


11/17/2008 04:06 pm

Don't give up on live blogging. While I don't believe the information is worth the money charged by the conferences, there are definitely useful nuggets of information in the sessions and it's great to be able to read them. Keep up the great work!


11/17/2008 05:01 pm

Ignore the troll and keep live blogging. You and your crew do a top-notch job and provide a huge service to those of us that can't make it to many conferences. We depend on your coverage of these events. Keep up the good work.


11/17/2008 07:00 pm

Ruud's comment about "having thicker skin"...any blogs that I read have interesting content and a writer who has emotion=personality. Whether the emotion is funny, dramatic, anger, etc...thick skin makes a writer boring. As much as people say "don't take it personally", I always do. Great ideas are written when people get under your skin!


11/17/2008 07:26 pm

There are clearly a number of people that truly do appreciate your live blogging efforts, Barry. Don't let it get you down. Based on the comments and results of your poll, far more people want you to keep live blogging than want you to stop.

Bill Hartzer

11/17/2008 08:29 pm

Keep up the live blogging. As someone who cannot always get to all of the conferences, it's very helpful to hear what goes on. I'm totally behind you all the way. Live blogging is definitely here to stay.

Tom Slage

11/21/2008 03:21 pm

Barry, I agree to a large degree with Atom McCree, who posted a while ago. Your commitment is incredible and the SEO community definitely appreciates it. However, I rarely am there waiting on your live blogging efforts to come through. Honestly, since I respect your opinion and insight, I would rather like to see you distill the sessions and provide your insights on the sessions the next day. This would take quite a load off your shoulders and it would provide more concise coverage of these conferences.

Gab Goldenberg

11/30/2008 11:49 pm

I voted yes, because I've seen how much it takes out of you. Leave it up to the other folks who are there, and enjoy the conferences man - you've earned it!

blog comments powered by Disqus