Liveblogging from ScienceOnline…

The ‘Adventures in Blogging’ session has taken a rather surreal turn – we’re in the dark, being told to imagine we’re liveblogging from a submarine. Complete with shaken chairs, attacks from cuddly angler fish, and… sea shanties. I haven’t been on many submarines, but I somehow think that last one is unrealistic.
I’d love to liveblog from the field for real, but I’ve never really worked out how you can do it when you’re in places, like Namibia, say, where there is no real internet access. Perhaps this session will illuminate me. One of the panellists has managed it from the Congo, though…
I’m certainly getting a few ideas for how it might be do-able. It would certainly be nice to not have my blog fall completely silent when I’m doing all the cool bits of my job. Do you think people would be interested in some field live-blogging?

Categories: bloggery, conferences

Comments (19)

  1. BrianR says:

    Seems like some sort of satellite link would be necessary for connectivity in truly remote places … like being able to simply talk into a satellite phone and then some fancy-schmancy speech recognition system back in the office posts it online. Tell someone there to develop that.

  2. I think people would definitely be into it, if the technical details could be worked out.

  3. I blogged a sea shanty once…
    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/02/captain-ahab-er-myers-and-whale.html
    More seriously, I found that my blog was virtually silent while I was overseas, even though there was very good internet access; it was the time, not the access, that was the limiting factor. The “fancy-shmancy speech recognition” BrianR suggests would work… or barring that, the low-tech solution of… a friend on the other end of the satellite phone.

  4. I would be into it but I am afraid the limiting factor is indeed time. We all know how busy the time in the field can be with simple more important things to do. Personally, I would love to be able to upload videos from field work but they would require even more time I assume.

  5. BrianR says:

    Exactly … time is the issue … field work can be mentally and physically draining. I barely have the energy to read at the end of a field day, much less try and write. So, being able to recount the day by simply talking for five minutes or so would be super cool.

  6. Chris Rowan says:

    One of the things that came up that interested me is that is might be possible to set it up so you can create a twitter-like feed which also allows you to upload photos (and maybe other media) and then post quick snippets using your mobile (or satellite??) phone. Although being able to quasi-podcast is another interesting approach…
    It is true that time is the issue – both whilst you’re out there, and afterwards (I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve meant to write up a field trip, but never quite got around to it)

  7. Anon says:

    Reminds me of the old days of newspaper reporting, with reporters rushing to phones to call in their stories to writers at the other end of the line. If there were any money in it, which I doubt, I would love to be on either end of that–a (relatively) brief phone call would be all it might take, and a trusted writer on the other end.

  8. Silver Fox says:

    If you are in range with an internet-capable phone, you can take pictures with the phone, and send them with text via email (to Blogger at least). I did that once or twice. The photos aren’t great – they need more resolution, which would require a faster connection. And the typing by phone seems very slow to me. So I pretty much gave that up except maybe for quick draft type ideas.

  9. Kevin Z says:

    Chris, great to have you at the session and enjoyed interacting with you all weekend!
    You know how you can set up an email “blog-in”? An address you can send to that automatically posts to the blog when you click send. I think might be option from a cell phone, send a text to that email address. I think this is what Silver Fox is talking about.
    Another thing I thought about later was being ablt to call in an audio blog. You would have to link a phone number with a digital recorder hooked up to a computer that is online. Call the number, leave your message, when you hang up it signals to save the file and publish it to as a blog post. There is no reason it couldn’t be done technologically. Maybe it already exists?

  10. Propter Doc says:

    Blogger allows you to email posts in for publication, to a really top secret email address that you set up. I use it sometimes when I’m ‘in the field’ (which is my office of course).
    Field blogging could also be a useful way of sorting your data, initial impressions and photos into a chronological account of the trip.

  11. I’ve been toying with the idea of having a private blog that only my supervisor and I can access. It would be a neat way of keeping him updated on what I am doing where. The problem why I didn’t tell him that idea, yet, is the time issue mentioned in another thread here on Highly Allochthonous. Field work usually drains me a lot both mentally and physically and I am glad when I manage to still transfer my points from the field slip into the clean map. Having to regularly post blog entries is often beyond me then. It would be a nice way to sort it all chronologically.

  12. Chris Rowan says:

    Well, that would be the plus of the microblogging idea – short sentences rather than crafted prose, you could just send in thoughts and observations (and photos) as they came to you. Of course, being able to just auto-podcast a 5 minute summary of the day, whilst you’re just chilling out at the end of the day, would be damned useful (I try to do this in my field notebooks anyway, but just having to speak rather than write does appeal for the reasons of time and tiredness referred to above). Whether that would be fit for public consumption is, of course, another matter.

  13. BrianR says:

    The satellite phone method, if it worked, would get quite expensive and probably only be good for very well-funded field excursions.
    But, maybe recording a few minutes of thoughts each night on a digital recorder — and then put it into a computing machine that converts voice to text — and then when you have connectivity again, upload the updates. It wouldn’t be ‘real time’ this way … but is another option.

  14. Silver Fox says:

    Wow! I didn’t know sat phones were that expensive – I guess I only thought about the emergency type, where minimal messages for help are sent.
    LostGeo – consider carefully what you set up with your advisor and whether he is okay with not having everyday contact. Sometimes a requirement like that can get to be burdensome.

  15. Yep, sat phones are very expensive. In my Internship in South America we only used them in urgent cases. Otherwise we would prefer to drive 1 hour to a publich phone or Internet Cafe.
    SF, no worries. The current agreement is that I call once every week or two and it works just fine. I was just toying with the idea. Didn’t and won’t implement it for obvious reasons.

  16. Coturnix says:

    More I think about it, more I feel that the way to go for strange places and field work is audio – just dictating your thoughts. Then, depending on the place, sending those files somewhere, somehow, so they end up online immediately or with a delay. Perhaps with a help from someone who is sitting in an office in the industrial world.
    Photos, of course, are important for conveying the excitement of strange places as well. But long written blog posts may have to wait until return home.

  17. Kevin Zelnio says:

    You can make a nice story with just the audio and overlaying photos over it to make a video or storyboard. Low quality audio files can be fairly small and easier to transfer. You could also set an answering machine or voicemail box to record into. Later you can download it via the phone’s headphone jack into the computer (i.e. play it back and record in real time), edit, add photos from the day and you have yourself a nice simple podcast.

  18. Eric says:

    I have a service with voicemailbox that email’s an mp3 of the message to an email I specify… just route that to your wordpress/MT/blogger posting address. As long at you are equipped with a phone/phone service.

  19. Karen James says:

    Complete with shaken chairs, attacks from cuddly angler fish, and… sea shanties. I haven’t been on many submarines, but I somehow think that last one is unrealistic.
    Clearly you haven’t been on a submarine with Kevin.
    Thanks for posting your live-blog of the session (gold star!) and starting this really useful thread. I’m delighted to see our session continuing in the blogosphere like this.