How To: LIVE-Blog or Tweet From A Global Event/Conference!

Whiles in Johannesburg, South Africa; Live-blogging from the “Sub-Saharan Africa Freedom of Expression & Internet Workshop”; a colleague whom I’ve known for a long time, joined twitter not long ago and I’m sorry to say; not too ICT-inclined sent me a message on Facebook asking;

What are those stuffs you keep saying on Twitter? What is RT? Where do you get your links from? Do you have any special protocols that you use? Is this very difficult to do? How exactly do you go about LIVE-blogging from global events? I’m sorry to bother but I really want to become like you. Thanks.


@MacJordan & @dotKwame Live-blogging from #TEDxYI

This isn’t the first time, I’ve received such a message; therefore I took it upon myself to write a post covering: LIVE-Blogging from Events/Conference and Workshops/Seminars.

CEO & Founder of Web4Africa; David Ajao once said;

“It looks like; Twitter was specially made for him (Mac-Jordan) because; the speed with which he tweet/update is just too awesome.

I won’t call myself a PRO in this New Media field yet as I’m still learning from my mentors (Erik Hersman, Jillian C. York & Ethan Zuckerman). I’m just very passionate for anything new media that helps in information dissemination in real time. Below are some ideas that should get you started to LIVE-blog from any event or workshop you find yourself.

Pre-Event Preparations

  • Get Accreditation / Press Pass: In recent times, more PR & Media companies are beginning to treat and recognize bloggers & social media activists as “New Media Press”. If your intention is to cover the event for your online audience; be sure to emphasize your reach, influence and network effect.
  • Wi-Fi/Cell Coverage: Be very sure to check on the presence of Wi-Fi at the venue. Ask whether the venue has either free Wi-Fi or strong cell reception. Make necessary provision for internet modems from any of the Telcos in case there is no Wi-Fi or internet connectivity.
  • Confirm The Hashtag: As opposed to creating your own, ask the conference organizers if there is an official Hashtag e.g. (#MFA10Maker Faire Africa 10; #BCGhana Barcamp Ghana; #FC_Org – Future Challenges Org; #GVOGlobal Voices Online) for the event. If they don’t understand the words coming out of your mouth and think a “hashtag” is some sort of drug label, feel free to get creative.
  • Configure Your Applications: Whether you intend to use your laptop or smart phone, please be sure to pre-program your tools (such as TweetDeck, HootSuite or Twitterrific) with the appropriate hashtag.
  • Bring Your Charger & Power Plug(s): I know this one is painful and it’s happened to me more than once. (I traveled to  Casablanca, Morocco on the invitation of a friend to attend & share my views on New Media & Development in Africa; & I totally forgot my chargers. That is not happening ever again). Do not forget your charger(s). Make sure, you bring all of your gadget chargers from laptop; Digi-cam & smart-phone.

Live At The Event/Conference

The keynote is about to begin and it’s time to get to work. The Chair of the event is ready! What’s the best way to cover the event?

  • Be A Back-Log Flower: Like it or not, most traditional conference attendees will think you’re being extremely rude by clicking away during the presentation. Shy away from the front tables and instead choose a spot toward the back of the room. You’re more likely to find power plugs and won’t disturb those around you.
  • Set The Stage: Just like BBC/CNN, your followers may tune in to your Twitter stream at various points throughout the day. Level set with a tweet or two every few hours that describes the event’s purpose, location and name. e.g. (Tweeting LIVE from Bar-Camp Ghana in Accra. Follow us for more with the hashtag: #BCGhana)
  • Share Live Photos: There are various photo sharing apps on the micro-blogging platform these days. Take a snap of the conference whiles in section and attendees; share it on Twitter via either Twitpic, yFrog or Plixi
  • Use Attribution: If someone says something interesting, either use “– per [name]“, actual quotation marks and/or a reference to their firm. If you don’t explicitly state the source, your followers will be confused and may take the statement out of context.
  • Follow Others: Check the hashtag with some level of frequency to determine if anyone else in the room is covering the event as well. This is a good way to connect in real life and potentially divide and conquer across simultaneous tracks.
  • Perpetuate The Conversation: Although this can be difficult, watch for those statements that triggered interest among your followers. To the extent possible, reply to their comments, re-tweets and thoughts during breaks or the sessions themselves.

Post-Event Wrap Up

The curtain drops and another event is in the can. Now it’s time to head home and make sense of it all. What’s next?

  • Measure Your Success: Use sites such as What the Hashtag?! to find some amazing statistics on the event, including the number of tweets, contributors, tweets per day, re-tweets and the like. This helps to justify your impact the next time you ask for a free conference pass.
  • Blog Content: For the past three events I covered, nearly every cogent thought and worthwhile nugget was tweeted. Upon my return I used tools like Twitter search to revisit the hashtag driven-content as source material for my blog posts.
  • Thank Your Hosts: If you want to be invited back, but sure to tip your hat to the hosting organization. This is another no-brainer that I have seen my new media colleagues neglect time and time again.
  • Thank Your Followers: Also thank those who participated in the conversation and helped get the message out. Remember that without them you wouldn’t be there at all.

If you follow these simple rules I’m confident that conference organizers, your fellow attendees and online followers will be pleased with the results.

Did I forget anything? I’m very sure; there are other wonderful ideas with LIVE-blogging from conferences/events; please share your tips and tricks and let’s keep the conversation going.

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African Ingenuity at Maker Faire Africa 10

Over 500 Inventors, Makers, Designers & Artists from all over Africa especially, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa &

Cyrus Kabiru displaying his glass-less glasses at MFA10

Burundi convened at the fore-court of the University of Nairobi, Kenya for the 2-day African ingenuity event which actually showed case a cross section of latest and most creative innovations in Africa and by Africans.

MFA10 was in its 2nd year and was organized by volunteers that included Erik Hersman (AfriGadget) together with TED Africa producer Emeka Okafor, Mark Grimes from, Jennifer Wolfe, Henry Barnor of GhanaThink and social designer, Emer Beamer of Butterfly Works.

The idea behind the event is to create a platform that showcases the ingenuity in the informal sector or what is called Africa’s second economy. There’s a great phrase to describe this in Kenya where this sector is called the “jua kali”. A Swahili term for “hot sun”, this phrase refers to those people who sit in the sun on the side of the road making goods for sale.

The event, whose main sponsors included General Electric, Google, Twaweza, Mozilla, and Engineering for Change, aims to promote African ingenuity, technology & development.

According to Emeka Okafor – Event Curator at MFA10;

“We’re excited to be coming together with Kenyans to celebrate the signing of their new constitution… The fair is free and open to the public on both Friday and Saturday; 27th – 28th from 10am to 6pm and inventions will be demonstrated and put to work.”

“There is a huge need for more local manufacturing in Africa. If you take Kenya as an example, the economy is beginning to improve, and a lot of this is driven by technology and big business such mobile operators, ISPs and technology companies. But underpinning almost every single African economy is this ‘jua kali’ sector, the informal manufacturing base that makes it work. There’s definitely more need for platforms that showcase the innovation that happens in this sector,” says Erik Hersman.

There were a lot of inventions, products made from simple materials and a whole lot at the fair. Among the designers and makers that really intrigued I and other inventors at the fair were;

Robert Mburu; a physics teach living in Nairobi was the winner of GE’s Best Innovative Inventions Award at MFA10. His security system links cameras, televisions, alarm systems and mobile phones. This idea came about when his television set got stolen and he decided to use very simple tools to design a security system.

For his prize, he’s meeting General Electric’s Chief Scientist at the John F. Welch Technology Centre in Bangalore, India where he’ll get the opportunity to explore and develop on his invention. According to Deo Onyango, GE Commercial Director for East Africa;

“Mburu’s idea was a cut above the rest and also is in line with GE’s business initiative, eco-migration which promotes being environmentally considerate and producing products that are environmentally friendly without compromising the bottom line.”

Another Maker; Cyrus Kabiru, a Kenyan artist based at the Kuona Trust in Nairobi makes unique sunglasses from recycled material. Each pair of glasses is made only once; each one has its own name and story behind it, and they are each sold for a relatively inexpensive Ksh. 5000 ($60). “According to Cyrus, his work has been the glass with no “glass” made with found object is an idea he developed a couple of years ago. Also, his father never liked wearing “real glasses” therefore his desire to make something of this nature was born.”

One artisan/desinger whose work really fascinated me was Chika U. Okafor from Nigeria. He designed a prototype “Hawker Back-to-School Bag” that transforms into a foldable carrier bag to aid hawkers (street sellers). This way, they can ply their trade with ease and thus avail them the opportunity to educate themselves, train and retrain themselves to further empower themselves for present and future semi-skilled and skilled job opportunities.

Match-A-Maker; a project aimed at connecting Makers/Inventors offering solutions all over the world was made available online at the fair since it was introduced at the first MFA in Ghana last year. NairoBits and BLOC Kenya were the organization behind designing a website/blog for the makers, introducing them to social media’s positive effect on their inventions and also aiding them on whatever way they could technically.

In my opinion, this year’s event was a huge success. Congrats to the organizers for putting up such an interesting event. Hopefully, next year we shall be meeting again for Maker Faire Africa 11 somewhere in Africa.