Note taking at tech conferences is passé

Going to almost any conference today you’ll see a sea of netbooks, iPads, smart phones, and laptops- all furiously being typed on. Some are answering e-mails, some are taking private notes- but, there is a whole “back channel” going on- a conversation/archive of the conference in 140 characters or less. You can contribute, follow along, or put down your pencil or digital device- and just relax and take it in- counting on the smart people in the room to write it all down for you- so you can go harvest the fruits of their labors in the evening.

Typically, all the tweets are using a #hashtag to mark their tweets as belonging to your conference. Use one of the tips from the following link- I’ll include my two favorites at the end, and you can be a hero. Just remember- do it nightly- because twitter is shortening the life of tweet archives as the service becomes more popular:

Did you know that your tweets have an expiration date on them? While they never really disappear from your own Twitter stream, they become unsearchable in only a matter of days. At first, Twitter held onto your tweets for around a month, but as the service grew more popular, this “date limit” has dramatically shortened. According to Twitter’s search documentation, the current date limit on the search index is “around 1.5 weeks but is dynamic and subject to shrink as the number of tweets per day continues to grow.”What that means is something tweeted prior to a week and a half ago can never be retrieved via That’s bad for users and it’s definitely bad for data-mining. Unless Twitter corrects this issue on its own, we have to find another solution for archiving tweets ourselves. Here are 10 ways to do so.

via 10 Ways to Archive Your Tweets.

The first two services from the above post are my preferred choices from his options, the third seems to do a really nice job too:

  • The archivist – looks slick, and comes in a desktop (windows only ;( version) or web based. It doesn’t have the ability to go back more than 500 tweets- so, if it’s a big conference- you might want to start it at lunch or sooner. It continues to update as time goes on.
  • Twapper Keeper– which isn’t as pretty a site- but gives a lot more control in what you archive.
  • What the Hashtag– it’s descriptive tags are sometimes out of date- but it does a nice job.

What do you do with your archive? You can edit out the duplicitous retweets- and the invariable stupidity “I love the presenters boots” that some people insist on spewing- and then turn it into your boss- or, you could brand a PDF and send it out with your analysis and thought leading positions as an extra bonus – networking tool. What could be more useful after a conference than a great piece of documentation? Throw in links to all the slidedecks, links to speakers- and you are a superhero.

Unfortunately, I tried to use Twitter search last night- and save the HTML pages- a deadly slow and painful process for – where I spoke yesterday. I have all the tweets- in a pretty sloppy format- had I searched for “Archive tweets” instead of “Save Tweets” or “Search tweets” – I’d be looking like a superhero myself. I hope this helps you- at your next conference. It certainly will be a part of any conference I plan or speak at from here on out.

And if you need a speaker about “How to moderate comments like a ninja” or how to build a website that works for you- easily- feel free to contact me.

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