Yeah, so what if I live-tweet at conferences?

I’ve been at Future Of Web Design
The last two days were long, but fantastic, experiences at Future Of Web Design. The talks were high quality, loads of cool people were there and I learnt a lot.
Problem is, (from some people’s point of view) I tweeted…

I’ve been at Future Of Web Design

The last two days were long, but fantastic, experiences at Future Of Web Design. The talks were high quality, loads of cool people were there and I learnt a lot.

Problem is, (from some people’s point of view) I tweeted a lot. I’m not going to stop, but I thought I should explain why live tweeting isn’t just “trying to make yourself look clever by tweeting everything you hear.” (Got that from a hilariously passive aggressive tweet that wasn’t directed at me.)

Taking conference notes

First off, there’s the selfish factor. I’m a serial note-taker. Some people learn by doing, some people learn by watching, I’m one of those people who mostly learns by writing it down. No idea why, it just goes in and gets stuck that way.

But why on Twitter?

I used to write pages of notes, but I’d rarely read them again, and nobody else could make use of them.

Not everybody can afford to go to conferences. As a freelancer, I certainly can’t afford to go to many (and I couldn’t have gone to FOWD without the awesome kindness of Scott Coello giving me his spare ticket..)

Since I started the occasional live tweet passing comment on points in talks around two years ago, I started getting a few people saying they liked keeping up with the main themes of the conference despite not being there, and asking if I was going to live tweet the next events. I love the idea of helping people out like this, it’s not cool missing out on fantastic ideas and knowledge.

Trust me, I am paying attention

The bizarrest tweets I’ve seen are those saying live-tweeters can’t be paying attention. How?! You’ve got to pay attention to be able to tweet. Today I managed to live-tweet a talk and be the most active member of the crowd in talking to the speaker at the same time…I’m spend my life constantly multitasking with technology, why would a conference be any different?

I’m not trying to look clever, or cool, or show off

Anybody that’s knows me well knows I don’t really care about being clever, coolness isn’t really my thing and I care more about people thinking I’m a nice person than anything else.

I don’t really think live-tweeting makes me look anything. Maybe noisy…yeah, noisy.

See, I wouldn’t just do it if it was annoying everybody

I can totally accept that some people don’t like tweets from conferences. To be honest, if most of my followers complained then I probably wouldn’t do it (reluctant as I am to be a slave to Twitter followers, ’cause that’s what the unfollow button is there for, right?) but I get so many more saying they find it handy.

I’m not keen on making followers grumpy but I’d much rather make some followers happy.

I try not to tweet everything

I’m only using a phone and I don’t have lightning fingers so I couldn’t possibly tweet everything that comes out of a speaker’s mouth. I try to pick the most interesting, vital to the theme of the talk, and (most importantly) points I understand. I’ll almost always put my own angle on it, as it’s how I interpret it, and to fit it into 140 characters!

I try as hard as possible to keep the tweets in context

It can be hard keeping in context. I’m in that environment, fully immersed, it can be tricky to distance yourself. I haven’t really had any complaints about them being confusing, but I guess people are more likely to ignore the tweets than complain that they’re nonsense.

It’s really just a conference in bitesize

I find it really useful when I’m writing up conference blog posts to go back through these chunks to remind what the talks were all about. At New Adventures, and now for FOWD, I check out ubelly’s tweets as well. Between us, I reckon we’ve got the live-tweeting covered!

But what if you hate the live tweets but you like me the rest of the time?

Get a decent desktop/iPhone Twitter app, such as Echofon, and use the mute user or mute hashtag feature. It’s a cool temporary way to hide me, conference tweets, and any other occasionally irritating tweeters, without going through the hassle/potentially embarrassing unfollow/refollow process.

And if all else fails…just unfollow me!

I don’t use Twitter directly to please other people. If you’re not keen on me then chances are we won’t get along! Whilst I might be sensitive if a real friend unfollows, I understand that my particular brand of babbling nonsense isn’t for everybody.

And to be honest, not using any unfollow trackers or paying too much attention to follower figures, I’ll probably never know…


  1. Nic Presley
    Thought your live tweets were great! Really useful info –; thanks. [Enjoyed this blog post too!]
  2. Jeff K
    Not many web related conferences in my area, so reading your live tweets is the closest I can get to being there.
  3. I would like to know how many people have decided to go to a conference through reading about it on twitter. Keep doing what you do, if 1 person enjoys then that is all that matters. Thanks for the mention by the way :-)

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