Week notes: Collaborative note taking and video highlights

Collaborative note-taking at Encampment London, and highlights from this week's conference video releases.

Encampment London

Last Saturday, Nat and I headed to The Innovation Warehouse above Smithfield meat market for Encampment London, a one day unconference for event organisers.

I'm a big fan of the unconference format, where the attendees put together the schedule during the event and everyone is encouraged to give a talk or participate in some way. I spent a bit of time during the day making sure Lanyrd's online schedule matched the grid, and subscribed to the event schedule iCal feed on my iPhone so I didn't have to return to the board to see what was happening next.

We also experimented with collaborative note taking using Google Docs. Having multiple people in a room collaborating on the same document makes it easy to not just capture detailed notes on what they say, but also to bring in additional research (hunting down links to sites the presenter mentions, for example) to further enhance the document.

My first experience with collaborative note taking at a conference was the Future of Web Apps Summit back in 2006, using SubEthaEdit on the Mac. Google Docs makes an excellent web-based replacement.

Christian Heilmann's Encampment session on Recording and publishing talks on a shoestring was particularly relevant to our goals for Lanyrd, and included some very smart tips. Chris records the audio from his talks directly on his Mac using Audacity during his presentations, then publishes the MP3 (under a Creative Commons license) to the Internet Archive's free audio hosting service. He did this for his talk at Encampment, which you can listen to on our session page.

This week in conference video

While Christian's technique works great for events that don't have professional video recording, it's exciting to see increasing numbers of conferences publish session videos after (or sometimes even during) the event. The open source community is particularly good at this, and this week had some great examples.

DrupalCon London took place last week in Croydon, with 150 speakers presenting 115 sessions. The video team there live-streamed the keynotes, and published videos of other talks within hours using blip.tv - a very impressive turnaround.

The WordPress community run an impressive number of WordCamp events, in countries all around the world. Last weekend was WordCamp San Francisco, the original and largest WordCamp event. Videos from that event have started showing up on WordPress.tv, which also hosts videos from many other WordCamps. WordPress.tv is one of the supported providers for Lanyrd's embedded video functionality.

The Python world had a big conference this week as well: PyCon AU, in Sydney Australia - again, with plenty of published video. I enjoyed watching Malcolm Tredinnick's take on BDD the other day while doing the dishes.

This week's other big conference (at least by Lanyrd activity) was UX Week 2011, also in San Francisco. Videos from that will probably become available quite shortly, and judging by the quality of last year's videos they should be a real treat.

In the office

We started work on a big new project this week, codenamed Project Hamster. This time, we're taking a different approach from our normal "build it and see what happens" strategy. Nat put together detailed paper prototypes of the new functionality, which she then used for direct usability tests on any passer-by she could get her hands on. We've had some excellent feedback which has further informed the design - we'll share photos of the paper prototypes after the launch.


Time 11:35pm

Date 28th August 2011


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