I lost my live blogging virginity yesterday.
A lovely sunny day, in the park with friends, it just seemed like the right time.

I was covering ‘The Jomec Derby’ a sporting showdown between the Jomec Allstars (current Diploma students), CJS Old Boys (the alumni) and Staff FC (the staff).
I haven’t written about sport since I penned a match report in primary school so I figured I’d tried something new.

I used The Scribble Live website as recommended by Hannah Waldram.
This site provides users with a pretty power application and integrates most of the features you’d hope for (although if anyone can recommend an alternative please let me know).
I was using the 28-day trial version so some of the features were limited but I was still able to do the following:

  • Create and share an event: sounds basic but the simple interface and template function made it very easy to add your event and then get it out there using a built in URL reducer.
  • Add guest writers: I think one of the most exciting aspect of live blogging is the social component and the possibility of getting a real plurality of voices. This was made easy through the email function and Iphone App.
  • Get comments: Scribble Live provides an address to which readers can email their comments. This is great to get a dialogue going with your audience who can, in theory, shape your coverage in real-time.
  • Use my mobile: well… I should have been able to. If you have an Iphone the app makes it really easy. But for those who have primitive devices it’s a little harder. You should be able to set up text updates (like on twitter) however my activation code never came through. Fortunately I was able to…
  • Source from Twitter: this is one of the best things about Scribble Live. You can add five twitter accounts, the posts from which will be automatically added to the blog. You can also (although I failed to take advantage of this) set up an auto post query, which can be used to draw in content via a hashtag. The twitter integration improves both the social aspect of live blogging as well as boosting your hit count.
  • Add other Media: I originally assumed live blogging meant only text – which would take away from the power of a blog – however Scribble Live allows you to add videos and pictures. You can also integrate your Flickr and photos posted to twitter via Yfrog or Twitpic come up automatically (if you’ve set up the function mentioned above).  Youtube integration wouldn’t go amiss although perhaps there’s an issue with content ownership?

Having set this all up I lugged my laptop down to Pontcanna Fields and took my place on the touchline (with the WAGs and David English). This is where I encountered my first obstacle: A total lack of WiFi.

It was wishful thinking that the field would be within the University’s network coverage. Fortunately I’d prepared for this obstacle and, even though I wasn’t able to text directly to Scribble Live, I was able to text content to my twitter account which I’d set up to feed into the blog.

And I had phone signal… Or at least I thought I had phone signal. I was, once again, betrayed by my handset, which gave the illusion it was sending the messages I thrashed out during the furious first game (Jomec Allstars trumped the CJS old boys 2-0).

It wasn’t till I was walking back to the bar to have a between game Internet session, when my phone started buzzing uncontrollably, that I realised it was only sending the texts now. Around 20 posts went out. 5 minutes after the game had finished. Live blogging disaster.

Thankfully Neil Pooran was on hand to save the day. With his far superior technology – Iphone on a 3G network – Neil was able to document a dramatic second match, a seven goal spectacular with a gutting own goal from Will Bain.

So how would I rate my live blogging experience? Was it everything I’d hoped it would be? It was certainly fun. You get quite a thrill from reporting something in real time. The format itself isn’t suited to all journalism but it’s great for sport and I can see how it could be used well in politics.

But I’m a big believer in giving yourself some ‘thinking space’. Stepping back from a situation and working out what you’re going to say before you write it. Also on a practical level you have a chance to properly check the spelling and grammar. This is more difficult on a live blog, especially if you’re getting caught up in the heat of the moment and are using a phone with stiff buttons and terrible predictive text. Which leads to strange sentences such as:

“Lovely through call from thor”

and

“Allstars vs old boys starts with a brutal table from joe blogs”

Which is great for someone who’s already espoused the importance of accuracy. But all in all it was an enjoyable experience… we should definitely do it again sometime.

Perhaps the Varsity match between Cardiff and City? I feel the format would be perfect for catching the heated dialogue between the two sides. Who’s up for it? From City? Drop me a line and together we can document your devastating defeat.

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