Liveblogging the Stockholm Conference

On my flight back to San Francisco I reflected on the past few days at the Global Service Design Conference in Stockholm. I’ve always taken notes at conferences but this year I committed to live-blogging the event as a member of the press. That brought a different level of focus. I was essentially listening to speakers, reflecting on their words and synthesizing my response all at the same time. Which is crazy for a two-day conference with dozens of speakers.

The pace of the conference added to the challenge because there were no gaps between presentations for the audience to ask questions (or for me to write). Without that interval I found myself listening to each new speaker for just long enough to grasp their thesis before switching gears to finish my post on the previous presentation, occasionally switching back to the current speaker when a salient quote caught my attention. Twitter was invaluable for this because it crowdsourced the note-taking burden whenever I missed a slide. I continued to switch back and forth between taking notes by hand and wordsmithing on my computer as the post began to take shape.

Once a new draft was finished I submitted it without much editing and then closed my laptop in order to preserve battery power and to devote my attention fully to the person on stage who was normally at the midway point in their presentation by then. I scanned through my notes and started reflecting on the content of the talk while mentally crafting an argument. That forced me to blog mainly from my own perspective without much time for research, which is too bad.

It was a valuable experience but also exhausting and isolating. Every spare minute of the conference was devoted to catching up on my notes or typing a post and even then I found myself blogging the last few presentations of the day from my hotel room. That left little time for the social aspects of the conference since every meal and every coffee break was devoted to blogging or finding a power outlet.

Ultimately the burden of real-time synthesis interfered with my ability to be present at the conference. The alternative would have been to wait and simply blog about it afterwards but in my experience that doesn’t work. I have notebooks full of observations about past conferences in Pittsburgh, Berlin and San Francisco that were taken with the best of intentions but that have never seen the light of day.

By live-blogging the conference I returned from Stockholm with 20 posts to my credit which is some kind of record for me. I’m pleased to hear that people found the recaps valuable and I’m already thinking about ways to accomplish this type of thing more efficiently in the future.

It was nice to dust off the cobwebs here at Design for Service and reconnect with the service design community.

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