07 July 2015

Live-Tweeting Presentations and Lectures

Live-tweeting presentations is getting more and more prevalent. By and large I think it's a good thing: people who can't attend a given session or paper can learn about the key points made and look for published work from the presenter if they want to know more.

From a personal point of view, live-tweeting helps me follow a talk better. When I'm thinking in terms of conveying important points from a lecture in 140-character blurbs -- including attribution and hashtags -- I have to pay very careful attention in order to be tweet responsibly. Also, when other people are tweeting the same lecture, they often tweet points that I've passed over, so the record of the presentation is enriched by the presence of several tweeters.

That said, I'd like to propose some guidelines for responsible and effective live-tweeting.

1. Use the published conference hashtag plus a session number hashtag so that people can find and follow your tweets.

2. In your first tweet of a paper, identify the presenter by full name and provide the title or the topic of the talk. If you know the presenter or the information is provided, use the twitter handle.

3. In subsequent tweets, always attribute. People following your tweets need to know who is saying what, including in discussion at the end of a session. If you don't know a questioner's name, you can attribute a tweet to "question" or "comment" so it's clear it's not a statement made by one of the panelists. But attribute additional comments from the panelists. (When I live-tweet, I type the last name followed by the hashtags into the first tweet and then copy them so that I can paste them into subsequent tweets, saving typing time.)

4. If you don't agree with the paper, or you don't think the information is well presented, don't tweet. No one needs a paper trash-tweeted, whether a nervous graduate student or a senior scholar. Disagree privately in discussion at the end of the session, or contact the presenter directly. If you're going to disagree publicly, do it respectfully, after taking time to think over your position with respect to what you've heard.

5. If you are presenting and don't want your paper live-tweeted, or photographs tweeted of slides you're presenting, tell the session chair, who should then announce your reservations to the audience. If you enter a session late, it's probably best to refrain from live-tweeting a paper in progress, in case you've missed such an announcement -- or in case you've missed contextual information from the start of the paper that affects comprehension and interpretation.

Update:

6. If you are asked not to tweet, or not to tweet point-by-point, or not to tweet photos, don't do it. Be respectful of your colleagues.

Please let me know what you think.