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Friday, October 8, 2010

Tools for covering live events

If you are a blogger who wants to cover breaking news or sport events live, Cover It Live gives you a very nice tool to do so. If you want to see an example, do surf over to Live coverage: Dr. Porntip at Teoh Beng Hock inquest which although already a past event, but you can still read about the sequences of happenings. (Dr. Porntip Rojanasunand is the famous forensic doctor who helped identify the dead bodies in the huge tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake)

All you need to do is to sign up for an account at, sign in and get the script, then paste it into the post editor in the Edit HTML mode, publish and you are all set to cover live any event you want. For an update on CoverItLive, refer to their recent email.

CoverItLive has many advantages over what many now uses to cover events live, namely Twitter which I will discuss later. In the meantime, you can get some ideas over at Tempero: Using Twitter for Live events

Other tools you can use to cover events live is Twitter. However, unlike CoverItLive which archive your live coverage so even after the live event has past, visitors can still browse through all the happenings as it had been covered. Twitter however does not archive your tweets for long and whatever new tweets get published, they will overide the old tweets.

In any case I have done a test to explore possibilities over at Testing Tweetizen's Twitter embed code. More later.

Email from McSpurren, President of CoverItLive:


It has been a tremendously busy year for us at CoveritLive. I wanted to thank all of you for playing a big part in that success and give you an update on some new features and thoughts on our software:

It's still 100% free for smaller users: In late 2007, I literally had to beg anyone to even give CoveritLive a try... and not many people did. Certainly not our big media brands (who I love very much), who now view our software as mission critical. I will never forget that it took five, then ten, then fifty people to sign up and create live events with our buggy software for audiences existing of a small handful of people. So thank you to,, @krochmal, @truzenzuzex and the hundreds of others who took a chance early. Because of our early adopters, we'll keep the software growing and free for the people who write for the passion of it.

180 million minutes of readership in September: Our customers who have been with us for a long time (relatively speaking) understand that it's not just about a page that updates's about reader engagement over a longer period of time. We run over 500 events each day and readers stay online for an average of 12 minutes during a live event. We also know that those 'heavy users' of your content stay online for more than 45 minutes (if your event were one hour in length). In short, this data point tells us (and you) that your live events are working well and becoming the 'must have' we all hoped for.

Instant scalability is the most important feature: We have spent a tremendous amount of effort and money to put a world class infrastructure in place. It is complete and utter garbage for a software company to just say the word, "cloud" as proof of their ability to scale and provide real time redundancy. We have recently completed our largest upgrade again to make full use of Akamai's RMA (rich media accelerator) with two independent web farms and two (yes two) cloud based backup systems as well. Things that took 350ms in the Amazon cloud are down to 5ms now, no matter where you are in the world. It has been vetted by the IT departments from some of our largest customers and we welcome anyone to do their diligence in this area. One interesting anecdote on this point: if you visit you'll see our new Ticker sitting in the middle of their homepage. Every day, 24/7. They expect us to take scale and redundancy very seriously.

NEW Ticker: It sounds simple but it's one of the best customer ideas we've ever turned into a feature. The Ticker does everything a normal event does except: You build it once... and leave it on forever. Many of you build new events each day (which is fine by the way) for the same purpose. Think about using a Ticker instead. There's a convenient 'clear' button if you want to start fresh each day. The CBC and Sky News are already using it to collect tweets and instantly display breaking news and analysis, and their readers now know exactly where to go for interactive content. We even combined the new Ticker with our new 'Auto-Publish' API to create a permanent feed of Flickr photos here in our Support Center (note the cool Custom Skin for that window as well):

NEW APIs for advertising, SMS or anything else: For a long time, we've had the XML feed to get your content OUT of your events into any format you like. But in the spring we added an API to pull in content from ANY source into the reader comment moderation panel (you're welcome MTV and BBC). The BBC used this recently to pull in text messages from readers to give suggestions during their, "Control Katy Perry" event (it was awesome by the way). To enhance it even more, we launched the 'Auto-Publish' API (you're welcome Le Monde) which can pull in content from ANY source and instantly publish it directly into your event (like we are doing in that Ticker example with Flickr photos). Beyond the creative possibilities this opens up, feel free to attach a repository of advertising or sponsorship banners. Imagine setting it to publish an ad every 10 minutes directly into your event (or across all of your events if you are an Enterprise customer).

What's next? Although we love developing features, we need to protect the ease of use that our product is known for. Many of you have 'one-off' Panelists participating in events, and the last thing we want to do is put a bunch of buttons in their face. That said, this fall you'll see a decent upgrade to our iPhone App as well as the rollout of a Blackberry and Android App. For those of you with iPads running's already awesome as is thanks to the full Safari browser. But the biggest new feature set is something we have never done before and kept fairly secret. I'd really like to keep it under wraps for a little while longer but it involves giving your readers MANY more reasons to join you online and stick around for a long, long time.

I'll hopefully have a great announcement on this before the end of November. Until then, thank you again for your support and feedback. Please send any thoughts you have to and if you want to reach me personally, or follow us (well, me really) on Twitter @coveritlive.

Keith McSpurren

President, CoveritLive


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