Live blogging comes to WordPress

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[UPDATE: Venturebeat reports that a serious bug exists in this plugin. It seems that the developers created the plugin and tested it on a pre-release version of the next version of the WordPress software. My recommendation: don’t use the plugin until you have installed an updated version that has been verified that it corrects the deadly issue(s). Hat tip for the news to Julio Romo.]

If you use the self-hosted WordPress open-source blogging tool and content management system, a new feature has just been launched by its developer, Automattic, that let’s you live-blog an event in real time, using only your blog.

This short video succinctly explains how the new WordPress plugin works:

(If you don’t see the video embedded here, watch it at WordPress.)

Key features:

  • Post updates right from the front-end of your site (no need to use the /wp-admin dashboard).
  • Viewers of your Liveblog get new entries served to them instantly and automatically, without needing to refresh their browser.
  • Your authors can drag-and-drop photos right into the Liveblog area, without needing to navigate to separate browser tabs or windows.
  • There’s no need for a separate site dedicated to liveblogging: every post can be a liveblog, even existing ones.

Automattic says the plugin was developed primarily with its paying WordPress VIP hosted customers in mind, typically large organizations including media companies who pay for enterprise-class hosting services, and who need different guarantees of service and levels or support than, say, a small business or individual blogger.

The plugin is also available to anyone with a self-hosted WordPress blog, as a free plugin you just install. As it’s been open-sourced, it’s also available on Github, the collaborative software development resource and code-hosting service.

I remember when live blogging service CoverItLive launched in 2008. Wow, I thought, a terrific way to to live blog an event, in real time as it happened, using a full range of rich media content: text, audio, video, images, etc, that you can include into each additional text you write. You’d also have a ‘recording’ of your content for access by anyone after your event.

A plugin that let you tweet to your WordPress blog came in 2009. I tried it, thought it was terrific, but it was unreliable and the developer didn’t continue to support it.

A lot more has happened since then, with the advent of many other tools to enable anyone to live blog an event. It’s a role that free tools like Twitter, Tumblr and Storify have fulfilled in many instances, often complementing live-writing and -updating traditional blog posts on the fly – effective, though rather cumbersome and clumsy.

In addition, CoverItLive changed its business model that saw it move to being a wholly-paid service.

I think such an add-on to enhance the functionality and use of WordPress will be warmly welcomed by bloggers, journalists and other writers who like to cover events or do so professionally (thinking of you, Adam Tinworth, especially). Those events don’t necessarily mean big product launches or media happenings: they can just as easily be seminars, workshops and conferences – anywhere that something’s happening that you’d like to get the word out to a wider audience as it happens.

Automattic just disrupted the market.

(Via TNW Apps)

[Later:] Following Andrew Spong’s observation, I’ve edited this post to clarify an important point that the plugin is not for hosted WordPress.com blogs except the paid WordPress VIP service, and for self-hosted WordPress.org blogs. (I get confused with the different WordPress naming sometimes.)

I also came across GigaOM Liveblog, a free plugin “to produce a fully functional, scalable solution that could be used for future events that should be live-blogged.” It doesn’t look comparable to Automattic’s offering, but it might be worth a look as well.

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About the Author:
Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology. Neville is a UK-based communicator, blogger and podcaster. He helps companies use effective communication to achieve their business goals. Visit Neville Hobson's blog: NevilleHobson.com.