A New Backchannel For Live Events: The Brightkite Wall

Sarah Perez November 19th, 2008


Whenever there is a conference or event, there’s a secondary bit of action taking place behind the scenes: the backchannel. Here, the attendees are live blogging, twittering, posting photos, and streaming live video about what they’re seeing on stage or in and around the venue. Twitter has always been the microblogging platform of choice in this scenario, but starting today, they just might have new competition from Brightkite, the mobile social networking service that’s making a name for itself among the early adopters.Last night, Brightkite released a new feature for their mobile social networking platform called the “Brightkite Wall.” This wall displays the live stream of notes, photos, and checkins at any one place. When launched full screen, the Brightkite Wall’s placestream can be shown on any monitor, projector, or TV, which obviously makes it perfect for conferences and events.

Using the Wall

To get started, simply browse to the desired place and click the new Wall tab. Then click on the embedded Brightkite Wall to go full screen. Organizers can even customize the Wall beforehand, if desired. The message and location name can be modified, the shortcode can be selected for use within the U.S. or outside the U.S., and checkins can be turned on or off.

Of course, Brightkite has a much smaller user base than Twitter, which could have made this new feature a non-starter. However, Brightkite has that problem covered. With the Brightkite Wall, anyone can participate by texting a pre-defined shortcode provided for you by the service.


Better Than Live Blogging?

Brightkite’s Wall may soon beat Twitter to become the microblogging platform of choice for live events because it offers a much richer stream of information. Instead of just displaying 140-character notes, Brightkite’s Wall also displays photos. Combined with notes and checkins, this makes the Wall a much more engaging experience.

For those virtually attending the event, watching the Brightkite Wall could end up being even better than refreshing a blogger’s post featuring their “live” coverage of the event. A live blog only gives you one point of view and set of images. Even if it’s a group effort, it’s not the same as being immediately tapped into the thoughts and reactions of all the event’s attendees as you are with Brightkite.

Potential Problems

Our only concern for this new feature is that it doesn’t appear to be any sort of administrative control over who can configure what. If some rogue conference attendee wanted to, he or she could highjack the Wall by customizing their own personalized greeting for all to see. That could lead to problems, especially if the message was profane or offensive.


Another concern is that there doesn’t seem to be any sort of archiving system in place, so while the Wall may be a great real-time view into the thoughts and activities that are taking place at a particular point in time, going back to view older images and notes could be a challenge if the same locale (address) is used over and over again for subsequent events.

The Wall feature is still in beta, though, so as people begin to use it and submit feedback, it may be updated to even better reflect people’s needs than it does now.