At most biomedical research conferences, you hear talks filled with published or almost published materials, which is unfortunate, because it's a lost opportunity for colleagues to talk about the problems their confronting with work that's in its early stages.

Some conferences, like the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory conferences, try to get around this problem by having strict confidentiality rules, in an attempt to get scientists to be more open with each other about research that's not quite ready for prime time. The confidentiality policy includes limitations on what reporters can report from these meetings.

Enter science bloggers: what happens when scientists start live-blogging these conferences? Should they be subject to the same rules as reporters? Daniel, over at Genetic Future, recently live-blogged as CSHL conference, and has some excellent comments on this issue - a must-read if you're interested in science blogging:

It would be unfair for conference organisers to hold scientist bloggers to a totally different standard on this issue than mainstream science reporters. I also welcome the move by CSHL to clarify its policies on conference blogging. As the number of scientists engaged in online media continues to grow, it is crucial that meeting attendees be aware in advance of what their responsibilities are regarding communication of results...

It's worth mentioning here that most of the dangers of live-blogging are (in my mind at least) generally over-stated. For instance, the risk of being scooped due to data posted on the web seems rather far-fetched given that most of the potential scoopers are already sitting in the audience watching the presentation. There is a fear that live-blogging distracts people from watching the seminar; I would argue in response that - given the number of people I see programming or working on their grant submission in genomics meetings - we should be grateful that live-bloggers are actually engaging directly with the material being presented.

Go read the whole thing over at Genetic Future.