The definition of what it means to cover a trade show has changed radically in the last 5 years. This occurred me while "tweeting" and "Facebooking" my way through the 2012 AHR Expo in Chicago.

The 2012 AHR Expo ended less than 24 hours ago, but I have had a little time to reflect on what was reportedly the biggest show ever.

It certainly kept me and the rest of the Snips staff busy, with booth visits, seminars and especially this year, shooting videos.

Flying home last night, it occurred to my how different reporting on the AHR Expo is today compared with just five years ago. It used to be that you would have to wait several weeks to find out what had happened at the show if you weren't there, at least from our perspective. But since 2007, we have added blogs like this that permit readers to find out editors' thoughts on events while the events are still under way. And a couple years ago, the surge of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter meant that editors could publish news updates and even pictures within minutes instead of days, weeks or even hours.

As I ran from booth to booth, sometimes with a video camera and microphone, other times typing out 140-character "tweets" on my cell phone, I could not believe how different covering a trade show is these days.

This is all good news for Snips readers, presuming you have an Internet connection or a smartphone. If you do, then you could have found out what Snips editors were up to this week in real time, or see product pictures taken on the AHR Expo show floor minutes after we took them.

  As we get ready to celebrate our 80th anniversary at Snips, we still love and support our print magazine. But there's so much more to us. In coming weeks, you will see videos taken at some of the AHR Expo exhibitors' booths. In the meanwhile, be sure to look at the show pictures already on our Facebook page and read show news from us and other expo attendees posted through Twitter. (Hint: search for tweets with "#ahrexpo" as the keyword -- be sure to include the hash tag or pound symbol).