Category Archives: True North Media + Olympics

during Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, wrangled a social media accreditation program and citizen media clearinghouse for indie/alt media to of all backgrounds, to IOC and RCMP’s great interest

Hello VANOC, We’re nice, local, and invite you for a coffee and a talk – Open Letter #2

You're *so* tough.

Hello VANOC et al,

I am following up on the Open Letter to VANOC from Social Media Makers with a few notes as well as an invitation to continue the conversation with VANOC over a tasty beverage. The letter has made its way around the world with Twitters, comments, blog posts, and personal notes of support and/or confusion coming in from many corners of the globe.

So, to keep the conversation rolling, here are my annotated notes, thoughts and recaps from the past few days of opinions rolling in:

First off, Jeff Lee, the Olympic reporter from the Vancouver Sun explored the changing media landscape in an excellent article and an accompanying blog post. He talked to several interesting people and brought a veteran mainstream media eye to the conundrums in “Changes coming to media’s coverage of Olympics – But new forms of news delivery are restricted by Olympic committee rules“. He keys right in on the crux of the tension – money vs.choice.

“As traditional news organizations struggle with declining readership and cutting staff while trying to capture greater online presence, the Olympics is undergoing its own transformation. The change is also affecting broadcasters, who like the others, have not yet figured out how to fully monetize their Internet properties.

The traditional forms of media coverage — exclusive territorial contracts with broadcasters, appointment of news wire agencies by the IOC and press credentials parcelled out by national Olympic committees — are coming under pressure as people change the way they get their news.”

His article also brought an insider’s point of view from the head of the (enormous) newswire AP who raised the same questions we are within the inner-sanctum of the IOC:

“In an address to the press commission, Tom Curley, the chief executive of Associated Press, warned that the lines between traditional news delivery models are blurring. Newspapers want to use streaming video, but are restricted because the IOC licenses broadcasters for field-of-play images. Audio broadcasts are similarly restricted. According to those who were at the meeting, Curley’s address stunned many members.”

Mr. Lee (who is olympicreporter on Twitter) also published extended notes and thoughts in a blog post titled “Social networking media push for inclusion in Olympic plan” (accessed via Internet Archive Wayback Machine).

His blog post provides a full quote from Renee Smith-Valade, VANOC spokesperson, who took time on a Sunday to follow-up to Lee’s inquiry thusly:

“The IOC is the ultimate arbiter on the representation on the Press Commission, and each country’s National Olympic Committee determines which media get accredited for the Games. As the Organizing Committee we can and will encourage both entities to recognize and facilitate the immense growth of online media, however ultimately decisions for press commission membership and Games accreditation lie with them. We have not yet responded to the open letter from the social media group but will do so in the coming days.”

My colleagues and I are encouraged that VANOC has a reply in mind. While its unlikely that we would have been accredited going through the IOC and national press associations channels, we firmly contend we have value to offer by being engaged in the dialogue. We also have first-hand experiences to share about creative solutions (including non-accredited media centers) and strategies to embrace the social media makers without compromising the relationships rights-holders, corporate sponsors and the like.

Gastown Photowalk Crew
Gastown Photowalk Crew by Kris Krug

This quest isn’t just “for us” – we are starting the conversation for the thousands of people who are coming to participate in the Games as “amateur” reporters, photographers, podcasters, videographers, etc. and will eagerly post their content to audiences of maybe dozens, maybe millions of viewers. Individually, the coverage is very niche, and that micro-coverage is a big part of the appeal. Further, the collective content produced by “all of us” will likely rival the mainstream media output.

Mr. Lee’s article includes remarks from Yahoo Sports which articulates how quickly media is changing:

“However, change has already started. This summer, Yahoo Sports — which doesn’t have a print or TV broadcast property — sent 19 journalists and “analysts” to the 2008 Beijing Games. It had only one reporter at each of the 2004 and 2006 Olympics. Dave Morgan, executive editor of Yahoo Sports, said the investment paid off: more than 32 million “unique visitors” went to Yahoo’s Beijing Olympics microsite in August, outstripping even NBC’s online Olympic traffic.”

Photo by Boris MannSo how does VANOC let the enthusiastic and experienced amateurs cover the Games while not opening up a box of problems? For starters, we look to the Piemonte Non-accredited Media Centre in Turin as a good example as it helped the alternative and independent press understand IOC guidelines, provided press releases and updates, and in-formal collaborative workspace and office resources. The funding came from tourism boards, local press agencies, sponsors (especially from the hospitality industry) and resulted in richer “long tail” coverage of the Games and the region.

For my colleagues who were in Turin (I was covering from Vancouver), this facility worked out great for organizing photo sessions, conducting athlete interviews, and exploring non-sports stories about art, culture, industry and tourism. We’ll talk more about this example over a hypothetical coffee but, … whether or not there is a “non-accredited media centre” we will invite folks to our Gastown loft office to add another layer of coverage beyond what CTV (in Canada’s case) has in store.

Frankly, this solution is hardly ideal (it *is* a working office after all) so we’re also touring downtown locations and talking to landlords and sponsors about acquiring a larger space – it’s too big of an opportunity to settle for “good enough”.

Opinion round-up

Competitive videographer and Bootup Labs Marketer, Jordan Behan comments with an inquiry about VANOC’s social media (non)strategy:

“The decision to exclude the likes of the Raincity gang is quite puzzling, even without a social media strategy in place. In Dave’s full letter, he highlights the history of the fan-based, non-intrusive coverage they’ve done at previous Olympic Games, and it’s clear that this kind of participation only benefits the host city, the Games and even the holders of exclusive broadcast rights. I’m holding out hope that Vanoc (and our Canadian Olympic committee, apparently) will take great strides, not only to appear to appease social media creators, but instead fully embrace the concept and help to redefine citizen journalism’s role in Games coverage. With some creativity, they should be able to do so inside of the confines of the above-mentioned (archaic in these times, if you ask me) broadcast rights.”

While Kris and I were in-between the official press briefing (where I somehow caught a cold) and the Olympic Resistance Network pres conference, Mr. Behan sent this Twitter update:

“jordanbehan @uncleweed It’s ok to be pro-Olympics, and still anti-exclusive rights broadcasting and media monopolies, etc. At least, I hope it is. 12:48 PM Nov 20th

Techvibes‘ Greg Andrews offered his insight with Vancouver 2010 Organizers Snub Social Media (Nov. 20, 2008 2:21PM), where he points out how Kris and I didn’t fit into either group (protesters or journos) with twitter updates and commentary:

“Unlike many Vancouverites that were outside the event in the rain protesting the Olympics, Olson and Krug had intentions of journalism, not protest. Between them and Raincity CEO Robert Scales, they’ve unofficially covered the last four Olympic games, in addition to Olson’s blogging and podcasting of Canucks hockey.

Via Twitter:

Got stopped at the door. “if you guys are here to protest pls go accross the street”. Now they’re checkin our credentials.

We were just escorted from the building. We had better access, even a welcome in Beijing and Torino.

@todmaffin agreed they can’t make us go home. but we’re not here to protest in the rain, we’re here as jounalists.”

Ruth Seeley commented on the Tech Vibes article pointing out the perception of value is no longer based on delivery method:

I wonder if they let in folk from The Tyee? It would be interesting to find out – because that could be part of the argument for allowing access to a broader definition of media. If anyone truly believes that 24 or Metro deserve access because they’re printed on paper and The Tyee doesn’t, some re-examination of belief systems needs to begin.

View from the Isles writer and photographer (now now working at Media2o) Tris Hussey offered his thoughts in “Raincity throws down the gauntlet to VANOC: Let citizen media in!” and asks what VANOC plans to do:

“Will VANOC step up to the plate where other host cities and Olympic Committees have not? That’s an open and excellent question. I for one would welcome social media participation at the games. I think we’d all be the richer for it.”

Raincoaster Lorraine (who teaches blogging workshops in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside) followed up with her thoughts:

“Vancouver’s citizen journalists have done an exceptional job of covering the last several Olympics, and have, in fact, become known worldwide for it. This is a creative proposal that would ensure that, rather than taking an oppositional stance, Vancouver’s citizen journalists take one in support of the Olympics and civic pride.”

Ianiv the Blogaholic (who also works at crowd sourced media site Now Public) writes about how ubiquitous recording devices have changed how media is created (and what media is) in, “Social Media and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics“, saying:

“With the prevalence of devices capable of recording video, still images and sound, it is almost impossible that a significant event will not be recorded in some way. And sometimes all this content created by the people is at odds with the interests of the corporations that produce or sponsor an event.”

… and Ianiv continues with concerns about the power of takedown notices which are often foisted at well-meaning and unsuspected fans …

“It remains to be seen what VANOC’s response will be, if any. It would be very nice if everyone could document their Olympic experience and share it with the rest of the world without the fear of getting takedown notices that would make all their efforts useless.”

Vancouver (really Victoria) blog-father, new PR ace, and theatre enthusiast Darren Barefoot posts his thoughts (complete with a geeky Venn diagram) in “Thinking About Social Media and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver” and frames expectations of what social media makers seek to make their reportage.

“As Dave says, social media types aren’t expecting all-access passes to the gold medal hockey games. He’s right to point out that there’s a big hole to fill in the media coverage for such an event. I was thinking about it, and drew this little Venn diagram:

Venn Diagram about Social Media at the Olympics

The CTVs and CBCs are going to have the major, breaking news covered. It’s all that green space–that’s where social media creators can live. Through various channels, I’m seeing several ways forward for benefits for both parties. Social media creators get some tools, resources and access to help with their citizen journalism efforts, and VANOC enjoys a whole new layer of news coverage. Such a partnership would also highlight Vancouver’s place as a global for new media, citizen journalism and the like.”

BuzzNetworker Colleen Coplick sets the scene and asks for an update in “The Olympics Must Adapt to New Media” (in her usual witty style):

“Recently, the Vancouver Organizing Committee (aka VANOC – you know, the bigwigs in charge of all of the Olympic everythings in Vancouver) began a four-day “World Press Briefing” for more than 250 visiting journalists and media managers. There was some serious debate about how media coverage of the Olympics is changing dramatically due to new and emerging media.”

“So, Dave, Kris, Robert, where do we stand on this? Has VANOC gotten back to you? Have we come to any sort of conclusion here?”

Nothing yet Colleen, stay tuned for updates.

Out-Smarts Internet Marketing firm’s Mhairi Petrovic wrote “The Olympics and Social Media” speculates on the Olympic committee’s concerns and the unstoppable force of social media coming in 2010:

“Its no surprise that the Olympic committee is shirking this question.  Many organisations especially large traditional companies (those that vet each and every public communication to ensure it reflects the corporate line) view social media as a quandary and even a threat to their brand.  They think that encouraging community participation leads to loosing control of that branding process.  But the fact of the matter is that brands are out there in the public forum anyway. Isn’t it better to be part of the conversation to learn adapt and grow because of it than to be on outside throwing out press releases.

Social media journalism is undoubtedly going to be part of the Olympics in Vancouver with an army of bloggers, social network participants and online journalists all giving their perspectives.  Rather than stick their head in the sand the Olympic committee should be embracing this new way to entrench its brand with new generations and different communities.”

Jenn Lowther lays out our big mission with “Social Media and the 2010 Olympics” and peers into the future to how the possible scenarios might play out:

“Kris and Dave were there not only as representatives of Raincity Studios, but as ambassadors for Vancouver’s entire Social Media and Citizen Journalism community – their exclusion from the briefing sends a message that social media is not a welcome commentator when it comes to the 2010 Olympics.

Regardless of how VANOC feels about Social Media and Citizen Journalism, it needs to realize that we will be covering the Olympics for our various media properties. Ideally, we would like to work with VANOC, ensuring that we are aware of the basic guidelines that it has regarding our coverage, i.e. not showing a Telus ad when Bell is a sponsor.  By excluding us from the VANOC media briefing, the organization is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy – by not including members of the Social Media community for fear that we will not follow the rules, it is ensuring that we do not know what rules need to be followed.

Yes, currently we do not measure our readership levels at those of mainstream media, but in aggregate we do receive significant viewership. In my opinion, VANOC is being extremely myopic in their exclusion of Social Media and Citizen Journalism, when it has a perfect opportunity put in their laps – being the first Olympics to fully capitalize on the power of Social Media that is present in Vancouver’s thriving tech community. When the Olympics are over and the MSM’s coverage of the Olympics is relegated to a disk or hard drive in some storage area collecting dust, the coverage from Citizen Journalists will be alive online, gaining views daily, reminding people how truly awesome the Vancouver 2010 Olympics really were.”

Finally (for today at least) social media’s Clark Kent (and former Raincity Studios cohort) Will Pate offers kind words about us (thx bud) and words of advice for VANOC in Social Media’s Place in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games:

Several of the folks in question are colleagues of mine, and represent Raincity Studios, the web studio I’m proud to say I co-founded. Kris Krug, Robert Scales and Dave Olson are tireless social media practitioners, trainers, authors and conference organizers. They represent the best of what Canada does when it comes to the ongoing evolution of journalism through technology. They are treated with the respect due to recognized experts outside Canada, it would be a loss for the Vancouver games to overlook great talent in their own backyard. It would be a win to build on what they learned using social media to cover the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Nor should social media as a force for good and bad PR be overlooked. The news has been filled in the last few years with stories of journalists, politicians and businesses tanked by bloggers and cameraphones. But my colleagues are not proposing to build a virtual lynch mob, interfere with the major networks who pay good money for exclusive coverage of the events, or otherwise tarnish the image of our beloved Vancouver.

My colleagues want to help the mass of people who will arrive to watch and create social media at the games. I would like to see VANOC and the IOC reconsider bringing them to the table, at least so their exclusion doesn’t become a story that detracts from what I expect to be a most successful event.

If I may humbly offer a piece of advice: a little love goes a long way with the social media crowd. You don’t need to give them the VIP treatment, a seat at the big kids table is enough. Recognizing the powerful voice of the people will do wonders for getting them to sing on key.

Well said Will, a seat at the big kids’ table *and* a tasty turkey drumstick will help us all ;-).

My three cents

My personal reason for caring about all this starts from being a sports fan, a social observer and a documentarian and a belief that authentic media works better for many audiences. What I’ve found about the Olympics is what you see on TV is not like the experience on the ground.

The viewpoints and stories which are the richest and most compelling aren’t the ones getting the round-the-clock coverage. If i drift into anecdotes here I’ll never get this posted so I’ll save my loquacious stories for a fireside chat with a tasty beverage ;-). Be sure to ask me about the impact of a :10 video clip of the first ever Nepali Winter Olympian.

I should point out for the record (since I am being transluscent here). I grew up in Whalley in the 70s, I lived in both Salt Lake City, Utah and Nagano, Japan prior to those regions hosting the Olympics and witnessed controversies aplenty. I’ve also seen the changes (good and bad but mostly good) resultant from hosting an event of this magnitude. I traveled and worked in 20+ countries and now live in North Vancouver and will be hosting all sorts of international friends at my place during the Games (well those who bribe me appropriately at least – hint: bring micro-brews).

Like many British Columbians, I am bombarded with negative Olympic-related news from loan guarantees gone wild to security budget chaos and street closures. I work next to the heart of DTES and see daily the lives of the disenfranchised and addicts and homeless. These are very real problems but also beyond the Olympic mandate. Certainly though, pausing to consider their point of view will cause the most calloused to think twice about how we spend public money.

I have a 14 year old son who is stoked for Aerials and Moguls and Snowboard at Cypress Mtn. I saw 4 out of 6 Team Canada men’s hockey games in SLC and saw every hockey team (men’s and women’s) in the tournament at least once. Heck, Don Cherry even wore my hat! and i held the torch a few times … ooops i am starting on the stories …

Anyhow, this time, I am personally most excited to meet more Latvian hockey fans and watch Jeremy Wotherspoon fulfill his Olympic potential at the glorious new oval – where I also hope to see my friends from Thuringen, Germany again set records and party afterwards. Like I said, i’ts a whole different Games on the ground compared to the TV coverage of superstars and scandals.

Indeed, there are huge social problems facing residents of our fair region, but they won’t improve by complaining, instead we must use this platform judiciously and show that Vancouver has the ability to shine a light towards the possibilities of what we can accomplish as a progressive, creative and cooperative society – the Games are coming and I am ready in many ways.

Notes from the Resistance

Ready to wow the world

As for protesting the Olympics, … the Olympic Resistance Network‘s press conference didn’t get too much International coverage as hoped but some Canadian sources took notice of their various concerns: Canadian PressThe TyeeGlobe and Mail.

These concerns are express by people who frankly have a hard time getting their message heard by the “suits” and as such, feel disconnected from the process and a bit ornery about the Games to say the least. I recorded audio to go along with photos and video of the Olympic Resistance Network event and will try to get that posted to share their important stories and concerns.

Keeping the conversation going

I’ve also pinged the erudite Olympic scholar Dr. Andy Miah in the UK for his comments so hope to hear from him for the next update, along with sharing whatever response we receive from VANOC. As rumoured, we are planning for a meeting next week to riff ideas about creating social media centres in Vancouver and Whistler (perhaps with sponsors?) – whew.

Mainstream media who wish to speak with Kris Krug, Robert Scales or myself (Dave Olson) about this topic, contact details are at the Raincity Studios media kit. Social media makers already know how to find us ;-).

PS If I missed including your coverage, please leave a comment. Ditto if you have something to say about the role of Social Media in the Olympics.

Re-cap of VANOC World Press Briefing and Olympic Resistance Network Press Conference | Vancouver Access 2010

Re-cap of VANOC World Press Briefing and Olympic Resistance Network Press Conference via Vancouver Access 2010, November 21, 2008 By Dave Olson

Ready to wow the world

Following up on our Open Letter to VANOC, here’s a quick re-cap of observations and experiences at the Worldwide Press Briefing and the Olympic Resistance Network press conference, November, (Thursday) 20, 2008.


Kris Krug and I (Dave Olson) went to Canada Place and were rejected entry to the VANOC worldwide press briefing event. We had hoped use our experience crowd-covering previous Olympic Games to discuss how social media can enhance the accredited media’s coverage and also provide deep documentary into the fan experience and lesser-known athlete’s stories.

Alas, we were asked (demanded) to leave and watched over by a handful of Vancouver Police Officers apparently because Canada Place is private property. Outside we chatted about the issues of openness, and homelessness with media and protesters.

Checking in from Canada Place video:

KK and Uncle Weed check in from Canada Place after being rejected entry to the VANOC worldwide press briefing event — We had hoped use our experience crowd-covering previous Olympic Games to discuss how social media can enhance the accredited media’s coverage and also provide deep documentary into the fan experience and lesser-known athlete’s stories. Alas, we were asked to leave and watched over by a handful of Vancouver Police Officers.

Filmmaker Manfred Becker for Canada’s National Film Board.from Canada’s National Film Board was on hand to capture coverage including a brief interview with Dave Olson:

Outside of the VANOC worldwide press briefing, independent media maker Dave Olson answers questions about the Olympics, protests, and tension between social concerns and international events. He spiels forth about peace, pacifism, understanding, love of winter sports, copyright, rumoured riots, the importance of dialogue and respect and conversation. Also he briefly recounts his experiences covering Olympic Games from a grassroots point of view.

This presaged the True North Media House project which self-accreditation campaign to document the civic, sports and culture stories in a participatory manner.


In the afternoon, we attended the Olympic Resistance Movement press conference at the Anti-poverty Committee’s headquarters where several First Nations Elders expressed their concerns about the games impact on environment and culture and a lawyer from Pivot Legal Society discussed the broken promises about displacement, housing and security and a gentleman from the Work Less party broke down the Millennium construction loan guarantee boondoggle.

Names and details and audio coverage to follow.

speaking to CTV
Garth Mullins of Olympic Resistance Network speaks to CTV at a Press Conference, Photo by Dave Olson


Olympic Worldwide and Olympic Resistance Network Press Briefing photoset

VANOC & ORN Press Conferences

Greg Andrews at Tech Vibes offers his opinion of our outreach efforts and VANOC’s lack of community translucency:

I don’t have to tell you that the 2010 Winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver, because we’ve been hearing about it regularly for the last few years. But who gets to tell the story? Raincity Studios folk and local mavens of social media Dave Olson and Kris Krug wrote the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) for permission to attend today’s Worldwide Press Briefing, but received no response. About 200 representatives of various international press organizations have come to the city to be briefed on press services and facilities, and to tour Olympic venues. Unlike many Vancouverites that were outside the event in the rain protesting the Olympics, Olson and Krug had intentions of journalism, not protest. Between them and Raincity CEO Robert Scales, they’ve unofficially covered the last four Olympic games, in addition to Olson’s blogging and podcasting of Canucks hockey. Krug posted to Twitter as they tried to get in:

assembled media

Photo by Dave Olson

Got stopped at the door. “if you guys are here to protest pls go across the street”. Now they’re checkin our credentials.We were just escorted from the building. We had better access, even a welcome in Beijing and Torino.

@todmaffin agreed they can’t make us go home. but we’re not here to protest in the rain, we’re here as jounalists.

Unfortunate to see this outcome, but not surprising. VANOC has seemingly been given whatever power and money necessary to shoehorn this elephant of an event into Vancouver. This includes suggesting that business close during the Olympics, and trademarking phrases of our national anthem. Recent elections have proved the power of online media in getting stories out whether mainstream media gets around to it or not. The online conversation about the Olympics happens regardless of VANOC’s approval. It becomes their choice to be a part of it, or alienate it.

Source: Re-cap of VANOC World Press Briefing and Olympic Resistance Network Press Conference | Vancouver Access 2010

Open Letter to VANOC Media Relations and Press Operations from Social Media Makers – Open Letter #1

Open Letter to VANOC Media Relations and Press Operations from Social Media Makers, by Dave Olson

NOTE: Sent to VANOC {,} Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008.
Cross-posted at:,,, etc.

Hello VANOC Media Relations and Press Operations,

I am writing today on behalf of Raincity Studios, a Vancouver-based social media company who owns and publishes a suite of media properties. We had hoped to talk about social media (blogs, podcasts, twitter, wikis etc.) at the World Press Briefing this week, however we did not receive any response from the applications we submitted to participate in the event. So, as per Mr. Furlong’s suggestion at the Vancouver Board of trade meeting last week, we are liaising with VANOC.

In brief, we’d like to have a conversation about how to allow fans and amateur media makers to document their Olympic experience while keeping out of the way of the IOC IP lawyers. As a company and as individuals, we’ve produced extensive, non-accredited coverage of Beijing 2008, Torino 2006, SLC 2002, and Nagano 1998. With the next games literally in our neighborhood, we’ll be hosting an independent, international media centre at our Gastown loft office. As part of this, we’ll organize events like photo walks and aggregate fan-made content for the enjoyment of a worldwide audience. We’d like to work with you to do this for mutual benefit.

As you likely know, Vancouver is a hub of innovative journalism with companies like ourselves, Now Public, and others plus renowned conferences like Northern Voice. Raincity Studios/Bryght is also an “official weblog service provider.” My colleagues Robert Scales and Kris Krug were published in the academic paper “Pathway: Critiques and Discourse In Olympic Research,” participated in the 9th International Symposium on Olympic Studies in Beijing and will be presenting about the experiences at the noted SXSW Interactive conference in 2009.

Among my colleagues and myself, we’ve posted thousands of photos, dozens of audio and video podcasts along with hundreds of blog posts, updates etc. from several Olympics. Additionally, we’ve cooperated with mainstream media and published Olympic-related coverage in the LA Times, BBC online, plus outlets in Poland, Brazil, Shanghai, and so on.

In Torino, Scales and Krug (and others) tested cutting edge equipment for Comvu and produced a cross-ocean symposium “Athletes and Social media” between Turin and Vancouver. In Beijing, they tested camera for Qik and contributed to many mainstream media outlets. Our own media properties include,,, plus dozens of other presences, and we are allied with dozens of other media properties in BC and around the world.

Mr. Scales is China desk editor for Now Public and has presented to numerous international business groups about Olympics and business. Mr. Krug is ranked #4 on Vancouver Sun’s “Internet Most Visible in Vancouver” list, both Krug and Scales were included on Tech Vibes “Vancouver Digital Media People to Watch 2008″ list and appear on various other “best of” lists.

As for myself, I’ve produced extensive photo essays of event venues and published interviews with Canadian athletes like Duff Gibson, Ross Rebagliati and Crispin Lipscomb and written magazine articles about Olympians. I also appear on CBC Radio One discussing sports culture and new media as the producer/host of the Canucks Outsider podcast.

Bear in mind, aside form the occasional stipend, we do this work for no pay.

We are aware of your obligations to media rights holders and are seeking to provide an entirely different sort of coverage than the accredited media provide. We are not looking to cover events per se but are instead interested in covering the cultural stories, athletes’ families’ stories, and stories from fans who saved and traveled from around the world for this experience. In other words, we plan to encourage and aggregate fan coverage of the individual’s “on the street” experience of the Games. We are locals who have watched (and helped pay for) the development of the Games since before the Plebiscite – as a result, we are tuned in to the issues and excitement surrounding the Games.

To begin our liaison relationship, we would like to attend the media briefing portion of the Worldwide Press Briefing on Thursday. We would also schedule a follow-up conversation with the appropriate point of contact to discuss how we as a weblog vendor company, and as individuals, can be involved in providing amateur coverage of Vancouver/Whistler 2010.

With Best Regards,

daveo (and Robert Scales and Kris Krug)

Dave Olson
Community Evangelist
PS These links will provide a flavour of our point of view:

* Raincity Studios Olympics posts:
* Olympic overage at Daily Vancouver:
* Beijing kick off post:
* Krug’s Flickr Olympics photos:
* Scales’ Flickr Olympics photos:
* Olson’s Flickr Olympics photos:
* You Tube videos:
* Olympic Outsider podcast feed:
* Scales’ Olympic coverage on Now Public:
* SLC 2002 photo/video essay:

Source: Open Letter to VANOC Media Relations and Press Operations from Social Media Makers | Vancouver Access 2010

Beijing Olympic Explorers Making International Media via Vancouver Access 2010

Beijing Olympic Explorers Making International Media via Vancouver Access 2010, by Dave Olson, August 12, 2008

In this instalment of the Beijing Summer Olympics social media report, we join Robert Scales and Kris Krug as they spread their on-the-ground reportage around the world. Indeed, their barrage of videos, photographs and words are deepening the coverage for fans, pundits and athletes’ families as their coverage is picked up by social and mainstream media outlets.

Coverage Highlights

Scales is the poster boy for the BBC

BBC’s Canadien Correspondent

Robert Scales’ second entry from his Olympic diary is up on BBC – this time he talks about the opening ceremonies (video) and their venue reconnaissance (video) with visits to the Birds Nest’ national stadium, the ‘Water Cube’ aquatic centre, the fencing hall and the Yukeson basketball stadium while fortified by snake, silk worms, scorpian and salamanders (videos).

Beijing’s Faces in LA Times

Krug’s Olympic photos are in the LATimes blog with a photo essay called the Faces of Beijing – the candid photos show KK’s skill of relaxing the subject to be themselves – you can almost feel the humidity in the photos.

International folks at the Olympics

International Men of Mystery

Kris scored one of the rarer tickets of the Games – after a long wait in the rain, he hauled his camera gear into the Men’s Basketball game between the USA and China.

Besides providing fan’s eye view shots of the elite players in the game (watched by over one billion people), he snapped a bevy of world leaders hanging out in the stands. The identification game continues as Flickr followers add tags and notes to ID the luminaries beyond the Bushes (i.e. Prince of Denmark, Emperor of Japan, Henry Kissinger’s wife … etc.)

KK in Brasil's national broadcaster's site

Brazil is social broadcasting

Kris Krug’s evocative photos are included in Empresa Brasil de Comunicacao the official broadcaster of Brazil with a great social media rich and ready Olympic coverage site in Portuguese.

Cultural Exploration

Scales and Krug’s cultural journey rolled on with visits to various hospitality houses hosted by countries’ teams and sponsors.

After a visit to the Canada house (not much going on there), they visited the Netherlands house (video) to enjoy tasty croquettes and partying good time (the Nederlanders, always clad in orange, are easy to find) and also hung out at the last Drive-in theater in Beijing.

Olympic social media Symposium

Symposium and Academia

Robert and Kris participated in the Olympic Studies Symposium with Dr. Andy Miah – we’ll hear more about this later with full recap on the opinions and trends discussed by this academic panel.

In the meantime, listen to them read a stirring passage from the companion book about Olympics and Social Media (video).

Quick hits

Social Coverage

Miss 604 is keeping an eye on the Beijing 2008 social media coverage by and for the people!

Canada’s broadcasting online

CBC is hosting athlete’s diaries
– which begs the question: What is the difference between an online diary and a blog? Is nomenclature the only distinction? And bear in mind, there are restrictions about what athletes can say and show.

How about blogs by CBC regulars? The IOC doesn’t consider blogging journalism so what are these dispatches to be called? And is there a role for political conversation around the Games?

Also, thanks to CBC for offering raw live feeds from the venues – just what i wanted and i am sure the athletes’ families are thrilled!

Note/request to BBC

While I am stoked the BeeB is outreaching to
the “amateur” media makers, I’d really like to see better url namespace and even unique feeds for the diaries to make it easier to follow along with the authors you want to read.

Seahorses don't appear tasty to me

Meats on sticks

Speaking of namespace, Kris contributed a radio interview to Vancouver local radio station who gave a lesson in obnoxious post titling and url writing.

Give BZ’s interview with KK a listen nevertheless to hear about eating odd foods on a busy market street.

I’ve often said “meat on a stick is what unites the world” but i’m not so sure in this case.

Canadians try harder

The Canadian trail has been bereft of medals thus far despite lots of Canadian records in the pool and some solid rowing/sculling qualifying (video) performances, but my fave Canuck Olympian so far is Badminton ace Anna Rice who handled the massive interest in her sport with aplomb and enthusiasm after going out in the group of 16 to a Chinese opponent. North Van represent!


So, with all the talk about the great firewall … how is the Internet access anyhow? How do people connect? Is all access created equal?

What’s up with fencing? Those helmets are out of control and i still don’t understand the scoring!

Source: Beijing Olympic Explorers Making International Media | Vancouver Access 2010

The Role of New Web Media at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games via Vancouver Access 2010

The Role of New Web Media at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games | Vancouver Access 2010 by Dave Olson, June 5, 2008

I’ve mentioned some pre-Olympic and Olympic Games related activities coming up in passing. Now, as topics are piling up and the Beijing Summer Games are nearing (complete with controversy), henceforth begins a blog mini-series called, “China, The Olympics, Social Media, Symposiums, etc.” – I think I’ll need a better name for the series though. Suggestions are welcome.

we are the media


As you likely know, Raincity Studios actively conducts business in China with an office in Shanghai and the Raincity Studios site is published in English and Mandarin (French underway) and we collaborate with Chinese colleagues and some of us (not me) study Mandarin language. Just so ya know where we’re coming from.

Social Media at Olympics

As for the Olympic games, RCS crew were at Torino 2006 – documenting the Olympic events as social media journalists using the Torino Piemonte Media Center and creating heaps for grassroots coverage (see Torino Flickr pool, DailyVancouver Torino, coverage) as well as participating in BC House activities on a professional basis.Along with Scales, BMann and KK in Turin, Roland, Will Pate and I linked up for a cross-ocean symposium “Web 2.0 and the Future of Sport” about tech and athletics featuring gold medalist Ross Rebagliati (Flickrcoffeewithross).Live SimulcastAmong other topics, we discussed the restrictions (or lack thereof) put on self-expression by athletes as well as ways the participants can use technology to better communicate with friends and family back home. Really so many athletes will never make it to TV and their families seek the micro-coverage possible only by crowd sourcing e.g. the first ever Nepali winter Olympian (SLC 2002 Olympics collection).

Olympian Politics

With the 2010 Winter Games coming to our HQ city of Vancouver, and the resultant controversies (mostly concerning tax money spent on events rather than poverty and homelessness), we, like much of the world, are watching as the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing is becoming increasingly politicized and watching the reaction of the government and the citizens of the world.The most visible conundrum is the torch relay which was used as a rallying point for anti-China protesters and widely reported about on Now Public among other citizen journalism and mainstream media sites.Certainly political gamesmanship is a staple in the modern Olympic games and the heavy handed security surrounding the torch parade is only the beginning of a conversation about the perceived emphasis on tight security and enforcing the stringent policies of the Chinese government rather than using this global event as a springboard to openness.Having met several Olympic athletes who are eager to chronicle their experience freely, I am curious if athletes will be allowed and encouraged to speak openly while at the Games? (Blogging, Athletes and web sites – …). Can they report on their experiences in candid fashion? Can they explore the region and travel the country without hindrance? or will the world see just the parts of China which look good on TV?

Make Your Own Media

Beyond the political conversations, as social media content creators and advocates of journalistic access for indie producers, we are also watching carefully as the policies about social media coverage are created (by who?).So far there are mixed signals about athletes not/allowed to blog, and how amateur created content can be used (is posting your personal Olympic photos Flickr OK?) How about creating podcast coverage of the games with reaction to in-person and/or televised coverage?Dr. Andy Miah at the Piedmont Media Center in Torino 06

International Symposium

Well, we’re not the only ones with these questions. Olympic scholar Dr. Andy Miah is organizing a panel at the9th International Symposium on Olympic Studies, in Beijing, August 5-7, 2008.Before we get too far along, what is the ICOS?

The International Centre for Olympic Studies, established at The University of Western Ontario in 1989, was the first of its kind in the world. It remains the only such Centre in the Americas. It has as its primary mission the generation and dissemination of academic scholarship focused specifically upon the socio-cultural study of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement.

And the event blurb:

The Symposium’s theme, “Deconstruction and Discourse: Odysseys in Olympic Socio-Cultural Matters,” focuses on research studies dealing with the history, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy of the modern Olympic Movement.

Emerging Journalism Panel

Dr. Miah (who is a Reader in New Media & Bioethics, School of Media, Language & Music, University of the West of Scotland)’s topic is “Emergent Journalistic Practice at the Olympics” will feature a panel of Ana Adi,Beatriz Garcia, Raincity Studios President Kris Krug, Raincity Studios CEO Robert Scales,Garry Whannel, and Tina Zhihui.Here’s the panel description from the abstract:{Ed note: Paragraph breaks mine to make easier reading}

Research into the role of the media within the Olympic Movement has focused predominantly on representational questions. Far less research has investigated the journalistic culture of an Olympic Games or the Movement more generally, besides analyses of its contribution to sustaining the Olympic Movement.Moreover, nearly no research has examined the work of those journalists who are peripheral to the organizational staging of the Games.This category includes journalists who are associated with accredited media institutions, but whom might not have formal accreditation due to restrictions on numbers of passes. It also includes journalists who are from major media organizations, but whom have no intention of working from Olympic facilities. However, it also includes non-accredited journalists, which encompasses professional journalists from a range of organizations, along with freelance or citizen journalists, whose work is utilized by the mass media and is duplicated in independent domains.This panel engages some of these issues in the form of a round table debate about the future of journalism at the Olympic Games. It reviews some of the implications of emerging new media platforms, arguing that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games can be characterized as the first Web 2.0 Summer Games. While some principles of Web 2.0 have been visible since the Internet’s inception, critical aspects of its current architecture began to flourish around 2005. Applications from this era, such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, more adequately enable users to report the Olympics as citizen journalists.The implications of this within China and for the Olympics more broadly are considerable. As mass media organizations begin to strike partnerships with new media institutions – for instance, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) purchased a YouTube channel in March 2007 – questions remain over how the Olympic Movement will protect its intellectual property, as the base broadens over ownership claims and via distributed publishing syndication.

Next up, More Questions

Now that you are briefed with sufficient background, the next post will pose a variety of questions which the panel will discuss so you can share your opinions about “China, The Olympics, Social Media, Symposiums, etc.”

Source: The Role of New Web Media at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games | Vancouver Access 2010

Social Media’s Place in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games | Flock

Social Media’s Place in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games via Flock, Nov. 25, 2008, By Will Pate

Note: Article shared here in full for historical record. Original article link is broken, as such, accessed from Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, Feb. 2017.  Posted with original publication date to place in context.


Olympic Flag Reception at Vancouver City Hall – photo gallery

Canada’s Governor General Michaëlle Jean (a Haitian refuge who immigrated to Quebec as a child) and Mayor Sam Sullivan (suddenly, the world’s second most famous quadriplegic) were on hand with a phalanx of officers of everykind to reveal the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympic flag.

Olympic Flag Reception at City Hall

Blogging, Athletes and Web Sites via Vancouver Access 2010

Blogging, Athletes and web sites via Vancouver Access 2010, Feb. 16, 2006, by Dave Olson

The IOC has told athletes not to participate in journalistic activities, which to them, means blogging.  This is good and bad. Bad cause i want to read the personal notes of the athletes rather than the contrived emotion and occasionally inane interviews.  In some ways this ban is GOOD because it shows that the whole citizen as journalist/artist/communicator trip is on the radar of the “grey suits” who run the IOC (and of course control the world ;-) ).

This is lame because many athletes use blogging as a means to stay in touch with family, friends and supporters.

A few examples of web stuff i’ve come across:

Kari Traa – the (uhh sorta hot) Norwegian mogul skiier keeps a “gossip” section on her site which she blogs about “controversial” content like where she is sleeping at the village (big screenshot on Flickr).  However, the IOC has decided that her actions are verbotten (big screenshot on Flickr).

Kari Traa - No blogging allowed

Why is this?  In thinking it over, the IOC feels that athletes blogging either a) infringes on someone’s rights; or, b) has potential to be inflammatory or otherwise contrary to the Olympic ideals, or c), am i missing something.

Torino Conversations – With athlete’s blogging is not allowed, corporate sponsor (err sorry, … Olympic “family”) blogging is allowed as demonstrated by a certain sugar-laden, artificially-colored beverage company’s attemptat promoting citizen journalism.  It comes across as amateurish, not amateurish like, “ahh these kids are making it themselves” but amateurish like an ad exec said, “hey billy, you like that Internet, go make find kids and do some of that bloggin stuff my kids talk about”  While the kids who are getting the trips are stoked, and the result is just lacking in any sort of insight or cutting-edgeiness.

Off the Podium is IOC’s official site seems to be geared towards USA disenchanted youth apparently.  They spent a lot of money on this Flash-o-mania site with moving shit and popping up console windows.  Mostly bios on athletes and explaining why said athletes are “cool.”  Seems like there is some good content here, just so buried in the endless container (egads, frames) that it isn’t worth the brain-strain.

TV coverage is starting back up so this is all you get for now.  Enjoy!

More later on Begg-Smith spam-antic, more websites, and hockey blather, and oh yea, i haven’t forgot about the SLC Flashback series but i am still putzing away at it – thanks for caring.

Source: Blogging, Athletes and web sites – to be continued … | Vancouver Access 2010

Torino 2006, Sunday Olympic Notebook for Feb. 12 via Vancouver Access 2010

Sunday morning observations ~ Olympic Notebook for Feb. 12, 2006 for Vancouver Access 2010, By Dave Olson

Greetings this Sunday Morning!

Just a couple of observations from last night’s and this mornings events from coverage I’ve managed to catch – augmented by a few notes by Dan Funboy.

Besides Jennifer Heil’s awesome performance and Women’s Hockey rolling over Italy (as I type they are leading Russia 10-0), i enjoyed an inspired performance by Italian long-track speed skater (insert name here), who absolutely looked like he was being pushed by the Italian crowd.  Great to see the homer country get on the medal board early too.

More about Speed skating, that hotshot American kid is fast and determined, watch his technique, a double push but they’ll likely talk about this on TV-coverage.  CBC has Catroina LeMay Doan doing color commentary and she was quite good (though she looks rather soccer-mom-ish now – cause well, … she probably is) but she called on Canada to support more and help the athletes to “own the podium” (the Canadian mantra).

06-catriona-lemay&doanCatriona Lemay and husband, Doan at Soldier Hollow Cross Country venue, Winter Olympics 2002 – photo Dave Olson

Of course, in egalitarian and thrifty Canada, most folks want the money spread around so each athlete can get a piece of the pie but, later as the Federal Sport Minister pointed out, they is better return on investment (judged by medals won) but entirely supporting elite athletes with best chance of medaling.

Digression … CBC has some versatile announcers to be sure, and I love a Saturday without Bob Cole and Harry Neale (retire for Pete’s sake), Ron Maclean is a national treasure, Steve Armitage is pretty good at everything but not great at any one, Brian Williams is Canada’s excessively perky Regis.

Claudia Pechstein and Daniela Anschuetz Thoms just skated the 3000m.  Claudia won in 2002 and Canada’s Cindy Klasussen holds the record and skates.  Not Claudia’s best race, a NED 19 year old sits in first.

Claudia Pechstein on drums
Claudia Pechstein, basking in Gold Medal joy and sitting in on drums with Acoustica at the Thuringen House, SLC 2002

Firecracker Danilea Anschutz of the German long-track speed skating team partying down at the Thuringen House, SLC 2002

Continuing update … Cindy is underway and flying so far, hope she keeps the pace, still under the time, drafting off her pairing (NED Groenewold) down the stretch, smart … still below the target after 2 laps – still looking relaxed and solid, 4 laps now and she is bonking, and slipped and Groenewold wins the heat as Klaussen lost it, tightening up on the last lap. Sits in third but still 4 skaters to go including Canada’s Christina Groves and Clara Hughes.

Freisinger skates now with Groves and neither skaters finished top 3. Clara set to start vs. Sablikova of CZE.  False start and then away clean.  The races have been fast and racers bonking at end so Clara must skate her pace.

Well no go for Sarah but Cindy finishes in Bronze position (same finish as SLC 2002) while the young Nederlander scores Gold.  Both Germans were shut out.

BTW, i really don’t like hearing about athlete’s “faiths” on air, i think that is a personal issue and the fact that she is a Mennonite doesn’t add to the athletic coverage.

Back to Women’s hockey vs Russia 11-0 now halfway through the 3rd.  In training, the women played 22 games vs. Alberta men’s midget teams (not *really* wee folks, just young men) and finished 10-10-2 and increased their physical game with more rough and tumble play.

It is amazing to see the veterans players for Canada against the Italian women last night (replayed from yesterday).  The Italians were tiny and young and looked dazzled by the burly and experienced Canadians to say the least.  Major props to the Italians who battled through to the end.  Heck, I wouldn’t want to have Goyette or Wickenheiser bearing down on me (yikes!).

Vicky Sunohara and Cherry Piper are my favorites.  Sunohara was awesome, gritty, smart player at Nagano and is Piper is wee but a battler and has great hands around the net.
Cherry Piper with newly won Gold Medal at the M’s Gold Medal Curling match at SLC 2002

12-0 now vs Russia, kinda a joke and an awkward situation for Canada to not let up and if they do, the gain lazy habits in front of net and on backcheck etc.

While Canada continues to roll, a note on downhill skiing which demonstrates the unpredictability of sport with the hotshot Americans finishing out of medals with a darkhorse Frenchman taking gold and Austria and Switzerland taking Silver and Bronze. Manuel Osborn-Paradis was the top Canucks finishing in 13th place Canucks while teammate Francois Bourque came in 16th with a strong finish.  The last Canadian also placed top 30, John Kucera came in in 27th place 2.75 sec off the winning time – just wait for 2010.

Cross-country skiier Beckie Scott finished in, what is likely a disappointing 6th, but in a 2002 Bronze finish, she managed to move up 2 places with positive doping test so maybe she’ll manage to gain a few places again.

Digression … is that Personal Digital Recorders (i.e. Tivo, Replay etc.) are excellent for the Olympics – why is Canada slow to adopt this tech just now available (as mentioned in the ubiquitous commercials)?  I have a Replay TV but no way to subscribe in Canada and I am trying to set it up just to pause and record what i am watching at the moment.

Next up on CBC, Short Track Speed skating and Jeff Christie Luging.

Go Canada!

Source: Sunday morning observations ~ Olympic Notebook for Feb. 12  | Vancouver Access 2010