Originally appeared in Vancouver Observer as Creating the People’s History of 2010: Accredit Yourself and Start Reporting, Partying, and Schmoozing with the World
“You know it’s gonna get stranger, so let’s get on with the show” Shakedown Street, Grateful Dead
Ours to Document
How are you spending your Olympics? No matter how you roll, whether you plan to celebrate, protest, or observe, my admonition is to document the people’s history about how the Olympics interacts with our communities like historian Howard Zinn would advise. Perhaps you’re skipping out of school to see some events or explore Vancouver’s hidden gems? Good. Recluse J.D. Salinger woulda wanted you to, but wouldn’t let you know it.
Indeed, the frustrations many feel about the Games is because the VANOC doesn’t represent “us” the way we see ourselves and we want the world to see our communities the way the really are. Not the fabricated, sanitized version TV will spew to the world. Alas, most any sense of excitement is overshadowed by the broken promises, funding overruns, security boondoggles and twisted public priorities. However, the Games are coming soon.
And if we don’t tell the stories from the street, who will?
My personal objectives are:a) story making; b) internationalizing; c) good times.
In other words, I’ll be seeking stories about lesser known athletes, civic conundrums, and festive adventures and inviting other social story tellers along for my forays and finding the best hospitality along the way.
Wanna do the same?
Declare your intentions with a self-accreditation badge and share something you enjoy. Lead a walking tour of Chinatown, the old Expo grounds or your own neighbourhood. Maybe host a pub meet-up for Latvian hockey fans, or show up for a blogger tour of the Police Museum. Rally a field trip to Surrey or Richmond for celebrations and cultural exchange with the rest of the outsiders. I’m envisioning a moveable feast of ad hoc events led by anyone, attended by anyone, no signup. Go with the flow, share your skills and content using web tools.
I plan to meet international arts and media-minded visitors and show them Vancouver beyond Stanley Park and Granville Island (though those are great too).
“The first thing you’ll probably want to hear is about my trip to Nagano, Japan where I rented a crumby flophouse to turn into a coffee and craft shop and all that kinda David Copperfield kinda crap, but all I remember from Nagano is that snowboarder whassis name getting all hassled – why can’t anyone just leave people alone – makes ya wanto head to the mountains and live in a bunker.”
– (not a) lost chapter from Catcher in the Rye
After seeing the torch in Olympia, WA, I loaded up a car with my brother, a stack of tickets, two ounces of herbal supplements and a trunk full of NW micro-brews and smoked meats and cheeses. After 13 days and 28 events, I’d documented with 700+ photos, dozens of video clips, a couple TV appearances, partied with gold medalists and lent Don Cherry my hat.
I also learned the power of grassroots reporting by sharing a video clip of the first-ever Nepali Winter Olympian (vid) and observed the passion of Latvian hockey fans. I also learned what you see on TV is very different from on the ground – ain’t it all bad. Heck, the Olympics brought public transit and liberalized beer laws to Utah!
I remained in Vancouver, living on Torino time with 4:00 AM cappuccinos and frustrating hockey games while my colleagues Mssrs. Krug and Scales were the new media pioneers encamped in Turin at the Piedmonte Non-accredited Media Centre, testing streaming video cams, visiting hospitality houses, and rallying photo walks in between events and business outreach.
I assembled a collection of Olympic Outsider podcasts and frequent Olympic Notebooks to document the sports, media, and business issues of the games. But the gem of the Torino 2006 social media experiment was the “Social Media and Sports Symposium” – a panel discussion delivered from Vancouver and Turin over the web featuring Ross Rebagliati discussing the changing role of blogging since Nagano with Roland Tanglao and Will Pate ~ the old media begin to notice the magma bubbling up from renegade tech-journ-artists.
Everyone wondered how the bureaucracy and policies of social control would affect every aspect of the Games and the torch relay was famously interrupted several times and the Olympics became a politically-charged event akin to days of Moscow and LA boycotts compared to relatively non-political Games in Athens and Sydney.
This time around, I again contextualized content from colleagues Kris and Rob who stormed Beijing like savvy pirates covering street food, conferences and fencing. From the Occident, I assembled massive storypacks from their artifacts through Raincity Studios and crafted educational toolkits and closely observed the nuances of IOC’s priority of protecting rights-holders.
Leading up to Vancouver turn to spend, there were a bevy of events to podcast including the Governor-General presenting the Olympic flag from Oslo, the flag tour with Crispin Lipscomb and Duff Gibson, plus reconnaissance of venues in Whistler, Cypress, Richmond and Vancouver.
But the big effort started with rejection from the worldwide press briefing and an open letter to VANOC – which sparked commentary, meetings and ideas. The letter also attracted media of all flavors to the conversation about the roles and regulations in the grey space between “accredited journalists” and “fans with cameras and recorders.”
Now the fruits of this conversation are evident with publications and organizations building coverage communities and logistical resources for all sorts of journos – more on these below.
Handing the Laptop
A few months ago at the IOC Congress in Copenhagen, ad man Martin Sorrell spoke about the “Digital Revolution” (video) Slide Deck (.pdf) to the assembled dignitaries and extolled the virtues of easing IP restrictions, embracing fan media makers and using social media channels.
While VANOC was late to the revolution (they have made efforts @2010Tweets – Youtube), London has a head of New Media evangelizing Change, Social Media and London 2012 plus concerned citizens are using social media in a non-confrontational manner to express concerns directly to Jacques Rogge. Dr. Andy Miah of Univ. of Western Scotland will be documenting what he sees here and sharing in the UK after participating in the Social Media and the Olympics Panel at Northern Voice here in Vancouver.
Residents of Sochi will enjoy the benefits of social media for community discourse from early days of their Games as they received a Knight News Challenge of $600,000 to use for:
“… the latest online tools to both discuss and influence the impact of the games. A web site and database will allow the community to track and debate how the plans are changing life there over a five-year period. The idea is to help residents better prepare for the Olympics, to inform the media about the city’s issues and to use discussions about the games as a way to improve life in Sochi.” A notable achievement to celebrate by – props to young Fulbright scholar, Alexander Zolotarev – and I hope i can help out!
Strong, Free, Social
While some are quick to polarize attitudes about the Games into pro or con, I am convinced that embracing a variety of opinions about the Olympix events is of significant value. While IOC and VANOC policies may be sources of personal frustration, by documenting the people’s history of the arts, sports and civic issues around Vancouver, we can effectuate positive change in our community and pass on knowledge for future events.
With this spirit in mind, the True North Media House campaign encourages social media education, aggregation and collaboration. My cohorts and I assembled a toolkit of practical resources to help find, tell, and share stories:
- Social Reporter Toolbox – articles, publishing outlets, journalist workspaces, free events, transportation
- Media Guidelines & Summary of Regulations – best efforts guide-sheet about relevant legislation and regulation
- Official Olympic Links – includes VANOC, IOC, Live Sites, Vancouver, BC, Canada governments, etc.
- The Cans and Can’ts of Media During the Olympics – a best efforts notebook of relevant regulations and laws
- News Desk – firehose of all TNMH self-accredited news feeds also available via RSS and @truenorthmedia
Stellar Work! The lads behind With Glowing Hearts – the Movie demonstrate the importance using creative art to document the social transitons and civic landscape which otherwise go under-noticed. Their ongoing film project includes a segment about the True North Media House evolution which Scales also discusses at Vancouver Access.
Good Idea! Like predictive back-to-school essays, some of my cohorts have published posts about how they will spend their Olympics – consider doing the same. Meet: John Biehler, John Bollwitt, Rebecca Bollwitt, Duane Storey plus the crew at Vancouver Access 2010 who are providing epic info resources for fans and props to event mapmaker 2010VanFan AKA Andrea.
Hang your @
- IBC at Canada Place 2 – no use mentioning it cause you ain’t getting anywhere near it unless you’re already sorted out
- BOB co-working centre – Building Opportunities through Business program has a drop-in co-working space and is hosting some CODE activities
- Network Hub – a entreptrenuraial co-working space renting desks by hour or month
- W2’s Media Arts Centre (also hosting the Legal Observers program) – call for pricing details
- BC International Media Centre – run by the provincial secretariat and hosting some accredited trad. and social media outlets
- Squamish tourism and rumours of more centres at UBC, Whistler/Blackcomb, Carnegie Library and others …?
- A city full of coffee shops and libraries with wi-fi and tables (tip your baristas)
Need a place to publish your work? Find an online community which suits your tastes like: Vancouver Observer, Now Public, Orato, Rabble.ca, Media Co-Op /Dominion or roll your own blog, set up Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo accounts to season, and you’re rolling.
Best Social Practices
There is a huge difference between sticking your content on Facebook and sharing it for the public enjoyment and archiving. Without giving your the full “Web2.0” manifesto, here are three critical steps to maximizing the reach and longevity of your creations.
- Publish your work Creative Commons – this alternative copyright framework allows you to give permission for non-commercial use with conditions of attribution and share-alike-ness (CC on Flickr)
- Tag it specific, tag it general – tags are meant to increase findability – i’ll use #van2010 for all Olympics related content and tags for community-specific awareness e.g.: #vo2010 #tnmh + track in HootSuite so I see everything</plug>
- Share it to last – don’t hide your content and expect your work to live on, instead, publish content across multiple sites including Wikimedia commons & Archive.org
It will get Weird
No matter what you think now, expect mind to expand and evolve as you find some inspiration or motivation which you never previously considered.
Perhaps, you’ll discover the notion to express yourself or find new co-conspirators to create a new reality or play a role in helping others explore the places you pass each day.
If not, methinks you’ve missed out on the biggest chance for international fellowship since Expo 86 – and whether you plan to celebrate, protest or observe, you now have the ability and opportunity to contribute to the public record.
So, what do you plan to contribute to the future?