Coverage of the Olympic Games is dominated by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) contracted rights-holder and accredited major media conglomerates. However some feel there is a role for crowdsourced documentation of both sporting events and the cultural context in which it happens.
This expert panel discusses changes, challenges, and opportunities facing grassroots media makers around the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.
Into the thick of the Olympic sporting competition, Canada is rolling in a litany of 5th, 6th, 7th places … but with track and field, rowing finals and trampolining yet to come, the Canucks still have a chance to visit the podium.
In the social media production department, Scales continues to create video at an epic pace despite losing his co-hort Kris who was repatriated to Vancouver in time for a glorious summer weekend. Scales is staying busy by picking up more tickets for varied events at the incredible new venues including the whitewater kayak run (plus visits to the Danish hospitality house).
I’m heading to the hills with tent and beverages so here’s a few highlights to enjoy with your weekend viewing:
Buzz Speaks of the Conundrums
Buzz Bishop, an on-air personality at 95Crave, also writes a tech column for daily paper 24 Hours. In an Aug. 13 dispatch, he addressed the fine line between professional accredited media and "grassroots" coverage created and disseminated by non-paid enthusiasts in an article he titled: Olympic Coverage From the Streets of Beijing. Here’s a nugget about this tension between MSM and the rest of us (joined in progress):
But Robert and Kris didn’t pay anything to have official broadcast rights for these games. Is what they’re doing by posting blogs, tweets, photos and streaming videos a violation?
“It’s a really complicated issue,” admits Krug.
“They’ll end up realizing that they can’t control all of it, and they’ll spend less effort trying to block people like us, and more effort monetizing the content they do control.”
The IOC has taken steps to rein in the content online as rights holders’ geoblock their websites to be only accessible within the rights holder’s borders. YouTube has also been approached to make sure highlights from the Games do not appear on the site, until after the rights window has expired.
Youtube with a takedown move
Reminiscent of the Judo competition, Youtube issued a swift takedown to Krug regarding his fan-made clips of a women’s basketball game.
As a registered USA Library of Congress DMCA agent, I know how the procedure works and have received many of these boiler-plate take down notices spewed out by the leery hosting companies with their phalanx of laywers, lackeys and salivating rights-holders. Methinks besides a nicer bedside manner, they could use a better copywriter.
Dear Member: This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by NBC Universal claiming that this material is infringing: Team USA Women’s Basketball – Beijing 2008:http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=fyPrwBVG9zYPlease Note: Repeated incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to prevent this from happening, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others.
Dear IOC/VANOC, Join the Conversation
No doubt the IOC need to listen in to social media makers at least a little. With 2010 happening in our open-everything-friendly backyard, perhaps they’ll listen to our message of: We are here and plan to document our experiences.We don’t seek to supplant the rights holder, rather we aim to enrich the experience for worldwide fans, athletes’ families and ourselves for personal expression. Call us, we’ll have coffee and talk – no big whoop.
Scales often casually mentions jobs/careers/experiences/adventures/skills which we, his colleagues, have little/no idea about. E.g. he’s a reiki practitioner, dive master, served in Canadian Forces, worked for Greenpeace etc. He’s also a fencer – not someone who sells stolen goods but a real sword-wielding fencer.
At my request, he prepared a video to explain this simultaneously classic and futuristic looking sport.
He also delves into the ticket buying scenarios in a video: Buying tickets and Empty seats in Beijing. Empty seats along with a few minor quibbles about the opening ceremonies have become touchstones for the mainstream broadcasters who seem to seek any topic which diminishes the Chinese efforts (or is it just me?)
Scales is exploring more sports, armed with a new Canon D9, a Nokia cameraphone and uploading movie with Qik. Check his Flickr photostream for more photos as per his latest tweet which says (sic):
I am beat and amazed at the amount of pictures i took today: 1500+ of fencing and archery.. I need to do some downloand but 1st sleep..
PS I’m Tivo’ing the end of the rain-delayed Canada vs. Cuba Baseball game so don’t tell me who wins.
Walking the streets of Beijing and exploring the night market..
I always wanted to eat scorpion, snakes and a few other things..
This is not the snake i am looking for, but will do for now..
24 hrs later i am still alive and not sick!
Background: Raincity Studios CEO/Founder Robert Scales and Pres/Ambassador Kris Krug are on the ground in Beijing to document and study the 2008 edition of the Olympic Games. They are publishing dispatches to a variety of news outlets including the venerable BBC. Here’s Scales’ first installment of his Olympic diary.
Since Autumn 2007, I have been living in China in preparation for the upcoming Summer Games.
I can honestly say that I have been an Olympic fan, or a "fen zhi" as the Chinese say, since I was a little boy!
I remember watching the 1976 summer games in Montreal on the TV, and
that has always stayed with me. In 2006, I had the opportunity to go to
the Winter games in Torino, Italy. This lit a flame in my heart and
since then I have been working on securing new opportunities to attend
future games such as Vancouver 2010 and London 2012.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing my Beijing
experience with you. I like to shoot low quality, single take, unedited
Some of my goals over the next 16 days are to attend the
Olympic fencing, which I have several tickets for on 15 August. I also
plan to visit some of the nation houses around the city to make new
international friends and meet athletes.
Other goals are to enjoy some of the local food and culture, and to have a great time.
Now, I must make myself ready to go and venture out into the Beijing
wild, in hope of finding the perfect spot to watch the opening
ceremony, since I have not been blessed with a ticket.
Raincity Studios Sino-Away-Squad of Scales and KK, are on the ground in Beijing to cover and participate in the Olympic experience as citizen journalism, technology experts, social pundits and cultural ambassadors.
The Glimmer Twins’ tasks are diverse and their methods varied so here’s a preview:
spreading international goodwill in the fun-loving/hard-working style they honed whilst at the Torino 2008 Winter Games.
Follow along with their content via your RSS feeder, Facebook or whatever you prefer … or, if you are in Beijing, track Scales/Krug down for a photo walk, meetup, excursion, interview, geekout or just a tasty beverage. Leave a comment to or message via the arsenal of communication funnels at their disposal.
In case you didn’t happen to know … Raincity Studios is an approved weblog vendor for Vancouver/Whistler 2010:
“Along with the good people at Raincity Studios, Bryght has been successfully passed an RFQ process to provide weblog services to the BC Olympic Games Secretariat.
We want to work with teams, countries, athletes, non-profits, and businesses who are preparing for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and want to take advantage of emerging internet technologies.
We can help you get online, start blogging, podcasting, posting video, sharing images, building a community and sharing your news and messages with a global audience hungry for information about the 2010 Games.
We’re experts in syndication, aggregation, web development, community development, search, microcontent, blogging, online publishing, Drupal, PHP, CSS, ecommerce, content management and hosting.
We have an experienced network of partner companies who have also been approved as Olympic vendors who we work with to offer comprehensive integrated marketing and communication campaigns from your browser or mobile phone at the front end to the web server at the back end as well as normal, real world marketing and communications.”
Have a Luge team needing a communication platform? Maybe a site to keep athlete’s and families in-touch? An interactive training diary for your entire team? We’d be pleased to help.
No matter your idea, Raincity Studios is ready to deliver a top-notch performance. Contact Raincity Studios to begin the conversation.
My point in doing this is to stimulate some discussion to push my own perceptions and resolve my own conflicts. You see, I am big fan of amateur sports (personally i prefer winter Olympic events) and an ardent advocate of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and someone who hopes for a greener planet. In some ways, I see these three as not jiving within the China paradigm. On another hand, i wonder is it really my place to ask an ancient culture why they do things they way they do?
As such, I question my personal (not professional) emotional investment in the athletes’ struggle. Should I watch them strive for greatness on the CBC while the background struggle seems so much weightier? Or are the Olympics a time for healing and celebration where understandings are fostered and differences sorted out? In other words, should i participate in the Olympics from my couch or from the streets!
I invite you to offer your answers to Dr. Miah’s questions. The comments are open for your opinions on China, the Olympics, Social Media, etc. – be frank and polite (and avoid ticket selling and other spam).
Media Access and Control
* Briefly describe whether or not you see the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as
a focal point for media transition in China.
* Will foreign journalists obtain the level of access they require to
undertake their work?
* Will the temporary legislation designating additional freedoms for foreign
journalists produce different coverage of China than we have seen before?
Politics and Focus
* Is political transition within a country a reasonable expectation to have
of the Olympic Games?
* How will commentators summarize the Beijing Olympic Games in
the closing minutes of television coverage at the end of the Closing
* Will the Olympic media focus, to the same degree, on sports, compared with
other Games, or will other narratives dominate the coverage?
* In what way are new media platforms enabling new forms of journalism to
surround the Beijing Olympics?
* In February 2008, the IOC released blogging guidelines, which indicate
that they do not consider blogging to be a form of journalism. Do you think
there is merit in their assertion?
* What kind of convergence is visible around old and new media in China, in
the context of the Beijing Olympic?
* Is citizen journalism politically prescribed in China?
* Claims have been made about China’s rising Internet population and its
surpassing the United States. In what ways do you perceive the utilization
of new media as distinct within China, compared with other nations?
* In this context of social media, freedom of press expression, and background of security and political posturing, what other questions come to mind?