Fresh Media Olympics Conference

On the 16th of February, pulmonologist my PhD Colleague Jennifer Jones and I were invited in our quality of staff writers of Culture @ the Olympics to join an International Journalism Panel on CKNW News Talk Radio here in Vancouver  discussing how journalists from across the world are covering the Olympics.We joined Jill Bennett and her other guests, price John Crumpacker of San Francisco Chronicle and Florian Zut of Swiss National Television. During the one-hour show we talked about our presence in Vancouver, and the other’s journalists coverage of the Games, culture at the Olympics and the relation and differences between traditional media and citizen journalists.

You can listen to the show here.
I found out yesterday, about it
on a very short notice, shop
that I was due to speak in a panel at the Fresh Media Olympics Conference held at W2 Community Media Arts in Vancouver. The panel was moderated by Hanna Cho (@hannerl on Twitter), researcher at Canada Pacific, the panel discussed the changes in the media landscapes from Beijing to London as well as the rhetoric surrounding each Games. Three of the panelists joined the conference via Skype. They were:

  • Maggie Rauch (@maggierauch on Twitter), sports journalist based in Beijing
  • Adam Minter (@adamminter on Twitter), an American writer based in Shanghai, and
  • Dr Greg Elmer (@greg_elmer on Twitter) Chair of Global Media Research and associate professor of Communication and Culture and Radio TV Arts at Ryerson University, and Director of the Infoscape Research Lab.

Kris Krug, photographer, web strategist and creative director  (@kk on Twitter) and I were sharing the couch.

During an hour and a half, all the panelist shared their views on, personal experiences and expectations from the Games, while also taking questions from the audience.

The video is here.

The Fresh Media Olympic Conference was opened with a keynote address with a twist given by Professor Andy Miah and continued with a parallel session on Harnessing the Media to Activate Citizens, where my PhD colleague Jennifer Jones was among the speakers.


  1. This was an excellent conference and the live streaming, skype and high traffic tweets tells us that people are interested in the debates about the social media and the Olympics. It was perhaps only accessible to an audience in the know and that for me represents one of the biggest challenges – in my mega events module only a handful of students are on Twitter and those that use Facebook certainly aren’t interested in activism. Would love to get you in to speak to students when you get back to Scotland.

    • David,
      Let’s get in touch in a couple of days when I’ll be back in Scotland. DM on twitter and we’ll take it from there.

  2. Sorry to butt in the conversation (talking to Ana through the wall so it’s all ok…) David – I just put a face to the twitter account, awesome. I didn’t realize you were based in Scotland? That’s cool.

    I found it quite frustrating yesterday, not because of the event itself (which was excellent for the most part), but more because of returning to the ‘default’ – discussing hashtags, technicalities and the like. I understand tha I was frustrated because of coming down to my own experiences (and feeling like I’ve been online.. forever), not because of what others wanted to do, but it had me thinking a lot of about the range of skills and discussion points required before we can see beyond the practicalities of the tools. I find it much easier when I feel like I’m fighting the traditional model, rather than when i’m singing in the choir.

    How do we do this? Do we have technical briefings about how to work things, do we set topics and try and keep within the topic (irony when the topic is about trying to contain and quantify the largest data set in the world) or do we try something new. I’ve learnt from past experiences that it is not as simple as getting everybody in a group onto twitter, or pushing information onto Facebook feeds.

    Despite all my person frustrations though, it was nice to see people during the other panel (which I was part of) talking about their positive experiences of using social media. That’s nice, but lacks objectivity – which I guess I was suppose to try and give – however, the objectivity doesn’t come critiquing the work of the positive and the hopeful in their safe space. I’m trying to understand where the space for critical discussion about social media may arrive.

    Perhaps that’s why the Olympics is good for getting people to talk to each other. I wonder what we’ll be saying about it all in 2 years time.

    (Sorry, I’m waffling but I’m trying make an attempt to work this all out.)

  3. Jennifer (and ana), agree about the lack of critical engagement with the social media – if it’s about activism only then surely once it becomes incorporated then it will lose some of the exciting power and potential it currently has. Around major events, I like the immediacy of it, the sense that you’re getting a feel for what it’s like on the ground for ‘joe public’ – but then clearly you have the emergence of the ‘gurus’ and they potentially distort and narrow duscussion. Agendas develop and we’re left asking whether the social media us as full of power relations as the ‘official’ or ‘accredited’ forms. Can we already say the social media is official?

    • I do like the “immediacy” part of it as well. I also believe you make a good point about remote/external involvement and think also that you rise important questions about the role of social media. I, for one, believe that your gurus example is a best fit for the spiral of silence, where the gurus are the vocal minority advocating on behalf of social media and the rest are silent either because they are not interested, do not have access or do not understand the technology and what it involves. As for social media being official, I think it is not there yet. However, attempts to include it in content production processes within traditional environments are made. I believe that once social media (as in a wide group of users engaging with it) starts behaving like traditional media, looking for revenue and fighting for audiences and ratings (sometimes while forgetting about quality) it is no longer part of “new media”.

  4. Very interesting stuff. I guess the new media was always going to attract the attention of conglomorates as it has the appeal of the adventure sport – radical, attractive to the digital native generation, quite subcultural, full of codes and symbols. Of course as with adventure sports, once the social media becomes colonised by external (commercial) forces then it disenchants its original participants who then seek differentiation elsewhere. Where do they social media innovators go once they find that their parents are tweeting?

  5. These social media “innovators” are a funny breed. Firstly, I think they chase the early adoption – I don’t know how many times people have send me invites to new platforms, stating that this is the future of the internet – as long as we can get a few more of our friends to join. Some of it was successful – myspace, facebook and twitter – but most recent examples include google wave – which nearly took off before xmas with its viral invites and user attempts to try and fit it into their daily online landscape. After xmas it revert back to the default, I wasn’t answering waves, I was being proded by email or twitter to response.
    Secondly, some environments simply are too niche or set up for particular “types” of people – some examples could include video blogging platforms like seesmic, qik, phreadz – which are all geared up for the internal show off, those of us that don’t mind talking to a camera, often on our own, in the hope that other response to our actual image, not just text.
    We may see some environments grow and mature – take Flickr for an example of a social media site which has maintained credibility but still provides basic access to those who want to share content without having to fit in to a particular type of mould whilst doing so.

    I think the future of social media will be a subtle one – we’ve made the big leaps, we’re waiting for others to “catch up” – as well as filtering out what we dont want to see within our networks. At the end of the day, it’s all about feeding the machine and feeding those networks that keeps the system going. If they find their parents tweeting, they don’t need to see it – but that’s assuming that their parents want to read their child’s feed. It seems to me that it is all about filtering and being to maintain a personal network, not a social network.

  6. Pingback:Aspects of Olympic Media « Ana ADI

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