Northern Voice 2009 Citizen Media and the Olympics Robert Scales and Andy Miah

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The first Northern Voice 2009 session following lunch in room 1005 here at the UBC Forestry Sciences building is Robert Scales (of Raincity fame) along with Dr Andy Miah, whose various credits include writing for the Huffington Post during the 2008 Beijing Olympics (he also came all the way here from Scotland, just for this!)

Photo from Beijing last summer: Scales on Flickr

Update: With the network issues I will attempt to update real-time but if that doesn’t work I’ll take notes and publish them here as soon as I’m back online.

Update: I have just been informed that there is a full panel for this talk, including DaveO as well who just blew on a big red horn to get our attention. “Michael Phelps has got nothing on these lungs.”

Debbi Lander came here from England as she is on the Cultural Committee for London 2012.

“I’m going to have the chance to see the third Olympics in Canada,” says Scales as he leads off the presentation. He gives us a run through of Canadian Olympic moments and says he’s definitely a fan.


He went to Turin in 2006 as independent media (through the non-accredited media centre) along with Kris Krug and covered it from a local perspective ie. hockey in the streets, and the impact on local culture. In 2008 he went to Beijing, which was a small leap from the Raincity offices in Shanghai. He was able to collaborate and create a document about the spirit of the Olympics with various research. Scales attended various events including achieving one of his goals of seeing Olympic fencing. As a result, the BBC picked up some of his work and asked him to write an Olympic diary. When he returned to Vancouver he opened more dialogue with VANOC and eventually became accredited through the BC International Media Centre. With that, a representative from the BCIMC comes up for a quick talk about how Olympics

“The international media centre for the 2010 Games will be at Robson Square,” and he says he’s been faced with how to accredit bloggers, “let me tell you that we’re not there yet,” but they are working on it. “We do want folks to register.”

January 29th 2010 the media centre will open and will have an auditorium about the size of the one we’re in. The majority of the money for the media centre will be spent on the pipe – so everyone can get information in and out as quickly as possible.

Update: Scales now moves on to the London 2012 Games and introduces Andy who is a professor in ethic and emerging technologies at the University of the West of Scotland. He discusses ambush media and marketing ie. billboards that are not sponsored by Olympic sponsors are left empty. As a side note, I think Seattle’s Best Coffee has the rights for 2010 so Starbucks shops near venues such as Whistler Village will have to cover their signs — don’t quote me on this but I believe this is one of Andy’s points. Sort of like how GM Place will now be Canada Hockey Place for two weeks in 2010.

Ambush media consists of things like “reversing the direction of interrogation towards traditional media and then broadcasting the results often before traditional media.” I just found this presentation on Slideshare, which contains more information:

Andy says that in the short term social media can make a bigger impact than the traditional outlets. He also discusses branding and brand protection ie. the London 2012 logo being used for a Facebook group. “The Games time is remarkably different than the years before it, leading up to it.”

Update: DaveO is up next talking about his experience living in Japan in the pre-Nagano times as well as his time in Utah for the Salt Lake City Winter Games, catching 28 events in 13 days.

Don Cherry in Salt Lake City wearing Dave’s hat: Dave on Flickr

Dave’s coverage was a marathon of photos and video, he was able to catch moments and “microcosms of events” that were taking place and not getting covered ie. the first Olympian from Nepal at the Winter Games. He also describes heading to an Olympic media briefing and being immediately told, “the protesters are over there across the street.” Dave said it sucked because “we’re not journalist-y enough to hang out with the journalists and we’re not protest-y enough to hang out with the protesters.” He says “we’re not here to live stream the women’s figure skating in prime time,” that’s not the idea. “We own as much of the culture about the olympics as the IOC does,” says Dave. “People are coming and i plan to welcome them and make cool stuff.”

world. Update: “Every host nation has the responsibility to push the boundaries of one aspect of the Games,” says Debbi who is up last on the panel. “When the handover happened from Beijing to London they opened a Flickr channel although it wasn’t open to users yet, there was simply a chat.” She says there’s a willingness to bring it into the centre but they’re also discussing if that’s appropriate and “if that can exist in a parallel universe”.

When the handover happened from Beijing to London they opened a Flickr channel although it wasn’t open to users yet, there was simply a chat. “I don’t want to put four years into something that no one wants to ever get to hear about.” She will be working with the ANDFestival, check it out for more details.

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