I came home last night from the Vancouver Meetup of Third Tuesday.
The subject was Social Media and the 2010 Olympics: The Future of Citizen Journalism.
I had been to tweetups before, but never one from this group, or one as large… (150 people RSVP’d)
It was held at the Vancouver Pub Ceilis.
The questions posed, were ones that had not occurred to me… because I had not believed I was Media. I did not apply for credentials, because I felt my reporting held no weight, and that I had no journalistic background to fall back on. (I have to believe that just because my father worked for the BBC, CKWX and the CBC… I did not inherit a typewriter and fedora as a birth right.)
However, I DID report on events at, and surrounding the Games.
Some of my pieces had an Editorial Slant.
I do not get “paid” for any posts I have put on my Blog, and I do not receive, expect or accept any “freebies”.
When I write a review of a Tea Shop, an Art Opening or a Restaurant… I pay for what I receive, and try to make notes and take pictures surreptitiously, so as not to draw attention to myself, or garner exceptional service.
Yes, I had an ad on my Blog, selling the “Beyond Blogging” book… but I bought the book myself, before I was offered the opportunity to sell it, as an affiliate.
My niece is enrolled in the Journalism Program at Kwantlen. I have a number of friends who are “accredited” media, and report on events, varying from the Provincial budget to missing children.
But I hadn’t EVER thought of myself, as Media.
I guess that I have to accept that, as we saw at the 2010 Games, Social Media IS having an effect on mainstream Media… and I am a very small part of that.
It was mentioned that CTV wasn’t going to broadcast the Paralympic Opening Ceremony on the night it happened… until Social Media caught wind, and applied pressure, and CTV changed their plans. (In BC, at least.)
I guess that is part of the larger question… but the rules are being made up, as we go along.
I know that when I write something, I take responsibility for it, and believe everything I write, to be factual, and correct. I stand behind what I say, and have taken “heat” for voicing my opinions on, amongst other things, Parliament being summarily prorogued.
The opinions on my Blog, are expressly my own, and although I don’t say that anywhere, I believe it is implied in the tagline: A brief and terrifying journey through the mind, music and musings of Bob Gray.
A media collaboration campaign to encourage social coverage of major events, highlight emerging media and provide a venue for discussing the increasing use of social media in society, particularly at events of global importance like the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver Canada.
I believe that Media is changing. Social Media is causing Mainstream Media to adapt and evolve. The way that we receive our news, and the sources of that news, are changing. The face of Media itself, is evolving.
I embrace that change, and welcome the evolution towards a grass roots Media, from what seemed to be a few massive News conglomerates, with vested interests.
However, I don’t know that I am prepared to call myself a Citizen Journalist… even though, by participating in Social Media, we all are becoming that.
I guess I’ve got some evolving of my own to do !!!
I thought I was done with writing Olympic posts… but I was wrong.
Yesterday was the culmination of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Events, and the Closing Ceremony.
The first event was the “Marathon” of the Winter Olympics, a 50 kilometre cross country ski race… an event that the European countries dominate and won.
The second event was the Gold Medal Game of Men’s Olympic Hockey… Team USA against Team Canada. Through Twitter, the good-natured trash-talking between American and Canadian Tweeps was flying back and forth pretty quickly.
The first periods of the game went Canada’s way, but with a few minutes to go, the US Team pulled their goalie, and came storming back to tie the game, and send it to overtime. In sudden-death, the play went back and forth, and both teams had chances. There could not be a closer finish.
It was only a matter of time until one team or the other got a lucky bounce, because both teams were pressing, and both goalies were keeping their teams in it. But… in the end, it turned out that Canada got the last goal, and so Canada won the Gold Medal.
In that moment, the US Team’s hopes of a Miracle On Ice replay were dashed.
In that same moment, a lot of Tweets went out, congratulating Canadians for the Team Canada win.
I have a few American acquaintances who I keep in touch with… and every one of them were gracious in their congratulations.
Some Canadian friends are currently at a US Trade Show, and they were stunned by the number of people saying, “We wish it could have been our team, but it wasn’t, so we’re glad it was you.”
A lot of Canadians have been really vocal, saying “Hockey is OUR Game…”
But we conveniently forget that Olympic Hockey has NOT been our Game. We won Gold in 1920, 1924, 1948 and 1952. FIFTY years pass, and, in 2002, on the 50th Anniversary of our last win, Canada finally won Gold again… this time in both Men’s and Women’s Hockey. Hockey is our game, but we do not own it.
Yes, we are good at it, as are many of our International friends.
Many of my American friends said yesterday, that the better Team won. Because the game was taking place on Canadian soil… we will do the Canadian thing, and thank them for their kindness and grace.
I would like to think, because the two teams were so close in skill, that it could have gone either way… but the Gods of Whimsy decided to write a fairytale ending to our beloved Vancouver Olympic Games, and Team Canada won.
Thanks to the Gods of Whimsy for allowing us to finish the Olympics smiling from ear to ear… and coast to coast.
Thanks to our American Friends for being understanding in our joyous celebrations. As Canadians, these Olympic Games have brought our country together, as we have not been together, in recent memory… and have allowed us to bond as a Nation, something that the Americans do VERY well, and we do, VERY rarely.
Thanks also to our American Friends for being our Friends… and after these Games, I hope, a little bit better friends. We are more alike, than different…
Thanks, friends !
Much has been said about the Olympic cauldron.
Even I had a blurb, not so much about the cauldron itself, but about one fine Canadian’s attempts to help folks have better pictures of the cauldron.
Earlier this week, I was contacted by another one of the Torch runners from Pitt Meadows, who let me know that on Saturday, a few Torch runners were going down to the Olympic cauldron, to take pictures.
I was in !
So it was, that at 11:30 on Saturday morning, I found myself, along with my Torch runners’ uniform and Torch, down at the Olympic cauldron.
The cauldron viewing area itself, has been improved, quite dramatically, from what it was.
It took me a few minutes to see the other Torch runners, as they were off to one side.
Eventually we collected, were interviewed for CTV and a few other TV networks, and joined by a 7 foot tall Russian character, promoting the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.
Then the fun started.
People are enamored with the Torch, and the Torch experience.
Perhaps second only to the Mapleleaf, it has become symbolic of these Games.
However, unlike the Team Canada Jerseys, and Canada Hoodies, which have become wonderfully ubiquitous, the Olympic Torch has been something which only a lucky few get to experience.
Yesterday, I got to share that experience with hundreds of people.
It started as a series of double takes from folks near by, and an incredulous “Is that a REAL Torch?” Followed by a pleading… “Would you take a picture with me?”
Over the next seven hours, I shared the Torch, and took pictures with people from all over the globe. I met people from Mexico, Germany, China, Japan, Africa, Norway, Turkey and a lot from the Vancouver area. Quite a number were unable to speak English, so I don’t know where they came from. Quite a few who recognized me from my run in Pitt Meadows. One lady, (who I hope reads this and contacts me,) was with me, as I waited to run my leg of the relay. After a while, I stopped asking where people were from, because I realized, it didn’t matter. People seemed to be universally grateful for a chance to take a picture with the Olympic Torch, and it didn’t matter where they were from.
“Why are you doing this?!?”was another question… because while folks are getting used to lining up, and the line-ups are usually pretty well organized, an ad hoc opportunity like this, without stanchions or supervisors, seemed unusual to people. My reply was “Because I wanted to share my good fortune.”
People were nervous, and felt pressured to take a picture. I tried to make sure that everyone got a chance to take a good picture — that the Olympic logo on the Torch was showing, and tried to make sure no one’s face was obstructed by the Torch. Several people got mad at me, when I told them they had turned off the camera, instead of taking a picture… Some of them came back, later, because their photos “didn’t turn out” 😳
Many times a husband waved off the offer of switching out with a spouse, to get a photo, only to show up, sheepishly, a short time later, after having thought it over !!! 😆
Finally, when it was getting dark, and harder to see, I was able to tuck the Torch away, and head home through the crowds… tired, but happy.
I’m proud that I hung in so that everyone that asked for a picture, got a chance to take one… I’m glad that I was able to share an Olympic Torch with so many people… And I’m again SO thankful for the opportunity that I got to do this.
The Olympics are about the World coming together, for a shared experience. On a very tiny level, I participated in that experience yesterday.
It is absolutely FRANTIC out there…
There are Olympics on the TV… something like 22 different options for my Cable and Online viewing, and that doesn’t even start to include the ancillary “un-official” stations, reporting the events that have already happened.
Skeleton is happening at the same time as Super G, while the Curling is going on, and I haven’t been to Heineken House yet !!!
I feel like I need to switch to decaf, but there is JUST NO TIME !!!
I don’t want to miss anything, but I also am starting to realize that it is a delicate balancing act of watching, partying and just “being”…
I have been trying to cram SO much in, that I am starting to feel pressured… and that’s not fun.
Gonna take a deep breath… have a small dram of scotch… and kick back with some (but not all) of the hundreds of hours of viewing I have taped on the PVR.
See you around Town, tomorrow !
You’ll know me… I’ll be the one in Red.
Yesterday, I observed what may have been the quintessential event, which has made my Olympic experience complete. It had nothing to do with sports. I was not running a Torch. I didn’t meet any Gold Medal Winning athlete. I wasn’t involved, at all.
There have been, as there always are, problems and glitches at these Games, and some have gained some profile. From the lack of affordable housing for residents of the Downtown East Side, to the much-maligned, malfunctioning Zamboni, these issues have been covered and drawn attention to, by folks who are better informed, and better writers than I. On this day, I wanted to see, with my own eyes, the Olympic Cauldron, and see for myself, the offensive fence, with its off-putting mesh, and see for myself, what the reality of the situation was, without spin or agenda.
From what I had been told, the Cauldron is a LONG ways away. Because of the adjacent International Broadcast Centre, there is an understandable concern for security… But at the same time, the Olympic Flame being visible only through the two inch gaps in a chain link fence, makes it tangible evidence, in a thousand photographs of parents trying to juggle kids in front of a fence, with some glimpse of flame in the distance, that these Olympics are VERY security conscious.
A not very family-friendly photo-opportunity, for a city that is supposed to be friendly, and welcoming.
I went down there, just after lunch-time, and saw that the fence was pretty far away from the Cauldron, and that families were, in fact, having difficulty getting a photo in front of the small gate of open fence that afforded the view. ***
I penguin shuffled, in turn, to the front… stuck my camera lens through the fence, zoomed in, as much as I could, and clicked away. As I walked away, my eye was caught by a different line, off to one side. A young man, standing about four feet off the ground, holding onto a metal stand with one hand, with one foot on a concrete post, and the other foot dangling in mid air. He was, in turn, reaching down, and taking the cameras that people were handing up to him. He would take photos for them, over the top of the eight foot fence, and hand the camera back, before taking the photos for the next person.
He did this for several different “groups” of tourists… and then jumped down, and, without another word to any of them, went on his way.
I think in the past while, all of us Vancouverites have tried to make an effort to help folks.
Whether with directions, taking a photo, or offering tourist suggestions… we are, by and large, I believe, trying to be a good Host City.
The guy climbing the fence, was, literally AND figuratively, head and shoulders above the crowd… and he disappeared before I could get a name or a picture… but I know the folks who you helped will be telling their friends back home… and I’m telling my readers…
You might be the most Canadian of us all !
*** Since I was there on Tuesday, VanOC has apparently made some changes, and is reportedly working on more. Regardless, the fence-guy rocks !!!
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to run a leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, through Pitt Meadows .
I was a last minute substitution, for someone who didn’t show up, so none of my family or friends were there, to see or share the joy of this great honour.
It is a memory I will cherish, for the rest of my life.
The only tinge of sadness I felt, was that my wife was not there to share the moment.
At the end of the relay, those of us on the bus, knew we had participated in a moment we would always treasure.
However, although I had taken photos with a lot of strangers, I had no camera, and had no photos to share with my family.
The Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Times came to my rescue. Apparently, Don MacLean, the Mayor of Pitt Meadows, had forwarded a post from my blog about this experience, to the editor of our local paper. A reporter, Maria Rantanen, called to interview me, and ask about my experience.
Because of the wonderful article she wrote, I have received e-mails and calls from a number of kind people who have shared their pictures.
I am overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers.
Many thanks again, to all involved.
||I’m relatively new to Blogging.
On other Blogs, I have seen Posts, where people take pictures, and let them do the talking for themselves.
I am unable to simply post pictures without adding commentary, so here we go:
For those of you who have been here before, you have probably discovered that I am JUUUUST a little excited about the Olympics, and all that the Lower Mainland has to offer.
Yesterday, I went into Downtown Vancouver again, this time on the West Coast Express, intent on exploring and trying to relay some of the opportunities for joy and fun that friends and I, encountered.
I was getting myself sorted out, in a spare office at the company where my wife works, when a Tweet came in from Stacey Robinsmith, of StaceyRobinsmith.com, saying he was at the W2 Opening, and did I want to come down ?
On my way to the temporary offices of W2, I encountered a stereotype of the Downtown East Side… A pawn shop and closed grill gate beside it.
I got to W2, just in time to hear Irwin Oostindie talk about the goals of W2, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speak, and hear a vocal group perform.
When I left there, I headed to Canada’s Northern House, and had fun with their video presentation…
On the way by, I assisted a delivery man into The Royal Canadian Mint House, and followed him — “oblivious” to the “We open on the 12th” sign. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but it will be worth a visit, THAT I can tell you!
Had lunch with my wife, and some friends, and then went to the Bay’s Olympic Super Store, where we had to line up outside for a few minutes, before the very friendly and most conciliatory security team let us in. It was just that busy — and the Olympics haven’t even started yet!
After poking around there, my friends wanted to go to the Roots store, so we headed over there. Employees from every corner of the country have been brought in to help out. I spoke with employees from Edmonton, Ottawa & Montreal, who were here to help out the Vancouver crew. Along the way, there were a number of people we helped with taking photos, and some passersby and store clerks took pictures of US!
In lineups, we met, amongst others, folks from New York, Ottawa, Russia and a poor soul who had travelled ALL the way from Richmond!!! The man from Ottawa is most excited to be here to see his friend, who will be competing in the Luge competition.
Again, I am struck by the amazing variety of Flags, Banners and Store Windows that (even if they are not an Olympic Sponsor) pay homage and reflect the joy and spirit of the Games.
This brought to a conclusion Day 2 of Downtown exploration.
I am SO looking forward to the starting of the Games and continuing to explore next week.
I got to run in the Olympic Torch Relay today.
The enormity of that statement is just now, hours later, starting to kick in.
I didn’t write an essay. I don’t work for a Sponsor. I don’t have any pull.
I got lucky.
I was helping out as a volunteer at the Pitt Meadows Olympic Torch Relay Celebration… just doing whatever needed doing… like everyone else.
It wasn’t raining, when we showed up at 6 am, and the fog was starting to dissipate… it looked like it was going to be a good day.
Little did I know how good it would be!
I was busy, like a lot of other volunteers and organizers, running here and there, doing whatever the coordinators needed doing. After a bit, I found myself in the Council Chambers, helping tie ribbons for lanyards onto the volunteer nametags.
One of the supervisors had left her Walkie Talkie on the desk, and suddenly, over it, I hear “Where’s Bob ?”
I’m alone at the check in at this point, so I stick my head around the corner of the hallway and, spying the Supervisor who’d called, asked if she was looking for me ?
This is where it all gets very hazy, as things moved VERY quickly.
“Do you want an opportunity ?”
“Sure, I’m happy to help !”
“There is a chance you may get to run in the Torch Relay…”
“……….” (Stunned silence)
“If the person doesn’t show up, in the next ten minutes, would you like to do it ?”
Words at this point cannot express the magnitude of emotions, crowding into my overwhelmed thoughts.
“Of course !” I croak.
A Torch Relay Tracksuit is thrust into my arms, and I am hustled to change, just in case.
My brain is packed with a million thoughts… How can someone NOT show up? This would be so COOL! I wish someone I knew was here to take a photo. Have to remember to smile. Why did they pick me? This can’t be happening. Hurry up, they’re waiting. It won’t matter – the person will have shown up. If the person shows up, can I buy the tracksuit? Enjoy the moment. Stop enjoying the moment, they’re waiting. How could someone NOT SHOW UP?
Five minutes later, the “just in case” waiver is filled out, signed, and the Torch Relay Bus is leaving.
The man giving me instructions is talking so quickly, and my brain is working SO slowly, that I take in NONE of what he tells me.
“Am I carrying a Torch?” I finally get a chance to ask.
“Yes, you are!” he says, as he claps me on the shoulder. “Get on the bus, we’re leaving!”
The bus ride was a humbling experience, as after check-in, my fellow passengers in turn, gave their name, shared how they got to run in the Relay, and what it meant to them to be participating. One young girl in a wheelchair had been hit by a car only two weeks earlier, and although confined to a wheelchair, and having a broken pelvis, she was determined to take the Torch on her leg of the Relay. Another was running for a family member who had passed. Another had been involved in the original Vancouver Bid process. Several had written essays. Some had spearheaded programs at their work.
I got lucky.
When it was my turn to be let off the bus, I got dropped off at the side of the road, and was soon surrounded by a crowd of people. Children and adults alike, goggle-eyed as I let them hold and pose for pictures with the unlit torch. I tried, as much as possible, to give the crowd on the sidewalk the benefit that I had been given, of holding the Olympic Torch for a moment. To share the joyous feeling of this unbelieveable honour.
I was working my way back through the crowd, when the Officials came up to me, having thought I’d gone missing, and told me it was time to get ready to start my leg of the Relay.
It was then I chuckled to myself, as I realized that although I had probably posed for over 100 pictures, I had no photo for myself… I had no camera, and no time to ask anyone to send one to me.
Soon the run was started, and once the choreography of the flame being passed from Torch to Torch was done… I started off.
A steady jog… I wasn’t prepared to rush this.
Close to the end, I slowed to a walk, as I really didn’t want it to end… but seeing the next Torch-bearer, broke back into a jog, as I could sense their excitement and anticipation.
It was over, almost before it had begun… but it was a few moments I shall treasure my whole life.
Today I got lucky. I was given a tremendous honour, priviledge and gift, by people I barely know… who I have no possibility of EVER coming close to being able to adequately say “Thank You” to… But Thank you, Lorna !!! I was humbled to be in the company of the people I met. Both those who carried the Flame on other legs, and those kind people who tend to the Torch carriers. Those people, who, despite having given the same instructions over ten thousand times, know each time, that the person isn’t listening, because their brain is screaming “I have an Olympic Torch in my hands!” and yet just keep on smiling, high fiving and woo-hooing.
Wow, did I have a good day today.
I was in Downtown Vancouver this afternoon.
I haven’t spent any time walking around downtown for years, but drive through every few months.
Very different from what I was expecting… What the Media had led me to expect through their coverage.
For me, the Olympics had lost some of their luster, under the immense burden of Negativity… Too many security cameras… What about the homeless… What about the Athletes Village… Why do we have a Battleship in the harbour…
Today, I embraced the Vancouver that I love… with people who are positive, excited, and ready to have a FANTASTIC Olympic Games.
I cannot wait for the next time I go Downtown, when I will spend more time, and take a better camera.
More than ever, I am looking forward to the Events I have bought tickets for.
I’ve bought my Team Canada jersey, to go with my red scarf and mitts. Canadian Flags are proudly displayed on my car and my House.
As I experience the joys of the coming weeks, I’m SO looking forward to sharing them with you, and sharing a wonderful sense of pride at the Games that are going on in OUR City !!!
Let’s GO !!!
This is the fine print, and what FINE print, it is.
I am a big Fan of the Olympics.
I am a bigger Fan of the city of Vancouver.
I’m just a big ol’ capital ‘F’ Fan !!!
I was hugely excited when it was announced that we got the Olympics.
We got them, and, after that, some bad stuff happened.
The Olympics are upon us. They are OUR Olympics. They are happening in OUR town. We can have a blast, or we can pout.
I am NOT going to let a bunch of nay-sayers convince me that my glass is anything but brimming !!!
On Monday, February 8th, the Olympic Torch Run will pass through Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, on the way to the Opening Ceremonies on the following Friday.
There will be celebrations held in both communities.
Maple Ridge will “go” first, with their Party running from 6 am to 9 am… (although the exact time the Torch will be arriving is still to be announced).
There will be an official ceremony at Memorial Park, with some entertainment, an Art unveiling, and refreshments.
There will also be a Pancake Breakfast at the Greg Moore Youth Centre.
After Maple Ridge, the Torch will continue to Pitt Meadows, where the party will run from 7 am to 10 am, taking place at Spirit Square, next to City Hall. Similarly, the Pitt Meadows celebration will have entertainment, a Spirit of Wood carving presentation and breakfast.
Different Torchbearers will be carrying the Torch through Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and onto the Opening Ceremonies on February 12th.
Come on out, and help light up the Town !!!