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Blogathon 2009 – True North Media House

Blogathon 2009 Vancouver for Vancouver Public Space NetworkThis blog post is part of Blogathon 2009, in which I am blogging for 24 hours straight in order to raise money for the Vancouver Public Space Network, an entirely volunteer-run organization who do advocacy and education on the public realm in my home of Vancouver, British Columbia. Please consider supporting by sponsoring me with a pledge, leaving a comment or contacting me to contribute a guest post.

Dave “Uncleweed” Olson has a fascinating vision behind the role of social media during Vancouver’s coming Olympic games in February, and he calls it True North Media House. I’ve mostly been on the periphery of some of what he’s been doing, but I’ve always respected Dave’s commitment to creative expression and making of really meaningful media of all sorts, be it writing, podcasts, folk art, collage, and I bet if pressed he’d be all in there for kinesthetic performance as well.

Just now, in the middle of Vancouver’s strangest 2 hours of weather in recent memory (highlights: thunder and lightening, amazingly multi-hued sunset), Dave shared with us some of the transformative stories from his travels in previous Olympics. It’s particularly instructive and interesting, as his experience means that he’s in a particularly informed position to describe what the difference is between what has gone on at previous Olympics, and what’s planned for the ones in Vancouver.

Currently, the idea Dave has for the project is to carve out a niche for independent media in this city during the games. Dave described the other players in town, and how these groups are either hostile to making a role for social media makers, have agendas associated with particular political statements or modes of direct action, or are simply excluding everyday online storytellers for being smaller fish than they want to fry.

This is an issue of media democracy, Dave says, and while I’m the first to admit I’m low on facts, the way that he’s described it, I’m definitely inclined to agree with him. He’s also described some of the fears that the IOC are operating from. While Dave was talking, the flaming red sunset behind him, I was reminded of something I experienced yesterday that speaks to how much digital media is becoming part of our everyday practices.

Yesterday, walking our bikes home after enjoying ice cream cones at our local grocer, we noticed fire trucks down the street not far from where we live – in fact, not even two blocks. There were crowds gathering to watch the firefighters do their work, dousing a three-storey house with fire retardant, tearing out boards and moving quickly to keep the fire from spreading. With all this activity buzzing, what do we see, in this west-side, moderately affluent neighbourhood?

As I tweeted in the midst of all this, “Interesting to see the cellphone cameras, digicams, DSLRs, and iPhones come out for the neighbourhood gathering that is a local fire.” It struck me, as I stood watching the crowds mill, this has become the new default reaction when something is happening in front of you. Record it. Keep it for later. Keep it to show someone. Keep it in case someone needs to see it.

If this is what the reaction is like for Vancouverites in a local spectacle like a neighbourhood fire, something like it is guaranteed to be the case during the Olympics, what is likely for many to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Do we know what the rulebook is, when it comes to uploading our videos to show our friends overseas? Or if we want to speak critically against the way the Olympics are being carried out, without being branded a violent radical without adequate cause?

Dave had a great line, about how True North Media House is representing his home, in terms of this place and how we want it to represent our values, our tolerance for debate, diversity and difference. I’m happy to support Dave in his efforts to set the True North Media House up. His most pressing needs right now are sponsorship, facilities (in terms of space) and resources for hyperlocal media to do what they do best. I encourage you to take a look at their website and their goals, and if you’re in Vancouver, give some serious thought to where you’ll be for the three weeks, and what kind of carpet we want to roll out to the world.

One Comment

  1. I find it very telling about just how much the world has changed that there are no cell phone videos taken the morning of September 11th, 2001.

    Posted July 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

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