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#media2012: Citizen Media and the Olympic Games (Presentation for DMU, 9th Feb)

On the 9th of February, I was invited to give a paper as part of the open research seminar series at De Montfort University’s Media and Communications department. It’s been a timely week to speak some more about #media2012 (following our involvement with the Podium Olympics, HE and FE conference on the 8th – more to follow) – and I was really excited to present to and (finally) meet with some of the other people from my department (I work a couple of hours a week at DMU, but I rarely get the chance to participate in school activities…)

I gave a brief introduction to the range of non-sporting themes that we can look at when assessing the Olympic Games as a topic of research. I also touched on using the games as a lens in which to assess media technological change, using ethnographic case studies from Vancouver to illustrate some of the work I intend to look at on the run up to London and in my role as a researcher and as the coordinator of media2012.

There were some interesting (and very helpful) questions from a range of perspectives – such as how we consider a media event in the digital age, as if the activities of #media2012 could be considered as a reversal of the centralised construction of Dayan and Katz’s (1994) seminal text of media events, the activities and the participation within a decentralised network is sparked by the Olympic Games as a media, but are not necessary constructed a shared narrative for a shared audience. Secondly, there were discussions around how a potential typology for those who are considered to be “citizen journalists’ – it is evidently that there is no clear definition between the ‘pure’ citizen media maker, the media activist and the role of the professional journalist. There are many shades of grey in between, especially those who may consider themselves to be professional media makers anyway. Atton’s (2002) Lastly, there was questions around methodological approach -something I tend to be encountering more frequently but I’m tackling and exploring over time.

There is an element of participate observation, but not in a convential sense as my position as a researcher moves between online and offline, is native depending on my environment and requires me to be a great deal active in the facilitation of what might happen during games time. Games time is also a key factor, where the really interesting and orginal research is being conducted at this intense, almost surreal time of city transformation. When I had to go to Vancouver, I was only 3 months into my PhD, I did not follow convention time structures and plans before I conducted my initial data collection – instead it was a process of collecting as MUCH as I could. It was a messy, fulfilling and structureless process – I let the city and the Olympics experience guide me – and I kept that process in a diary, through photos and my engagement with the communities. Sure, it was my games experience – but something I needed to do in order to put the large amounts of digital data I collected from social media into a reasonable context. On that note, much as the recent activities in Egypt (and around research into resistance, social media and activism) it is very difficult to explore and research such engagement from a distance – so would be interesting to find out who is doing something around this in this ‘embedded’ nature.

Anyway, it’s going to be fun to explore some of these ideas in #mc539 over the coming weeks – the slides from yesterday are below!