Pony

Capone “Pony” Agnihotri
(August 26, 2006 – March 27, 2015)

Sad to announce the passing of my best friend Pony this past weekend. He was loved by many and will be dearly missed.

Pony was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of skin cancer that is relatively common among dogs. His condition worsened over the past few weeks, and the medication he was on really slowed him down. (If you are looking for more knowledge on the (topic, visit at Pharma Watch Dogs)

My brother and I got him when he was a year old. We were looking for a German pinscher, and were put into contact with someone through a breeder. The original owners could not take on the responsibility, so we were glad to welcome him into our family.

He really was an amazing dog, who absolutely loved being around people. The early days were challenging as we adjusted to life with such a high energy dog. He was very attached to me and my brother, always whining if one of us weren’t around. And the obedience classes…man, those were a train wreck. But none of that mattered. He was family. And we all loved every minute with him. When I moved out and adjusted to real/family life, he moved with me. During everything, planning a wedding, going to grad school, raising kids, he was there. He was great around the kids and would’ve done anything to protect them. My wife also had a couple of bichon shihtzu’s, so he always had company.

Now that he’s gone, it’s left a big hole in our hearts. He had a huge impact on anyone he came into contact with, and we all miss him. I’m thankful for having him in my life, and for the lessons I learnt from having him around. A few that come to mind:

When you want something bad enough, you’ll get it.  German pinschers were hunting dogs, so they have this tendency to track down whatever it is that gets their attention. Pony would hear a fly somewhere in the house, and obsess over catching it. He’d get so zoned in to the fly, he wouldn’t notice anything else. And believe it or not, he would catch the damn thing (and eat it of course). It was awesome.

Everyone is worth protecting. Pony was very defensive of me and my family. If anyone new came into the house, he would be a little on edge, but would calm down if the person was calm too. And if anyone laid a hand on someone that he was protecting, he would go after them, jumping and nipping. Sometimes he would be a real jerk, and help whoever might have been trying to push me around. Fun times. If you met him even once, he would have your back.

Appreciate every last bit of nature. Pony hated winter. Dreaded it. He was not a winter dog and dragged his feet if the weather was below -5. Summer time, however, you couldn’t get him inside. And when you finally did, he would find any bit of sun coming into the house and lay in it until you took him outside again. The most quirky thing he would do is sit on the deck and stare directly at the sun with the dumbest grin on his face.

We’ll miss you Pony.

Running the Edmonton Marathon

City of Edmonton

City of Edmonton

Completed the Edmonton Marathon on August 24, 2014. Easily the hardest thing I’ve gone through physically. Did not realize how much it takes out of you and the recovery needed afterwards.

I’ve been running consistently for a year. I aim for 10-20 km a week (a few times a week, somewhere between five and ten kilometers per week). I can pretty easily run up to 15 km at a 5:30 min/km pace without any issues. Early hours work best with two young ones at home.

Leading up to the marathon, the most I’d ever ran was a half-marathon about seven years ago. In hindsight, I was extremely unprepared back then but I finished the 21km trek in just over two hours. I remember being absolutely spent after that run, so I trained enough this time to avoid getting burnt out.

Along with running over the past year, I spent one morning a week at the local track merging in sprints, jogs and body weight exercises. Just picked up a couple tips online from this website that really helped build up the legs and core. Had ACL surgery in 2006, so I had to make sure the knee and supporting muscles were feeling fine.

Going into the race, I figured a pace closer to 6 min/km get me to the finish line. Objective was to finish but to maintain a good, reasonable, pace. Doing the math, it would take me around 4:12 to finish, but I also padded it and decided that a 4:20 to 4:30 would be reasonable.

The course started in downtown, went east towards Rundle Park, then back to downtown and then looped to the west end, and then finished in downtown. A very flat course, with no hills. Caught myself a few times looking out into the river valley. Click here for a map of the route: Edmonton_Marathon_2014.

I followed along with the 4:15 pace setter to start and see how things feel. The fellow keeping the pace was very social and passed on some great advice along the way. I stuck with them for the first 29 km very comfortably and was very relieved that I made it that far without any physical issues. Unfortunately, I had to take a bathroom break and never caught up to the group after that. Right around the 33 km mark was when the discomfort kicked in, making the rest of the run extremely tough. Thankfully, I pushed through, made it to the finish line in 4:32 and felt fine, all things considered.

Quick breakdown of my run, courtesy of Sports Stats:

Distance
km
10 21.1 35 42.2
Time
hh:mm:ss
0:59:49 2:06:16 3:37:40 4:32:50
Pace
min/km
5:59 5:59 6:13 6:28

Average finish time was 4:06:51. Total of 542 participants.

Legs and back were pretty stiff after the run. Soreness stuck around for about 4 days. Took two weeks off from any physical exercise to fully recover, which I’m glad I did. Muscles felt very shaky for days, so I decided I didn’t want to risk any serious injury. Also felt pretty nauseous for a day, but some sleep and a good diet took care of that.

Thought the event and route were well planned. Really can’t say enough about the volunteers. From handling the race kit pick-ups, to the water stations, to the signs along the way, the volunteers really made the event a success.

Congrats to Arturs Bareikis for winning the Marathon. He completed the route in 2:27:46 with an average pace of 3:31 min/km. Just ridiculous. You can track his journey to the Olympics on his blog.

Related Links:

McGrath runs personal-best in Edmonton Marathon, but still finishes second – Edmonton Journal

Reporter on the Run (Series) – Otiena Ellwand of the Edmonton Journal

Edmonton man runs five marathons for his aunt – Edmonton Journal

Runners, organizers welcome Edmonton marathon downtown route change – Metro News

 

Transmedia Storytelling in a Convergence Culture

What happens when your favorite hockey team is headed for another losing season? When you get sick of following your hockey team’s on-iceperformance, the best thing to do is follow their off-ice activities. When the narrative of the game is getting old, repetitive and boring, it’s time to follow another story.

It’s time to follow the Twitter account of S Horcov.

S Horcov (@SHorcov) is the captain of the Edmonton Oilers. He has experience fighting Chechens, loves bragging about his intimate relationship with his wife Olga, and has some explicit descriptions of his teammates. A true Komrade who enjoys his life as a hockey player.

But alas, S Horcov is not real. He’s a Russian version of Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff but has become more than just a spoof account. Instead, Komrade Horcov has merged himself with the transmedia storytelling the Edmonton Oilers hockey club has used to provide content to their fans. Through the game itself, newspaper articles, their official website and social media, the Oilers create and spread narratives surrounding the team. But now, we have S Horcov who creates a fictional persona for current players who then go through all sorts of experiences and adventures.

On a recent road trip in Ottawa, for example, the Oilers kidnapped the PM.

Update: Backhand Shelf interviews @SHorcov here.

Aside from the narratives created using the Twitter account, it’s the convergence culture that draws attention. Our culture is dispersed across different platforms in the form of content, but merges together to create a unique experience for fans. But here we see the production of that content put in the hands of an outsider who quickly remixes what’s available to them. S Horcov creates characters based on the actual hockey players and uses current events (i.e., trade rumours) and the hockey schedule to extend the narrative.

Jenkins, H. (2007, March 22). Transmedia Storytelling 101. Retrieved from http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html

Hockey Gossip and Blogs

Saw a documentary called Teenage Paparazzo, which follows the adventures of a 14 year old paparazzo and explores the relationship between celebrities, paparazzis and fans. Adrian Grenier interviews different paparazzos, celebrities and academics, including Dr. Henry Jenkins of MIT, and highlights the celebrity-obsessed culture across different mediums.

In a conversation with Adrian Grenier, Dr. Jenkins had this to say regarding celebrity gossip:

Going from a society of small towns where people gossiped about the town drunk to an era of the internet, who do we choose to talk about? We can’t talk about our aunt and our uncle or the guy down the street because we don’t share that in common.

But we share you in common.

So I would say one of your jobs as a celebrity is to be the subject of gossip. When we gossip about someone, the person we’re gossiping about is actually less important than the exchange that takes place between us. We’re using that other person, the celebrity, the town whore, whatever, as a vehicle for us to sort of share values with each other to sort through central issues that are…

Ironically enough, Dr. Jenkins was interrupted by a fan asking to take a picture with Grenier.

There’s definitely a lot of similarities between those who follow celebrities and those who follow hockey. Aside from both being groups of fans who express their fandom using different outlets, they both engage in gossip.

I remarked last year at the amount of speculation that is prevalent throughout the game of hockey and what causes its generation. Dr. Jenkins’ remarks add another element to the rumor/gossip activity, which is the fan desire to exchange values and ideas with one another. The game itself is the common object to discuss and it’s through the interaction with other fans that allows them to express their own values and ideas.

This opportunity to share is what makes blogging the ideal platform for hockey fans. It’s easy to set up a blog, publish content and discuss with other fans. Blogs also offer a way to keep a running log of fan values and ideas, and have made it possible to link the content across a massive network. Values and ideas are able to develop and evolve over time, which is then used to fuel more gossip and speculation.

Grenier, A. et al. (Producers), & Grenier, A. (Director). (2010). Teenage Paparazzo [Motion picture]. United States: Reckless Productions.

The Hockey News: 100 People of Power and Influence (2012)

Source: The Hockey News

Different list, same flaws.

The Hockey News released its annual list of people with power and influence this month. I mentioned last year that the list completely ignores those with online influence and even cited one blogger who broke a major story in 2011. The good news is they included Dellow in their list this year. The bad news is, they ignored everyone else.

Here’s what Jason Kay, the editor of The Hockey News, says about the top 100 people of power and influence:

“We consult handfuls of industry experts to validate, or deny, names we have in mind and to unearth people we may not have considered. And it’s important to us that the list reflects all aspects of our world: from executives to players; from heads of industry to media; from viewers to doers” (P. 4).

First off, there isn’t much to get fired up about since the list lacks any real research. Its based on the top newsmakers of the years, plus the opinions of those within the hockey community. Secondly, Kay (2012) wants to reflect all aspects of our world, but leaves out fans and online activity. The kicker for me is the last part claiming that the list wants to include everyone “from viewers to doers” (P. 4). How about viewers that are doers? Fans that do more than just consume the product but actually do something with what’s available.

I’ll leave it to The Hockey News to come up with their lists. But until they start exploring more than newsmakers and use valid and reliable research methods, it’ll lack any credibility.

Campbell, K. (2012). 100 People of Power and Influence. The Hockey News, 65 (14), p. 16-31.

NHL Fan Experience in 2020

Source: SB Nation

Before the season began, the NHL announced that players would now have their numbers stamped on the front of their helmets. In the past, player numbers were on the back of their jerseys, their arms and behind their helmets. Some teams have even begun placing numbers on the front of their jerseys. Numbers on the front of the helmet, however, was a league-wide policy. This could be done for fans to recognize their players or perhaps, as some have noted, to get people used to having more advertising on player equipment.

Bottom line: fans now have another piece of visual information required to track and analyze games.

I think it’s a matter of time before the current technology available combined with the dedication of hockey fans influences the availability of information. I can see a fan being able to snap a picture of a game, either live at the stadium or on television/web, to retrieve data about who is on the ice, how long they were on for, and what they did with and without the puck. This data can be analyzed to produce a real-time, customizable visual diagram for fans to save and use how they see fit.

I also think it’s possible that a cooperative relationship can exist between these active fans and the NHL. For example, teams and players could use the information and knowledge generated by fans in exchange for their availability for questions before, during and after games. Instead of viewing fans as consumers of the game, the NHL should recognize the fans produsage capabilities and how a cooperative relationship that harnesses their knowledge could benefit both parties.

Hockey Fans and the Leviathan

While reading through Yochai Benkler’s “The Penguin and the Leviathan”, this crops up.

Blogger Tyler Dellow over at mc79hockey.com is looking for volunteers to track statistics from Oilers games. Instead of the standard goals and assists which are already offered by the league, Dellow proposes some advanced statistics tracking:

I divided the rink into 24 zones and recorded where each event started and ended. I did, I think, come up with some interesting stuff, even in only ten minutes. I was recording what happened with the puck when a player touched it and where he touched it.  

The collaborative effort of fans to collect and analyze data will be something to see if it can get off the ground. If there’s anyone interested in helping, you can contact Tyler (mc79hockey@gmail.com). The challenge will be to breakup the work so that it can be manageable and provide a high enough degree of satisfaction that participants come back to do more.

Once my research proposal is approved by the University of Alberta, I’ll start examining the online behavior of hockey fans. One thing I hope to uncover is how this level of fan participation isn’t surprising, considering how committed fans are to the game of hockey, the participatory culture that exists and the technology available. As I mentioned in my post NHL Needs to Provide More Data, the NHL can either start helping fans out and be part of the movement, or just watch the collective creativity take flight.

Benkler (2011) put it best:

For the commons has finally come into its own. Because in today’s knowledge economy, the most valuable resources – information and knowledge – are themselves a public good, and the best way to develop and maximize this good is through millions of networked people pooling that knowledge and working together to create new products, ideas, and solutions (pg. 153).

Benkler, Y. (2011). The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Triumph of Co-operation over Self-Interest. New York: Crown Business.

Hockey Prosumer vs Hockey Produser

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Since my research is looking at how hockey fans are produsers (Bruns, 2008), I think it’s important to compare produsage to prosumerism. Both sound similar, but are very different.

The vast majority of research that examines professional sports depict fans as consumers or prosumers. Consumers are those that consume. Prosumers, coined by Alvin Toffler in 1980,  are consumers that become active in designing and improving the products in the marketplace. Current research looks at consumption patterns of sports fans, but also how these fans are having an input on the products they consume.

Produsage, on the other hand, is “the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement” (Produsage, 2007, para.2). Produsers build on existing content to create new content. In this case, fans become unique producers unaffiliated with the main sources such as professional sports leagues and broadcast networks. Information is the content that my research examines, with blogs serving as the specific tool fans use to produse.

The availability of hockey games and related information is the result of hockey prosumers. Fans demand content be available on mobile phones and applications and the league responds.  In this case, fans don’t create anything new. They simply assist in enhancing the product.

Fans who blog on their own or in collaboration with other fans, serve as one example of produsers. They create their own content using what’s available to them, which in this case is the game of hockey. They create, maintain and share their information online and are unaffiliated with official producers. Sports fan produsage lacks research right now, and could provide insight into changing role of the hockey fan.

Bruns, A. (2009). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Produsage. (2007, December 31). Produsage: A working definition. Retrieved from http://produsage.org/node/9

Produsage. (2009, April 5). Beyond Toffler, beyond the prosumer. Retrieved from http://produsage.org/node/58

Prosumer. (2011, August 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:10, August 28, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosumer

Toffler, A. (1980). The Third Wave. USA: Bantam.

Toffler, A. (1990). Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century . USA: Bantam.

Categorizing Sports Blogs

From what I’ve seen, sports blogs can be seperated into different categories.

1. The fan blog – Exactly what it sounds like, but with no affiliation with any major sports networks or sites.

2. The MSM blog – Blogs hosted by mainstream media networks such as TSN, Sportsnet, The Score or Edmonton Journal etc. Blog writers are employees of the major network.

3. Network Blogs – This is when fan blogs join a network of other blogs. This would include SB Nation, The Nation Network. Blogs that started small and grew to join a network of other blogs.