Infovegan

InfoVegan.com

Came across an insightful blog via Twitter recently called Infovegan.com. Clay Johnson talks about overconsumption of information and makes parallels to overeating and obesity. I talked about information overload a while back, which ties in nicely with some of the pointers this site provides.

I think sports fans can appreciate this. There is a tonne of information available regarding teams, players, games, pre-gama analysis, post-game analysis, free agency, the draft, training camp, more game analysis, trade deadline, all-star selection, Olympics selection, Olympics analysis, more game analysis, rumors, speculation and commentary. And more game analysis. All of this is over different media such as television, radio, websites, blogs, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, message boards and mobile applications.

I’ll admit to following all of this information using different mediums.

Some advice from the site:

Information consumption also has a consumption chain, just like food does. Most news, for instance, comes from a set of facts on the ground, that get processed, and processed and processed again before it ends up on your television set boiled down into chunks for you to consume. But it also gets filled with additives— expert opinion, analysis, visualizations, you name it— before it gets to you. If this was food, a vegan would want none of it, vegans would prefer only natural products like juices you can make yourself with juicers from the juicing daily site. They’d head straight to the data, to the source, to the facts, and try and get as much of that additive business out of their way.

Creativity

Henry Jenkins interviewed David Gauntlett, author of Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of Creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Full interview can be found here.

Regarding the importance of the internet to creativity:

Having easy access to people who share their passions means that individuals can be inspired by each other’s work and ideas – which can lead to a positive spiral of people doing better and better things and inspiring more and more activity by others. This could happen before the internet, in clubs and societies, but it would tend to be slower, and the inspiring inputs would most likely be fewer, and less diverse.

NHL Needs to Provide More Data

It would be in the best interest of the NHL to begin generating and providing more advanced data for fans to work with.

The amount of hockey statistics has come a long way. Along with goals, assists, points and penalties, the league now provides even greater details, breaking down results by period, by division, arena, etc.

Fans have demonstrated a high demand of statistics which are used in debates with other fans, their own blogs/commentary, fantasy leagues and gambling. Some have even used statistics to create visual representation of the game. For example, TimeOnIce (ex. game number 30311) shows which players were playing with and against  to give fans an idea of who the coaches tried to match up.

To really stay relevant and remain a valuable source for information, the NHL needs to join the community of fans who use stats regularly for their own purposes. Two things need to be done:

1. Expand the amount of data being captured. For example, tracking player mistakes, similar to what the Cult of Hockey does, could be done. For an example of advanced hockey analytics, see BehindTheNet.

2. Make the data easy to work with and share. Provide the statistics, but also tutorials on what it is and how to use and share it. Anyone with basic computer skills should be able to learn some export and embedding functions to use the information on their blogs.

The object of these statistics should be to encourage fans to do something with it. Hockey fans are more than just consumers. Blogs and fan videos demonstrate the creativity of a community passionate about their sport. Sport fantasy social clubs show us that fans are involved and committed. Some even bet on sports! Look at this, CompareTheBets’ List of Promo Codes. From that, we can all deduce that lots of people do it!  It’s also imperative to reach out to new fans and teach them about the game. The best way learn is to be active and engaged with the material available.

If the NHL doesn’t provide the content fans need to create their own material, it won’t matter. Fans will find a way to get things done. The league can either be a part of the community’s movement towards active fandom or a spectator of creative content.

Social Media and the Vancouver Riot

Source: Vancouver Sun

After losing to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, people took to the streets of Vancouver and began a riot. Stories and photos can be found here:

Globe and Mail

Vancouver Sun

CBC News

Mashable

BBC News

While watching the CTV News live feed, as well as seeing images on Twitter and Google Realtime, I couldn’t help but notice how many people stood around the madness and took pictures with their smart phones. One can assume that these were used to share over social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) but also to send to friends who weren’t there.

Social media tools are higly personable. In an attempt to capture that personal experience of an event such as these post-game riots, people stood in the masses and risked their well being. To let people know that they were there, people slowed down police efforts and contributed to the escalation of violence and chaos.

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Social Media Manager in Professional Sports

Professional sports has really embraced social media to promote its product, connect with fans and release news and updates regarding teams and players. Of course there’s a trade-off to the information that they, being the league, teams, and players release online. Professional sports entities also use the online fan community to gather information about their clients and keep tabs on what’s being said and done.

Realizing how important it is to interact with fans and utilize the information available, professional sports teams want to maximixe the opportunity.

The Edmonton Oilers are looking for a manager of social media. Job description and requirements are below:

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Vancouver Canucks Fans & Punjabi Boliyan

Not a Canucks fan but appreciate sports fans and convergence culture.

After the Canucks won game 5 of the conference final against the Sharks, celebrations broke out across the west coast. Around Scott Road, where there’s a huge Punjabi population, a Canucks fan broke out into boliyan, a Punjabi folk verse to celebrate.

Boliyan are prominent around celebrations, such as weddings. Here, the fan decided to blend his culture with hockey and came out with this medley.

Translation of what he said…..

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Fan Experience of Indian Premier League Cricket

In April 2011, Sportsnet began airing live Indian Premier League cricket games. I had heard of the IPL and thought I’d give it a chance. The cricket league runs for a couple months and has rules designed to complete games faster and make the game more entertaining. Teams are made up of players from around the world, giving the league an international flair.

The first thing that stuck out to me was the high quality of production. The games were available in high-definition with a lot of detailed graphics and information during games. The camera angles gave the viewer a full perspective of the physical pitch and the players. Statictics were presented throughout, giving viewers a ton of data to work with and think about. For example, the “wagon wheel” would animate where shots have been made and what the general tendencies of players are. Games were fast paced with lots of storylines, both on and off the pitch.

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Hockey Fans and Remix Culture

The following post was for an assignment in New Media Narratives.

Topic: Remix culture is fundamentally at odds with older media institution and practises. Investigate a case study which illuminates these tensions.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A remix culture, according to Lawrence Lessig, is one where “people participate in the creation and the re-creation of their culture” (Lessig, 2007). It is one where people can use an existing artifact to create something new and unique. Lessig breaks down culture into two categories: read/write culture and read/only culture. This latter culture is one where “creativity [is] consumed but the consumer is not a creator” (Lessig, 2007). A read/write culture is described as being a symbol of individual freedom and personal expression (Lessig, 2005) while a read/only culture “is top-down…where the vocal chords of the millions have been lost” (Lessig, 2007). With the increase in digitization of original work such as art, music and ideas, the remix culture impacts both the creators as well as the consumers.

Source: banksy.co.uk

Examples of remixed work include music sampling, anime fan art and serviceware mashups (Lankshera & Knobel, 2007). People are able to “mashup” (Fitzgerald & O’Brien, 2006) original content with their own alterations and share it as their own. For instance, street artist Banksy uses structures and buildings from around the world as his canvass to express his thoughts and messages (“Banksy – Outdoors”, n.d.). This could be considered vandalism but the art work has gained acceptance and has even led to a film entry at the Sundance Film Festival (Horn & Lee, 2010).

With the cost of computers reducing and image editing software becoming easier to use, photoshopping has become a popular remixing tool for political statements and individual expression. The act of splicing images from different sources together to create a new message and content on the web reflects the remix culture Lessig (2007) refers to. Because of the freedom remix culture demands, it is fundamentally at odds with older media institutions and practices. As demonstrated by photoshopping, the read/write culture does not conform to established and traditional methods of copyright laws, intellectual property rights and publication methods.

CASE STUDY: OILERSNATION PHOTOSHOP CONTEST

OilersNation, a fan website, recently hosted a photoshop contest that invited readers to submit their edited images inspired by the Edmonton Oilers. Original narratives and themes from movies, television shows and advertising are used with Oiler-related images to create new content. Fans expressed their feelings and thoughts regarding the Oilers season, team managements decisions as well as optimism and support for the clubs future. Based on the comments visitors left on the site, one entry was selected to win a prize.

Photoshopping requires some knowledge and experience with the image editing software as well as the intended audience. Editors had to seamlessly mesh hockey images with familiar, pop culture, items so that an explanation was not required. Contest entrants were sharing their works with a hockey fan community, a niche audience, that had to understand their message easily.

The desire of fans to create new content using copyrighted material such as player images and movie posters is a result of the remix culture that exists today. But as this case study demonstrates, there is a tension between the remix culture that encourages the expression of fans and the read/only practices of traditional media institutions.

COPYRIGHT ISSUES

Source: OilersNation.com

Since the images used by fans in the photoshop contest are not owned by them, fans are technically using the images illegally. The photos of the players are owned by the team, private owners or broadcast mediums such as television networks or websites. But since they are available on the Internet, a medium that supports a remix culture, fans are able to copy, save, edit and share the images.

Original images from movies and television shows are valuable to its owners since they took time, resources and capital to create. Yet, franchises such as Star Wars or Bob the Builder do not appear to have received any reimbursement for the images that were used. But in order for fans to express themselves, they need access to these copyrighted images.

The read/only culture that original material owners demand is protected by copyright laws. As Lessig (2007) states, “By default, read/write use violates copyright law. Read/write culture is thus presumptively illegal”. Lessig urges that government legislation must find a balance that allows for creativity but also compensate artists (Lessig & Schlesinger, 2008). In 2001, Creative Commons (Zittrain, 2009) was established to give creators the ability to copyright their material but also allow for certain uses of their work. Their goal is to allow ones “creative, educational, and scientific content [to be] instantly more compatible with the full potential of the internet” (“About – Creative Commons”, n.d.). It remains to be seen if this organization can bridge the ideological differences, regarding copyright issues, between read/write and read/only culture.

MESSAGE CONTROL

Source: OilersNation.com

When an individual or organization creates content, it is for their own purposes and objectives. For instance, when a movie is set for release to theatres, images from the film are used for movie posters and advertising. Theses images and their intended messages are controlled by the original artists. Investments are made into the original material in the hopes that it will generate revenue for them. Since remix culture allows anyone to use original content to create something new, tension arises between it and the traditional method of content creation and control.

The fans who photoshopped images are using content that was meant for a different purpose. Images of hockey players were not intended to be mashed with a Star Wars poster or to be mocked. Professional sports, being a business, must carefully invest in the creation of original work to generate revenue. Teams are accountable to investors, a board of governors and corporate sponsors. The messages they create must adhere to the goals of their organization, with external stakeholders in mind. When a fan remixes the original content to create a message that does not represent the organization, legal action may be sought for misrepresentation.

Instead of simply consuming the message an organization such as the Edmonton Oilers create, fans are utilizing social media, or web 2.0. applications (O’Reilly, 2005), to create and share their own messages. The barriers to participate and get things done, according to Shirky (2008), have dropped, allowing fans to participate in the creation and control of content. Social media applications such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter provide a voice to fans, making them a source of information; information that traditionally is under the control of the original creators.

AUDIENCE VS COMMUNITY

Source: OilersNation.com

The OilersNation photoshop contest demonstrates the evolution of the traditional audience into more of an active community. Instead of being a part of the targeted audience, fans have connected with one another to form a community, which is vital in a remix culture. Without a community to work with and to create content for, there is little motivation for fans to express their thoughts and creativity.

According to Mason (1999), it is the uncertainty of games and player performance that professional sports sells to its audience. Fans in turn buy tickets to events and purchase merchandise. Fans have also demonstrated their desire to not only consume, but to actually do something with the product sold to them by professional sports. Examples include fantasy league pools, where fans select players at the start of the season and collect points to compete with other fans. Phone applications such as Pre Play Sports (“Pre-Play Sports”, n.d.) allow fans to predict events during a live football game and compete with others. Fans have also demonstrated their creative and collaborative abilities by taking the statistics generated by the league and developing their own methods of tracking team and player performance (Staples, 2008). These fans are conducting, what Bruns (2008) describes as, “produsage”, which is the “collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement” (p. 15).

The ideologies and characteristics of this participatory culture (Jenkins, 2008) are in stark contrast to those envisioned by creators of original work. The hockey fan community and its remix culture have a different approach to creating content than the read/only audience the Edmonton Oilers may view them as. This leads to tension since the professional sports teams and leagues cannot control how their property is used within this community. It is difficult for them to determine who is using their material and for what purposes. However, In response to the evolution of audiences becoming communities, the Oilers have begun interacting with fans using different social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. The team can be a part of the fan network, rather than remain as outsiders.

SUMMARY

As demonstrated by the OilersNation photoshop contest, a remix culture is fundamentally at odds with traditional media institutions and practices. Copyright issues, message control and the evolution of audiences to active communities demonstrates the ideological differences between remixers and original creators of work. In the future, the way content and its message is controlled over new mediums requires the involvement of the read/write and read/only culture. A balance must be found to protect the work of original creators, but also provide people the freedom and opportunity to become engaged with their culture.

SOURCES

About – Creative Commons (n.d.). Retrieved from http://creativecommons.org/about. (2011, March 31).

Banksy Outdoors (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.banksy.co.uk/outdoors/outvarious/horizontal_1.htm. (2011, March 31).

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

Brustein, J. (2011, March 11). A Better Way to Watch Sports. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/weekinreview/13watch.html. (2011, March 25).

Gretz, W. (2011, March 11). Photoshop contest entries: updated. Retrieved from http://oilersnation.com/2011/3/11/photoshop-contest-entries. (2011, March 12).

Horn, J. & Lee, C. (2010, January 24). Sundance 2010: Banksy rocks festival with ‘Gift Shop’. LA Times. Retrieved from http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2010/01/sundance-2010-banksy.html. (2011, March 31).

Jenkins, H. (2006). Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York: New York University Press.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2007, May). Digital Remix: The Art and Craft of Endless Hybridization. Keynote presented to the International Reading Association Pre-Conference Institute “Using Technology to Develop and Extend the Boundaries of
Literacy”. Retrieved from http://extendboundariesofliteracy.pbworks.com/f/remix.pdf. (2011, March 28).

Lessig, L. (2005). The people own ideas!. Technology Review, 108 (6). Pp. 46-53.

Lessig, L. (2007, November). Larry Lessig: On laws that choke creativity [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html. (2011, March 30).

Lessig, L. & Schlesinger, R. & (2008). Don’t Make Kids Online Crooks. U.S. News & World Report, 145 (14).

Mason, D.S. (1999). What is the sports product and who buys it? The marketing of professional sports leagues. European Journal of Marketing, 33 (3/4). Pp. 402-418.

Fitzgerald, B & O’Brien, D. (2006). Mashups, remixes and copyright law. Internet Law Bulletin 9(2):pp. 17-19. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/4239/1/4239.pdf. (2011, March 30).

O’Reilly, Tim. (2005). “What is Web 2.0?”. Retrieved from: http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html. (2011, March 30).

Pre-Play Sports (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.preplaysports.com/the-app. (2011, March 31).

Rheingold, H. (2002). Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books.

Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody. New York: Penguin Press.

Staples, D. (2008, October 14). Frequently Asked Questions About True Plus/Minus [Web log]. Retrieved from http://communities.canada.com/edmontonjournal/blogs/hockey/archive/2008/10/14/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-errors-stat.aspx. (2011, March 31).

Zittrain, J. (2009). How to end the copyright wars. Nature, 457 (7227). Pp. 264-265.

Rod Phillips

Source: Edmonton Journal

Oilers play-by-play man Rod Phillips officially retired last night. The Oilers honored him for his 37 years behind the mic with a special pre-game ceremony and congratulatory gifts.

The amount of attention and accolades Philips has received is for good reason. For so long he was the voice of the Oilers. TV commentators came and went, since the Oilers broadcasted their games across different networks, so there never was an attachment to a single individual on television. No other play-by-play man, aside from Phillips, could be considered “our” guy.

To me, Phillips was that narrator whose voice echoed the game. The game itself has so much going on, but you begin to rely on his judgment and interpretation of the events. After getting used to his tendencies and phrases, it becomes hard to imagine the game without him.

I think the attachment fans have developed with Phillips is because the narrative of the game is so important. Our experience, interpretation and understanding of the game is through narration. Phillips told a story each game to keep listeners informed and entertained. He never did anything that made him unique or irreplaceable. Yet he remained a highly influential person for fans because of his storytelling abilities.

Edmonton Oilers Legacy – Rod Phillips. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2011 from http://www.oilersheritage.com/legacy/contributions_announcers_rodphillips.html

MacKinnon, J. (2011, March 30). The Voice Part of Oilers History. Edmonton Journal. Retrieved from http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/John+MacKinnon+Voice+part+Oilers+history/4526619/story.html?cid=megadrop_story

McCurdy, B. (2011, March 29). Rod’s Retirement Roast: Fans’ Roundtable. The Copper and Blue. Retrieved from http://www.coppernblue.com/2010/6/10/1492529/rods-retirement-roast-fans.