Yochai Benkler – Author of Penguin and the Leviathan
Corey Sznajder of The Shutdown Line is seeking funding for a project that will collect very unique hockey data.
Here’s a short description of the All Three Zones Tracking Project:
I am tracking zone entries & exits for every game of the 2013-14 NHL season and making the data available publicly through either an e-book or an online database. What I end up doing will depend on how much money is raised through this. In addition to this season, I may also track previous years and include playoff data.
If you’re at all interested in supporting Corey, follow this link.
A couple things to note:
- Corey is going to manually collect data that isn’t available anywhere else. It’ll be interesting to see how others will use it to develop new ideas and information.
- It’ll also be interesting to see what other projects focussed on hockey analytics and data collection could pop up that will utilze crowdfunding/crowdsourcing.
- Even if you’re not into analytics or you don’t think you’ll use the data collected by Corey, knowledge and information about the game will grow because of this project. Fans/bloggers will use this data to create new ideas and add to the current discourse that surrounds the game.
Hockey Fans and the Leviathan – The SuperFan
In case you missed it, the Communications and Technology graduate program at the University of Alberta hosted a public lecture on hockey analytics this afternoon in Edmonton.
Link to full lecture on Livestream
Event details including speaker bios
We had a great turnout in the classroom with people of various backgrounds in attendance. Along with hockey fans, there were members of the U of A faculty, students, bloggers and even employees of the Edmonton Oilers in the classroom.
I want to thank Michael Parkatti for his in-depth presentation of hockey analytics. Michael’s contributions to the field of hockey analytics have been extremely valuable and he continues to track game stats on his blog, Boys on the Bus. I really hope people left the session with not only a better understanding of hockey analytics, but also an appreciation for the work fans have done online.
My main motivation for putting this session together was to promote the field of hockey analytics and really showcase the kind of work hockey fans are doing online. Hockey analytics is still many years behind other sports in terms of tracking and collecting data. But there really is a lot of potential for continued growth and development of hockey information.
With the recent announcement that Google will soon release its wearable, augmented reality glasses, there has been a lot of discussion about how the technology can be used.
What’s most intriguing to me is how these wearable devices can be used in professional hockey. I’ve come up with three uses.
- Professional hockey teams could use the device to send real-time information to players throughout the game. This could include who is on the ice with them, what play to run or where to place the puck.
- Coaches could use the data collected by these devices and apply them to their strategies for each game.
- Those outside the game, such as fans, hockey analysts, sports journalists or league officials could use the data collected to do their own analysis.
These are all just random ideas, so until the limitations of the device are shared, we can dare to dream. I’d be interested to hear what others think of using Google Glass in professional sports.
More information about Google Glass can be found here.
Without a doubt, a tension exists between hockey bloggers and those who work as members of the mainstream media (MSM). The lines that separate the two groups have blurred as both fans and those with official press passes to cover the game interact and participate online. Communication tools and software have become more readily available and easier to use, allowing anyone with a basic understanding of the technology, and an interest in the game, to participate online.
In the past few years, bloggers have made the jump to more mainstream platforms and we’ve also seen those with press passes, such as fomer Edmonton Journal writer Robin Brownlee, get into blogging. In his latest post for OilersNation, “Deep Thoughts XXIV: Ties that bind”, he had this to say about the current state of hockey coverage: Continue reading
Here’s the extended abstract for my final research paper entitled SuperFan 2.0 – Exploring the Produsage Qualities of Hockey Fans.
Introduction and Problem Definition
Professional sports are a billion dollar industry as fans attend live events, collect merchandise and gamble on outcomes. Information is also a major product of professional sports and has been used by sports fans to predict outcomes, participate in fantasy league contests and to interact with other fans. Past research has depicted fans as simple consumers of professional sports. Fans have various reasons to follow sports and use various technological tools to stay informed and interact with other fans. There was found to be a lack of research regarding the role hockey fans play in the creation, development and distribution of information. The advancement of technological tools, combined with the participatory culture fans operate within, has given fans more opportunities to be creators and distributors of information.
This study is designed to answer the following research question:
Based on the key principles of produsage (Bruns, 2008), can hockey fans be considered “produsers”?
This study used a qualitative content analysis to examine a single fan generated hockey blog. Content from this blog, including the homepage, options for users of the blog and blog articles, was coded using the following four key principles of produsage as a guide:
- Open Participation, Communal Evaluation – Produsage environments are open to all to get a wide array of experience and contributions.
- Fluid Heterarchy, Ad Hoc Meritocracy – Leadership within the project depends on the contribution the individual makes. Those whose contributions are valuable to the project will elevate their status within the community.
- Unfinished Artefacts, Continuing Process – Rather than a finished product, the aim of produsage is to evolve and continuously improve the shared content within a community.
- Common Property, Individual Rewards – Individuals working within a produsage environment are motivated by their ability to contribute to a communal purpose. Produsage environments ensure that the shared content will not be exploited and will remain available to those who contribute to the project.
Findings are based on the activity of hockey fans on the selected blog. These findings are then categorized by produsage principle and reviewed to ensure reliability and validity.
Based on a review of one hockey blog and its users, hockey fans can be considered produsers. Hockey fans who engage with the game through blogging meet the four key characteristics of produsage. Fan activity has changed the traditional production-consumption model as fans are now taking on a greater role in producing content. The blog articles and corresponding comments function as an example of a fan community sharing content and developing information within a participatory culture.
The research question is addressed by comparing the findings of the content analysis to the four key principles of produsage. How professional sports leagues such as the National Hockey League can engage with their fans in a produsage environment is discussed. The weaknesses of the study, as well as areas for further research are also addressed.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Data analytics is a collaborative exercise with the network (both operational and social) being a critical component of any analysis. The right environment has to be in place for people to contribute, develop and share data. To transform the data into information, context is drawn from the network as individuals apply their backgrounds, experiences and ideas to push the development of a concept. Once the data transforms into information (and later knowledge), the network will distribute the information to those who can use it and develop it further.The importance of collaboration was highlighted at the Analytics, Big Data and the Cloud conference, which presented various topics related to data analytics such as health, productivity and community. One session of personal, and academic interest, was related to professional sports. A description of the session: Continue reading
A few examples of mashups involving the game of hockey. Professional sports aren’t just events fans attend for entertainment. Instead, they become engrained in the culture surrounding fans.
Hockey and Religion
A church in Montreal took out an ad in a local newspaper encouraging fans to pray for a playoff spot for the Montreal Canadiens (via The Star).
Through different tools and applications, the space between fans and professional athletes has diminished significantly. The conduit between the two parties has been removed as social media replaces traditional media outlets as information distribution platforms. A new relationship exists between fans and professional athletes as the rules of engagement are still being worked out.
Recently, a blogger compiled some statistics to examine the amount of chances a team creates when a certain defencemen are on the ice. Using both traditional hockey stats and advanced statistics, Dellow pointed out how Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney struggled in comparison to his teammates. Dellow then posted his findings on Twiiter, much to the chagrin of Whitney.
Not surprised the blog post upset Whitney. Reputation is critical for professional athletes and their market value. But the work of hockey bloggers is becoming more and more engrained in the mainstream information surrounding the game of hockey. Fans are analyzing the game and using various communication tools to create, develop and share information that reaches professional athletes and managers.
Whitney’s tweet was trying to reduce the significance of the blogger by portraying the individual as someone who’s distant from the game. I do agree that bloggers are similar to World of Warcraft and fantasy league fans as they all engage within a participatory culture. All three categories include fans who do more than just consume, but also produce new, creative content.
But it would be in Whitney’s best interest to see fans more than just passive consumers of the game. Rather than mock the blogger, Whitney would be better off either ignoring the critique completely or raise counter-arguments. The last thing he should do is mock fans who participate as contributors to the information surrounding the game.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal reported Friday that the Edmonton Oilers have employed an analytics team to assess player and team performance. Interesting timing, since a growing number of NHL teams, including the Oilers, have representatives at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this weekend in Boston. The Oilers’ analytics team is made up of “university professors, business analytics specialists and hockey bloggers with analytics expertise” (Staples, 2012). One member of the team is Bruce McCurdy, a contributor for The Copper and Blue blog, as well as the Edmonton Journal’s Cult of Hockeyblog.
It’s great to see the Oilers recognize the contributions a blogger can make to the information and knowledge surrounding professional hockey. Enough research and evidence exists that demonstrates the benefits of blogs. Allowing anyone to participate, providing less restrictions compared to other publications and allowing individuals to collaborate are just a few of the benefits. Unfortunately, the hockey club fails to acquire the full benefits of blogging communities. McCurdy can definitely be that link between the hockey team and the online community, but to really benefit from the collective intelligence of fans more would need to be done. Moving away from the traditional producer-consumer business model to one that welcomes participation and engagement from more fans would increase the chances of uncovering information and knowledge that could benefit the club. This would include the Oilers management being active, trusted participants within the community without trying to control and dominate the development. As it stands, the collective intelligence generated within blogging communities is still uncharted territory.
Yochai 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).
Related: Blog post from last year regarding the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference here.
Related: Blog post about a hockey blogger looking to crowdsource data collection for analysis here.
Benkler, Y. (2011). The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Triumph of Co-operation over Self-Interest. New York: Crown Business.
Staples, D. (2012, March 2). Oilers start up analytics group to delve into Moneypuck issues. Edmonton Journal Cult of Hockey. Retrieved March 2, 2012 from http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/03/02/oilers-start-up-analytics-group-to-delve-into-moneypuck-issues
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.