Canadians Talking Tech

The Future of Media: Vancouver Olympics and True North Media House

by Noah Bloom Posted in Media, Olympics

Next week, Kris Krug and Dave Olson will be talking True North Media House at an event in London called #media2012, and I like to think this is a big deal. True North Media House emerged in the leadup to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, as a vehicle to give a voice to the citizens walking, talking, and covering the Games — in a substantial way unlike previous Olympics. The world is changing — nearly everybody has simple means to share text and media about the world in the way they experience it, and, well, a whole lot of people do that passionately.

Morning after view of the Olympic fame on my am run to Stanley Park  #van2010 #tnmh

As it turned out, through the use of a simple hashtag (#tnmh) and keywords, from many websites and united around social networks, here was a pretty amazing experiment of what non official media can do to cover a massive localized event, like the Olympics.

At first, there was a lot of fear. The IOC was supposedly sending cease and desist letters to anyone sharing media about the Olympics, official events, and venues. Rumours were abound — the “IOC police” could enter a private residence and remove publicly-visible signage that was deemed destructive to the Olympics vision. We (as I consider myself/ourselves part of the TNMH impetus) had no idea what to expect. We urged each other to review the fine text and figure out what we could and could not do. Could we bring cameras to venues without official IOC certification? Could we publish photos? Could we say the word “Olympics”?

But this was Canada! But this was social media! But this was 2010! People felt violated. People protested — well, for whatever reason they wanted, and unfortunately often the reason was less important than the thrill of protesting.

Mens Moguls

The Games
Then the Games happened. And the C&Ds didn’t show up. And we went wild with media and words. Hats off to John Biehler, Kris Krug, Miss 604, even ourselves, NorthGeek (some of our coverage is here), AND SO MANY OTHERS for giving us the insider view on the Games and showing the world that we had a damn good time.

And then some media brands and the IOC wined and dined some of the alternative-media-elite. It was a nice gesture. It said, very gently, “we embrace the new media.” But as far as I’m concerned was a half assed, suspicious, and way overdue attempt.

Our coverage
At least, for us at NorthGeek, we often left the real equipment (SLR, tripod, video, etc) at home and went with whatever was on us — phones, Flip, WordPress, and Twitter — and left the long shots for someone else, and focused on the closeups, the insider, on-the-ground view of the Olympics. We wanted to show off Vancouver, the glory of these athletes, and that it was a fucking good time.

NorthGeek with silver medalist Jenn Heil

The legacy of TNMH
TNMH will ultimately stand as a lesson on how to make a community. We were not antagonist. We preached about being open, being fair, and being there. Did that work? Was that necessary? Weren’t there enough others being antagonistic and even violent?

In the end, the success of True North Media House was not about getting more people to use #tnmh tag. It was in empowering people to create content (who otherwise may not have) and showing a stodgy organization like the IOC to realize that the times are changing.

What’s next?
Well, let’s just keep pushing further for London 2012. Will that be in the guise of #tnmh or something else: another form, another hashtag, another group? That really doesn’t matter. It’s about the people. The power is there. As Kris Krug would say, “Use it with kindness and discretion.”

P.S. Some inspiration
Were the Games meaningful to you? Did your country’s athletes make you proud? Then consider supporting them. Sure you paid big money (or your valuable advertising eyes) to follow the Games, but these amateur athletes are heroes, and you can help them do what they were made to do. Go out and support local sports. Learn who your country’s great amateur athletes are. Go watch their races and games. And they will make your proud.

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  1. 3 Responses to “The Future of Media: Vancouver Olympics and True North Media House”

  2. By Steve on Sep 27, 2010

    “at an event in London called #media2012”

    Is there something in London too? (as well as the ANDFest in Manchester)

  3. By Noah Bloom on Sep 27, 2010

    Steve, here’s more info on #media2012:

    Or get in touch with @andymiah

    What’s your involvement with London 2012?

  4. By Steve on Sep 28, 2010

    Canadians please take note – Edmonton is in north London; Victoria is in the south-west of central London; and Manchester isn’t in London at all, but halfway to Scotland. The event covered here is taking place in Manchester.

    (And my involvement in London 2012 is debunking Olympic Myths as part of

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