Vancouver Winter Olympic Games

Chandra Crawford – Canada’s Social Media Olympian

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Chandra-mountain

With her “Fast and Female” Twitter background and her Best Buy blog, Chandra Crawford must rank right up there as one of Canada’s social media Olympians.

Among the millions of Canadians ingesting hours of Olympic coverage in full HD is a horde of internet-addicted new media junkies, with smartphone in one hand, t.v. remote in the other, and laptop balanced on the knees, tuning into a whole other series of micro-broadcasts that peer into the Olympic extravaganza with a fresh set of eyes. Feeding that information addiction is one big digital content grow-op, an organic community of basement journalists, self-proclaimed experts, and celebrity sharers. And at the moment, with Olympic fever in full burn, is there a hotter celebrity sharer than an actual Olympic gold medalist?

One of my girls came home from school yesterday fresh from the visit to her class of a locally-based female Olympian, two-time women’s hockey gold medalist Sami Jo Small, thrilled that she had been given the opportunity to handle an actual Olympic gold medal and hear stories from the mouth of someone who actually knew how hard it was to achieve such heights. Certainly, there is nothing like meeting such an incredible role model face to face, but easily the next best thing is being able to share in an Olympian’s journey in real time online.

That’s where Chandra Crawford comes in. I’m not really into digital star-gazing, but being involved in the wonderful project that is this vancouver-games web space, I needed to familiarize myself a bit with what the social media hordes were doing online relating to the Olympics. In searching the Twitterverse for interesting Olympic content, Chandra’s feed was one of the first I came across, and definitely the most interesting.

As it happens, Chandra didn’t get a medal this time around, not advancing past the quarter-final in the Ladies’ Individual Sprint. According to CTV, “Chandra Crawford may have been the defending gold medalist in the women’s sprint event but this was never going to be her day to shine.”

I beg to differ. I think she shone very brightly indeed, and I submit that a big part of the reason I think so is down to her use of social media to allow me (and anyone else listening) the opportunity to hear her story first-hand. Thanks to this medium, I have heard her speak from a mountaintop of being “rewarded with…a refreshed connection with the mountain environment that in so many ways defines us.” I heard her rave about a band I love and speak of her excited plan to attend a concert that I’d certainly be at if I were in town at the time. I even got a quote from her that eluded those embedded members of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium:

“Whistler Olympic Park conditions… the weather there has the attention span of a fruit fly.”

The attention span of a fruit fly, indeed. Hardly anyone would argue that this perfectly appropriate turn of phrase could just as easily have been referring to conditions inside the social media fishbowl. Then again, if holding a mirror to ourselves as a community is the initial purpose of all media, then perhaps the speed at which our media converge toward that purpose is beginning to overtake the speed at which our communities are growing.

Olympic organizers love to play up the much-discussed ideal of the global village, which actually stems from a very simple concept of community. If you live in a village, a real village, where everyone knows who you really are, and there are no secrets, you know that, in the village, everyone is a part of everyone else’s life, and you are influenced most by those you know best. In other words, in the global village, the quality of those I know contributes to the quality of me.

And thanks to folks like Chandra, that means I keep getting a little better every day.

Greg Nisbet

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