Russell Davies: London 2012 proves reflective telly and honest people exist

By Russell Davies, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 13 September 2012 08:00AM

This might get annoying.

Russell Davies: London 2012 proves reflective telly and honest people exist

I apologise, but I'm going to write about the Olympics and Paralympics again. Partly because it was so damn good and I can't get anything else into my head, and partly because this was a big, big media moment and we should all be poring over it in enormous detail, sucking every last morsel of inspiration and invention from it. We've just had the world's biggest media R&D experiment in our backyard and we should be taking careful note of the results. Here are a couple of thoughts that struck me.

There is something real, interesting and potent in "ambient TV" or "slow TV". We've discussed it before - things like the camera stuck on the front of a train crossing Siberia - but it started to really make sense to me during the long days of having the Olympics and Paralympics on in the background. An abundance of TV - cameras pointing at everything and no "attentional priorities" make things different in the same way the web's abundance of connections makes things different. Not everything has to be a highlight, not everything has to be montaged. There's value in the quiet glimpse behind the scenes, watching an athlete adjusting their blocks, watching a javelin trundle back to the thrower, watching a crowd yawning and stretching.

Possibly not the value you would need to support all that massive TV infrastructure, but it's not nothing. It's worth thinking about. TV doesn't all have to be "lean forward" and radio has done some great things with that kind of attention - some great creative things and some effective commercial things. If we only think of TV as the big production value stuff, the shiny floors and expensive scripts, then we're probably doomed just to stretch it more thinly over more channels. But if we can rethink what it means, make it quieter, more reflective, more observational, less needy, then there might be other interesting opportunities.

And remember user-created content? How about crowdsourcing? Remember how we all agreed it was rubbish and never produced anything of value? LOCOG has just proved us wrong. It crowdsourced 70,000 volunteers who, many people felt, were the best bit of the whole thing. And it wasn't about newfangled apps or challenging their creativity or even about the chance to win a prize. It was about the chance to participate and contribute to something memorable and important. I suspect the most important thing to note here was the honesty involved - there was no bait-and-switch with the volunteers, LOCOG was very clear that lots of them weren't going to do anything particularly fun. But it worked and the honesty and the spirit of the thing translated into something powerful.

Lots to examine, lots to think about.

russell@russelldavies.com

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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