behind the scenes: how i find the information

Misha, you just Google everything, right?

Nope. Google is a search engine, yes. If you need to search the internet, you go to Google, right? Not always. For this blog, when I submit a query of Tessa+Scott or Virtue+Moir, I get results but those results aren't great so I don't depend on Google for this blog's content. I don't use Google for images, though Google has Google Images. I go to Youtube to find videos. I don't use Google Videos. The content you find on my blog is hard to find on Google, if you can find it at all, and it'll be mixed in with a bunch of irrelevant things. For articles, I find a good range of articles in Google News. Or I used to. I find it weird now. Anyway, even a it's best, Google never gives me Russian articles, which are important. Google is always trying to be smarter and customize my search results. It knows I'm in Toronto so it literally focuses me on Toronto news or Canadian news. True, if I search for restaurants, I'm in Toronto so I don't want results from Vancouver. So my search results actually look different than yours, even if we search for the same key word. But it's not always useful to me as a blogger.

So, Misha, how do you get content?
From fans.

Whether you realize it or not, or realize how deep it goes, this is a collaborative effort and it has to be. And if that's new to you, then what's below is a lesson on social media research ...

I keep track of virtually every social media hub of Tessa and Scott news. One person finds a Russian interview because they're in Moscow and they bring it to fsu, translating it. I take it (both article and translation) and archive it. Someone finds a photo gallery from Finlandia and they bring it to fanforum. Many people do this with various galleries. Someone likes them, keeps track of the links then sends them to me. I take those links and code them. A photographer posts his links to his galleries for Skate Canada on fanforum and I keep track of that and code those links. Another photographer does that at fsu with her photos and I do the same thing. I always check the social media sites before I search Google so I actually find that others have found article links before I get a chance to search for them. I just code those links.

A poster reads a tweet that Scott has a radio interview the next day so she sends me a pm at fsu and I take that tweet and figure out when it happens, how it's supposed to happen and whether there'll be a podcast after that we can all enjoy. I'm on twitter and see Tessa and Scott fans retweet a mesage from Jean-Marc Généreux that he's working with Tessa and Scott, breaking the news. I retweet it to my followers and review his tweets to see if there are any more news. I retweet the photos he posts and see the fans engage with him. When I have enough info, I take it to fsu and break the news there. I found out that Tessa and Scott had chosen "Stay" for their exhibition and learned about their blog post on Stars on Ice because of another tweet.

Get where this is going?

So I'm not using a specific search engine, where I type in Virtue+Moir and all the content for the blog shows up. No, it's very labour intensive and is only possible because I know the landscape very, very well. And because I'm willing to participate actively on a constant basis and get my hands dirty so to speak. I've read thousands of posts and tweets just to keep up with the content. I constantly think about how I can milk every ounce of Tessa and Scott information from regular search engines, using a different types of customized searches ... I do all of this to maintain this blog and give value: to make it a phenomenal resource that you can trust. It has basically everything over the past two seasons. The Olympic season will generate a lot of information and I'll have to wade through it all, pretty much.

If I had to physically find every link, I'd find a lot of content. But because I use social media in a very grand scale, I get access to an exponential amount of information. I can only do so much as one person. Individually, we have merely pieces of news. One article here. One photo shoot there. Collectively, we cover it all. Individually, we work in areas that come normally to us so it never feels like a lot of work. We all pool information that we simply find and together, we make it happen in a very natural way. So I connect with 50 fans over various social media platforms and they have access to other forums and sites, accessing even 50 more fans each. And those fans have access to more fans, contacts and info. The end result is a lot of information but it's curated information. We all know that, in general, we're inundated with information overload with social media, but if you use it right, you'll find ways to filter the information and get it delivered straight to one simple place. That's what a twitter feed does. That's what forums do. That's what happens at the backend of Tumblr. Etc. Right now, hundreds of Tessa and Scott experts sort through a vast amount of general figure skating information and they filter it, curate it and share the relevant stuff with the fan community and eventually it makes its way to me. I put down my glass of water, flex my fingers and get to work. I still have a lot of info to work with for the blog, but it's all awesome and it's ridiculously comprehensive and extensive. Maybe that explains why this blog is inherently a better resource for information about Tessa and Scott than the official website or even Google. And that's the power of social media used well. I think it's pretty cool.

Is it a lot of work?
It obviously is.
The better question is, when does it actually feel like work?

Remember, I'm looking at everything Tessa and Scott over all the social media sites anyway, during the regular season. When I'm having fun and just being a fan, I simply wear an extra hat and take the extra time to record links + I handle social media for companies professionally. I'm a writer and a poet. I have an eye for graphic design. I am a trained editor. I've been a professional researcher. Media monitoring is an actual job and I've done it, coming in before everyone else to read every newspaper that matters and track online data for the day before. Then I prepared reports and sent it to executives. Also, I've been a blogger on Blogger long before I started this blog. I'm very comfortable with this platform and the concept of blogging ... so the actual work to maintain the blog feels like a second nature + when I love it, time flies and it's great fun

But when I can't take a break and I feel like one, then it feels like hard work. I could take a break, but if I miss important news then this blog ceases to be a resource. And it's hard work to go backwards through social media. It's actually easier to do it as it happens. So to keep this blog up to date, the work is endless. The off-season is especially hard because everything is so random. Plus, I still need to keep track of the social media landscape to keep track of issues, concerns, hopes and expectations. I need to have a context to understand all this information. I can't ignore the community for four months and then jump back in and expect to be as effective as I am when I'm observing and participating daily. So there really isn't an off season for me, even if I don't publish posts regularly.

Anyway, that's a basic tour about what it takes to pull the content for this blog. I hope that it puts some perspective on the quality of information that you'll find here. I'd also like to again thank all my fellow fans across the social media platforms who find and share. Without you, this blog wouldn't be possible or viable. With you, it's become a tremendous resource for us to enjoy and use.

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