Is ‘anyone’ watching..?

Is ‘anyone’ watching..?

Just over a year ago I wrote about a concert I’d attended in Glasgow. You’ll find links to the original posts at the foot of this post but for the purpose of this blog I’ll summarise the key points…

On 20 July 2011 I saw Iron Maiden perform at the Scottish Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC). I noted how many digital cameras (mostly phones I imagine) were capturing parts of the show in comparison to the last time I had seen Maiden play the SECC in 2006. On reflection it made me wonder how much of an event like this we actually experience if we are preoccupied with a camera? Maybe it’s best just to have the memory..?
I was keen to catch up on this mini-research project and see where we were a year on… but before I do, why bring this all up again?
Well, I was watching the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games last night and I was struck by an image. George Michael’s performance (from my perspective) was unremarkable except for one thing… as Michael approached the edge of the stage to engage with his (captive) audience, a crowd of athletes (‘caged’ in that amazing Union Jack flag of a stage) he was met by a wall of cameras! It was precisely the image I would liked to have captured at the SECC a year ago. George is obviously no stranger to a camera, but even to him this must have seemed excessive!
So, was anyone actually watching live?

“Come on… throw your phones away…!”

“No really, put them away, it’s rude!”

“It’s not the first time I’ve run away from cameras you know..!”

So, back to Iron Maiden…
Having returned home from Glasgow I was interested to know how many of the videos captured at the show had made their way to the internet. Within two hours of the band having left the stage two videos had been shared on YouTube. Potentially others had been shared through other sites, I didn’t look. Within 24 hours their were 58 videos on YouTube – almost as many as there were from a comparable show 5 years earlier (Iron Maiden, SECC, 15 December 2006).
We already know that the technology to capture images digitally is in more hands now than it was 5 years ago. It also much easier to share those captures now. YouTube had only been around for a year in 2006 so again you would expect more people to be using it in 2011 but it’s not clear that the ‘sharing’ figures are significantly higher or have even changed. One year on the balance of 2006 videos, searching YouTube with the line “Iron Maiden SECC 2006”, remains the same at around 60. Searching YouTube with the line “Iron Maiden SECC 2011” now boasts approx 100 videos. That’s only an additional 40 videos from 24hours after the gig. So between 2006 and 2011 the videos have increased by less than half whereas to my (very approximate) reckoning the number of cameras being used at the 2011 gig had multiplied by 4 or 5 times.
Now, this is hardly scientific. To form a clearer picture I would need to do the same with several different bands with different demographics with comparable gigs years apart. We could also search for comparable gigs in different parts of the country to see if gig-goers in Newcastle or Birmingham are more likely to share than folk in Glasgow. Maybe I’ll get around to doing that when I have time… however…
I’ve presented the data I have available so make of it what you will. To me it is at the very least a small indicator that while more people are capturing, only marginally more are sharing. With that in mind there are other potential factors to consider such as it’s possible that the people who were sharing in 2006 are now sharing even more content in 2011 i.e. several videos rather than just a couple. To clarify we would need to identify how many accounts were responsible for those 100 videos… 5, 10, 50?
Another factor, in this example, could also be that the fan base is likely to be older. Iron Maiden have been putting our albums since 1980. While there is a younger fan base (mostly nearest the stage!) the larger proportion of the audience were 40+
Statistics show that this age group is within the bracket more likely to have the tech necessary to do what we’re talking about. i.e. an Android/iPhone and access to wi-fi at home. What it doesn’t tell us is who is which age group is more likely to share.
But it’s interesting to see how this technology is being used. It’s also interesting to note how only 12-18 months ago 35-50 was the age bracket most likely to own a smartphone. That number appears to be dropping, as you might expect with contract upgrades, etc.
What will the next 6-12 months bring?
Finally though, here’s a picture of an elated George Michael engaging with a small crowd of athletes who’d left their mobiles at home – or maybe the batteries had just run out! 😉

Meta-Maiden (MysteryBoxes Blog, July 2011)
Meta-Maiden part 2 (MysteryBoxes blog, July 2011)

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