Opinion Tech/Web Travel

What does the internet think of the 2010 Olympics?

Featured Editorial in Today’s Province.

Maybe I’m biased because I’m a proud Vancouverite and ex-figure skater, but this Winter Olympics feels immense to me. I feel massive amounts of pride and nervous tension, as I hold my breath for the next 17 days. But, while I was throughly weeping watching Clara Hughes’ teary eyes as she lead the Canadian team into the stadium, the internet shrugged, said “meh” and asked, “what’s happening on YouTube?”

The 2010 organizers are vocal about being the first Olympics to have a “Global Social Media” campaign, but they are still miles away from connecting to heartbeat of the internet and engaging with the masses of apathetic, web-addicted cynics like, well, me.

Comments of Twitter directly following the Opening ceremonies ranged from the inquisitive, “Dude, what happened with the torch?? #torchfail  to the whining, “How hard would it have been for Gretzky to shoot a flaming puck into the cauldron?” to the bitter, “Lol @Canada. Thanks for showing up how to NOT do Olympics & healthcare” to the sarcastic “This just in: Olympic torch pillars being recalled by Toyota”.

There was a much more positive “Go Canada” vibe on Facebook, but then again people are generally nicer on Facebook. I think it’s the whole “if you happen to find me tagged in a drunken, embarrassing photo, please don’t forward it to my mom” silent agreement that keeps troll comments to a minimum. Most of my Canadian friends on Facebook were w00ting and my American contacts where complaining about the crappy NBC coverage of the Opening Ceremonies and giggling at their own “Blame Canada” jokes.

While I wasn’t surprised that the internet latched on to the “epic torch fail” moment, I was surprised at how little people were actually talking about the Olympics online. In fact, the Olympics only trended on Twitter for about three hours, then it was booted off in favor of #thuglife. Blame violent video games, Michael Bay movies, or Wikipedia, but the internet audience has about as much attentiveness as a flee circus. Days, weeks, and months seem to mash into one giant lol, fml, pwn or fail. At the end of one day’s “torchfail”, another “OMG rofl” moment is born somewhere else, most likely on a Japanese game show.

Perhaps it is the buzz of just living in Vancouver, footsteps away from the heart of the action, that has sold me on this Olympic Games. I’m loving every minute of 2010 excitement and even my overwhelming desire to make snide comments about the four phallic-shaped totems that slowly rose from the ground as dancers shook and shimmied around them has been squelched.

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  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Another awesome post, Lisa. There really is no place like the Interwebz… I laughed out loud at the Facebook silent agreement bit! So true. :D

    By the way, why the switch back to the old site design? My fave was the first redesign (with the blue horizontal stripes at the top). Perhaps, if you want to keep your original styling, remake the header image with your latest gadgets and a lovely new self-portrait?

    P.S. I know you’re probably working on something as I type this; just posting my thoughts. :P

  • Reply
    Winston Walker
    February 14, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Lisa, don’t underestimate the effect NBC’s HORRIBLE coverage is having in the USA. I live in Nevada, which shares the same timezone as the games, but NBC insists on tape delaying all the Major events until primetime. It really makes it hard for folks NOT to learn the winners of events, before they finally show it. NBC is using 6 networks to show the games, but only two are showing live events all day today. (2 female hockey games) The rest will be delayed on the west coast of the USA until 8pm tonite. DOH!

  • Reply
    uberVU - social comments
    February 14, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Josy_An: RT @mostlylisa: http://j.mp/92OWM8 What does the internet think of the 2010 Olympics? (my feature editorial in @theprovince today)…

  • Reply
    Dr Robert Schertzer
    February 14, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    I think it’s not that social media is failing for the olympics, it’s more likely just that Americans just don’t really care and they would be the bulk of the tweets. Opening ceremonies were watched by 23 million canadians…that’s 2/3 of every man, woman, and child. But only 33 millions Americans watched the opening ceremonies and that’s probably the peak of their viewing. That’s <1/10 people. Not sure why local media has said 3 billion people will be watching the games. That makes no sense.

    Anyway, bottom line, many canadians, some other Nordic countries care and that's about it. So, not a Twitter failure; it's actually reflecting the worldwide lack of interest in the games despite all our sacrifices in Vancouver.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    I’m disappointed in the amount you can watch on the internet. Those of us in the US who don’t have cable tv are very limited. NBC has set up some deals with cable companies so their subscribers can watch video online. But those of us without cable are left with just clips. Won’t truly be the Olympics in the age of the internet until I can watch it on the internet.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Quality article.
    It’s a shame that there are so many negative on the net who are always looking for the next Fail bandwagon to jump on.
    I can’t speak for them, but can honestly say I’m much more interested in following this one than many others in the past.
    Hoping for a nice bunch of medals for both Canada and the U.S.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Though I am from the USA, I am very happy for Canada–proud almost. The opening ceremonies were one of the best ever (loved the “whales”). Yes the “fail” torch lighting was, I am sure dissapointing but, it still looked pretty good with just three thingamajigs. Why do they have to have all the artsy fartsy stuff, just light the darn thing!

    Don’t sell your country short, Canada is shining just fine. I don’t know about “the internet”; I want to visit!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    Everyone here is pumped for the Olympics. All the canucks gathered at the only canadian pub here and watched the opening ceremonies all decked out in our canada gear. the owners (who are from alberta, crazyness) gave all the Canadians here free drinks all night.

    We wish we could be back home to bask in the glow of national pride but we will have to settle for studying our textbooks while clicking refresh on vancouver2010.com and updating our facebook status with every medal.

    P.S. we just got gold in Men’s Moguls!!!! GO CANADA!!!

  • Reply
    Shannon M
    February 14, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    One has to remember that now matter how symbolic the Olympics are considered by the masses that care, coverage is based on the “almighty” dollar and the advertisement associated with it. CBS is only going to show the games when people are mostl likely to be watching. Sure the winter games are interesting, but some of us in Florida just can’t get that excited by snow. Hey don’t hate! My in-laws are Canadians!

  • Reply
    Big Mike
    February 14, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    Don’t forget the whales! My geek friends and I drooled over the projection systems that they had going. Here’s one American that thought that was cool.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    A great post Lisa. All I can say is enjoy the vibe. Enjoy the increased efficiency of amenities and transport while the games are on. Don’t worry too much about the 4th log, even Cathy Freeman had some anxious moments light the Sydney 2000 Olympic Cauldron. I haven’t watched a great deal of the games, time zone difference etc, but good on all the athletes for giving it their best shot. The saddest thing so far would be the death of the Georgian luge athlete. May he rest in peace, and his family and friends gain some comfort from the apparent worldwide outpouring of sympathy at his passing.

  • Reply
    Peter Schmidt
    February 15, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    I can understand your excitement, I just visited Vancouver today. Awesome city and the olympic atmosphere in the city was truely great, wish I had more time in the city. Sadly only had one day.
    Got to take some nice photos as well.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 5:16 AM

    I have to agree with the exposure issue that Dr Robert Schertzer mentioned. I live in the States in the DC area and lived in FL when the Summer Games happened in 08. Because of the type of sports displayed and culture I grew up in, the sports of the Summer Games appeals to me more. However, even if they did not, it seemed as if every channel was saturated with the Beijing Games and I could see anything at any time. I don’t get that sense with the Winter Games but I could be wrong. Also, I had visited Beijing a few months before the games and felt more connected with the place. In Canada, I’ve only been to Montréal, not Vancouver. So overall I feel a slight disconnect between Summer and Winter Games.

    As far as social media goes, I think you are missing something. There is a sharp divide between those who only tweet trending topics, and I promise you, they only tweet trending topics, and those who use Twitter for business and personal reasons. So I would not say that Twitter is more troll-ish or Facebook is nicer. I cannot relate to the Facebook pact as none of my friends engage in that behavior but have found Facebook (the personal profile side, not the business page side) to in fact be more trollish, though not “anonymous” trolls. I don’t think Facebook is “nicer” at all. The trending topics of Twitter reflect a very specific insulting and negative trend that is not reflected by those who do not seek to appear in the trending topics. Twitter really is a two-sided coin.

    I wish lots of success to those in the Olympics nonetheless and it’s unfortunate that people only focused on the torch issue.

  • Reply
    clarke thomas
    February 16, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    There’s a sense of pride & total immersion in the Olympics when it’s local event. (I was in China during the Summer Olympics) The primary failure affecting the US has nothing to do with Olympics or Canada. (I heard it was the same for the Summer Olympics as well)

    The US broadcasters filter & over advertise the Olympics, then provide limited access to content. (In China, there were 7 full time Olympic Channels [5 of which showed badminton nonstop]). There’s no acceptable reason, that the Olympics need to be edited for US broadcasting.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    The Swedes are going crazy over Twitter and Facebook.
    The publicnetwork SVT that is covering the games are active on both platforms and have their reporters on there. They also have 8 indevidual internet live streams. They are going all out internetstyle. Also live videostreming to mobile phones.

    I am a happy swede… (It helps that we got 2 gold medels the last 27 hours! :D )

  • Reply
    Kris Mitchell
    February 17, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Personally, as a Canuck living in the UK, I’ve been having one HELL of a time trying to find anywhere on the net that will show any of the games!

    For now I need to deal with the highlights shown on the BBC (better than nothing I suppose).

    I’m hoping to have this all sorted out before the finals where Canada takes back the gold!

    Any ideas on websites that are streaming the game to non North American countries? (and not the official 2010 website, it’s not particularly well planned out – always seems to have crashed)

    Enjoy the games!
    (and go Canada eh?)

  • Reply
    Some great posts from Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Bloggers - masey
    February 22, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    […] What does the internet think of the 2010 Olympics? […]

  • Reply
    Karin Major
    January 31, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    I think your blog is fantastic I found it on Bing. Definetely will return again! I am very exsiting about learning newthingsCheers, Lisa

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