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The Social Games

A lot has changed since Beijing four years ago. Back then the iPhone was one year old and Twitter celebrated only it’s second birthday. Unlike previous opening ceremonies, this year most of the athletes were marching with their smartphones, capturing the moment as it happens. Even the official Olympics broadcasts sometimes showed a close up of someone’s phone held up high, allowing viewers to see through it. All this footage captured by the athletes and spectators ends up straight on the social media sites for everyone to see.

Instead of getting a distilled coverage from trusted media partners many turned to social media to get the news right from the heart of the Games. It offered sometimes different perspective on events and raw and unbiased opinions. In fact Twitter saw a staggering 150 million tweets about Olympics during the Games. There’s a terrific infographic showing just how much social media changed since Beijing in 2008.

Like millions other people, I was checking Twitter for live coverage from the events. Last Saturday I’ve been to Earls Court to see woman’s volleyball bronze medal match. Despite being at the actual event I kept checking Twitter for updates. It makes a much more interesting and immersive experience, regardless of where you are. Simply watching event might be no longer enough. If anything, social media made these Games more open, made people feel like they are a part of something big.

Thanks to social media, London 2012 games are probably the most documented and talked about Games so far. It’s interesting to think how user-generated content is affecting big sporting events like Olympic Games and what challenges the organizers would face in the future. International Olympic Committee has set a very strict rules for athletes and volunteers about use of social media but it looks like it didn’t stop people form sharing anyway. At the end of the day social media will only serve good both people and the Games alike.

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