These have been the social media Games. Had London won the bid for 2008 there'd have been minimal online interaction. A few early Twitter adopters muttering, some old fashioned blogging, a flurry of status updates on newly dominant Facebook. But the great majority of the UK public would only have watched, keeping their opinions to themselves, sharing nothing.
2012 has been something else. Folk sitting at home have had all sorts of ways of sharing their thoughts, on a variety of platforms, engaging in in-depth conversation about the very minutiae of performance. Those attending the Games have had even greater opportunity. Tweets sent from the touchline. Photos taken, filtered, uploaded, broadcast. Chatting to a mate on the opposite side of the stadium via Facebook asking what they thought of that last performance. Catching the Mayor on a zipwire and sharing his inconvenience with the world. A brand new commentary team has been in place, in the grandstands and back on the living room sofa.
London 2012 embraced social media at all levels, from umpteen separate Twitteraccounts to dedicated smartphone apps. Each of the four Ceremonies had its own Tumblr, if you noticed. Hell, they even managed to get nearly a million followers on Google+, which for a comatose medium is quite phenomenal. In several arenas the spectator experience included the opportunity to have your tagged tweet flashed up on the screen, occasionally even your grinning photo. I lost count of the number of spectators I saw tapping away on their phones during events sending something to somewhere. Many missed the action because they were too busy commenting on it. I genuinely believe that a significant proportion of the audience would have found certain sports relentlessly tedious had they not had their smartphones for company.
An incredible amount of digital content has been generated by the Games. Streams of witty bon mots on Facebook, a chorus of snarky observations via Twitter, and millions of photos of anything and everything for posterity's sake. And yet most of this scrolled by in a matter of minutes before being replaced by more up-to-date observations, then more, then more. This was great for getting an emotional feel for the action and an instant reaction to events. But how brief, how temporary, this stream of consciousness has been. Want to recreate the sense of awe during Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony? That's lost. Want to share the pride felt during Mo or Johnny Peacock's dash? That's long since dissipated. Social media may be of the moment, but it fades so quickly away.
Historians of the future attempting to recreate the buzz of London 2012 may find it tricky. So many conversations have already vanished, so many raw emotions mislaid, so many Instagrammed photos lost into an electronic void. If only more people still blogged in 400 words, rather than publishing in 140 characters, perhaps more of this summer's true feeling would have survived.
And that's one of the main reasons I've been writing in some depth about the Games, not just over the past few weeks but throughout the last decade, because I believe some first hand sources deserve to survive. Admittedly doing this on a potentially-transient platform like Blogger is risky, and my every word could be swept away on an executive's whim. But I thought it was worthwhile doing, for however long it lasts, to generate a local's-eye-view of the greatest show on earth.
For posterity's sake, here are links to this blog's content during the Olympic and Paralympic period. I've cut and pasted my Twitter stream during that time and pasted it elsewhere so that I can hang onto it all (because allmytweets.com might not always work). I've also archived dozens of photo albums for future perusal, so long as I keep paying Flickr a subscription else those'll vanish too.