Get Ready to Watch the London Olympics Play Wack-A-Mole With the Internet

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The first “Twitter Olympics” start Friday. And how is that going, so far? Let’s just say the games are off to a rocky start, and we’re popping popcorn in anticipation.

As we’ve mentioned before, the International Olympic Committe rolled into town with a long list of social media rules for athletes, volunteers and anyone with a press pass. The document concluded with a warning: “The IOC will continue to monitor Olympic on-line content to ensure that the integrity of rights-holding broadcasters and sponsor rights as well as the Olympic Charter is maintained.”

So how’s that going? Well, it’s not even day one and already an Olympian has been booted from the games for offensive tweets, athletes’ complaints are going viral, and organizers are begging participants not to tweet about and therefore spoil the opening ceremony. 

Nor is Twitter their only challenge: As Deadspin reports, the organizers of the London Games somehow seem to think it’s illegal to link to their site unless you’re going to say something nice. (Trust us, that is not the case.) They’ve also banned WiFi hotspots from the games, along with heroin, skateboards and puppies. And let’s not even get started on the free speech controversy.

We therefore can’t help but wonder what’ll happen with this attempt to turn the London Eye, that skyline-dominating ferris wheel, into a giant, Twitter-driven mood ring.

The Boston Globe reports that Sosolimited, an arts and technology studio, is using sentiment analysis to create a splashy light show. The firm has developed an algorithm that takes tweets tagged with Olympic-related hashtags, evaluates them for emotion (“lame,” for example, scans as negative) and then translates them into a color, either yellow for positivity or purple for negativity. The Eye’s lights will then be adjusted accordingly:

At 9 p.m., Sosolimited’s “visual­ concert” begins. First the day’s mood is reflected on the Eye. If, for example, 63 percent of the tweets expressed positive feelings toward the Olympics, most of the Eye would be lit yellow, with the remainder of the circle being black.

For the rest of the show, where images like smiley or sad faces are flashed, a yellow hue remains.

Given the London Olympics’ rather determinedly upbeat flavor, we can’t help but wonder what happens if that whole sucker lights up purple and proceeds with 20 minutes of frowny faces. Because it looks like a couple of people are already pretty cranky:

Get Ready to Watch the London Olympics Play Wack-A-Mole With the Internet