FIFA World Cup: Social Media Roundup

11 07 2010

As previously seen in Biznology:

The 2010 World Cup is not over yet (the final will start in a couple of hours), but the results for social media are already in–the World Cup has more than lived up to its billing as the biggest social media (and even Internet) event of all time, sur[passing the 2008 election of Barack Obama as U.S. President. While you wait for the big game on Sunday, you may want to check my Social Media highlights for the major sports event in the world.

Internet Buzz

So now that the 2010 FIFA World Cup, according to CNN (via Akamai), has been declared the most popular Internet event ever, let’s look at a snapshot of Akamai’s Net Usage Index as of this writing:

Akamai Net Usage Index

Akamai Net Usage Index

The Most-Tweeted World Cup Event

The CNN article mentioned above states that, despite the popularity of the World Cup, Twitter’s single biggest moment was still “the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory against the Boston Celtics at the NBA Championship”, which “generated a record 3,085 tweets per second as the game ended”. Naturally, a few days after, a World Cup game dethroned Kobe Bryant and friends. If you guessed that it was one of the US games against Slovenia or Ghana, you were probably close, but not quite right. That honor goes, surprisingly enough, to Japan’s win over Denmark, with 3,283 tweets per second.

Cala a Boca Galvao

For several days, a Brazilian Internet meme/prank dominated the trending topics in Twitter, requesting the lead sports commentator in Brazil to shut up. Read more about it at the New York Times and watch the video prank at YouTube.

VEJA - Cala Boca Galvao

Lead weekly news magazine in Brazil (Veja)
brings the #calabocagalvao meme to center stage
(via @dystyler)

Old Media vs. New Media

Rede Globo, the largest TV network in Brazil (and arguably the third largest in the world, behind just CBS and NBC) clashed with Brazilian coach Dunga, when he curtailed their privileges in the national team coverage. A Twitter campaign (#diasemglobo, “a day without Globo TV”) was asking Brazilians to boycott the TV station during a game and switch to the competition. Who won? It depends on who you ask. Some claim that the campaign was a success and responsible for a drop in audience, while others say that it made no difference whatsoever.

#diasemglobo

Players Using Twitter

My Twitter list of World Cup Players is updated with 56 players now. You may want to give it a try and see what the players are talking about using StreamGraph. Here’s a snapshot I took last night (just use @aaronjuliuskim/worldcup2010players as the keyword):

Twitter StreamGraphs - worldcup2010players

Visualization and Social Media

There are plenty of creative visualizations created around Social Media content especially for the World Cup, like this one based on Facebook activity, courtesy of the New York Times. You’ll find a good list at Mashable.com, but the Guardian’s World Cup 2010 Twitter replay is my favorite. It shows in a stunning way the fans’ reactions via the microblog service as the action developed for each game. You can feel all the pain in my Brazilian heart when you play the Brazil vs. Netherlands game. Here’s a snapshot of the key moment of the game: Felipe Melo (who’s in Twitter, by the way) losing his cool and getting a red card.

The Guardian - BRA vs. NED Game Visualization

Check out also the US games against Slovenia and Algeria to re-live the emotions of those two thrillers.

Finally, if you are into live visualization and have an iPad, I highly suggest you to follow the final match via LivePitch. It’s still a bit raw, but it can give you a glimpse of how we may be following the next World Cup. Hopefully Brazil can do better the next time 🙂

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World Cup Fever and Social Media

9 06 2010

As previously seen at Biznology:

Fans celebrating the upcoming 2010 FIFA World ...

Image via Wikipedia

The upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa is being touted by FIFA and Twitter representatives as the event to slash all previous records in social media traffic. That’s a tall order, considering the US elections, the Beijing Olympics, the Oscars and even the Lost series finale were nothing to sneeze at in terms of frantic online real-time activity. Regardless of whether or not that bold prediction will be realized, the next 30 days of soccer madness will certainly bring a new way of experiencing the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world.

On June 11, the ball starts rolling at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, marking the first time the World Cup is held on the African continent. It’s also the first time the popular tournament will be testing the open waters of Facebook and Twitter. Zuckerberg’s social networking service opened to the general public only in September 2006, and most people had never heard about Twitter when France’s Zinadine Zidane infamously headbutted Italy’s Materazzi in the finals four years ago. Social media was already pervasive back then, but mainly in the form of blogs, wikis, podcasts and video sharing.

Thus, most of the online impressions around that play developed not instantly, but minutes, hours, and days after it happened, and they were particularly prominent in YouTube, the big social media star at the time. My favorites–but perhaps NSFW–are the Coup de Boule song and this compilation of 114 parodies of the unusual, err, interaction.

Furthermore, most of us were still passive small screen spectators of the games, with mainstream media being the intermediaries between the athletes and the public. Now, several players have their own Twitter accounts, and are already commenting on what’s going on in the last days before the kick-off. I compiled a Twitter list of players—including some of the stars left out–in case you want to take a peek at their thoughts before and during the competition. Some teams, such as England and Spain, already banned the use of Twitter and Facebook, but others like Brazil and The Netherlands are ok with it.

Perhaps the most interesting bits won’t come from the players themselves, but from the people close to them. Shortly after the game where Real Madrid was eliminated from the UEFA Champions League on March 10, Kaká’s wife retweeted a post by one of his advisers calling Madrid’s coach a “coward”. Social media guidelines are not easy to enforce outside team boundaries.

If you are into social media, but not into soccer, you must be asking by now: why do I care about all this World Cup nonsense? You should care for at least two reasons. First, it will provide all of us a better opportunity to understand the reach and importance of Facebook and Twitter outside North America. Some reports indicate that nearly 50% of Twitter accounts and one quarter of Facebook users hail from outside the US. All the previous events driving high traffic in Twitter and Facebook were wildly popular with Americans and Canadians. As both the US and Canada have traditionally not been major soccer markets, we can for the first time observe the extent to what the rest of the world embraces the two services. Furthermore, the instantaneous nature of the play-by-play reactions and the unprecedented volumes will allow a much closer reading of regional differences in the use of social media, something that the Oscars or Lost can only give us a glimpse of. The “world game” has never been this worldly.





The bamboo raft is a submarine

7 06 2010

It’s been two months since my last post – here at The Bamboo Raft anyway: I have written three posts as a guest blogger at Biznology and another one internal at RBC in the meantime. Life’s been busy. It’s ironic to think that the times I don’t blog are exactly when I have most to blog about. One of my favourite cartoons from a long time ago had this couple in the top of a mountain, looking at a fantastic sunset. The husband (boyfriend maybe?), while trying to take a picture of it, was saying to his significant other: “I can’t wait to be back home, get the pictures and see how beautiful this sunset was”. I suspect that even to this day, the vast majority of the key personal milestones, achievements and failures go mostly unblogged and untweeted. Perhaps we were too occupied to bother writing about it, or things were too personal to share. In my case, I confess, it was mainly a case of just being lazy.

It’s not that that the Bamboo Raft was totally inactive. It was just submerged. The little time I spent writing in the last few weeks actually went all to this ancient form of communication called email 😛 . Some of my Brazilian friends and I have this tradition before every World Cup of writing our guts out about this passion that’s football (soccer). I love doing it, but our conversations are likely too hard core for anybody else to put up with in our picky attention to details and endless debates on anything remotely related to the beautiful game. Things like:

  • How a mathematician calculates the odds for a team to win the World Cup?
  • Are lefties bad in penalty shoot-outs?
  • Does the coach really matter in a 7-game tournament?
  • What are the oddest names / nicknames in the history of World Cups?
  • Are Zinadine Zidane and Mr. Spock identical twins?
Mr. Spock and Zinadine Zidane

Mr. Spock and Zinadine Zidane

As you can see, sometimes NOT using social media may be a good thing.





Winter weekend getaways

21 02 2010

Canada is a great place to live, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my 13+ years living in the Great White North. But I confess that the winter months still make me homesick, my sun-deprived self always demanding some sun rays and a vacation down South between December and March.

This year, however, a mid-winter vacation was not possible, so we overcame our cryophobia and decided to spend two 3-day weekends up North in Muskoka in February. Both mini-vacations went so well that I’m considering going for these cold getaways much more often from now on.

The first trip was to a place facing the beautiful Oxtongue Lake, just a few kilometres from the Algonquin Park West entrance:


Oxtongue Lake in Ontario, Canada

It was a weekend with clear night skies, no wind, cold temperatures and a full moon:

Frozen Oxtongue Lake under a full moon

The picture above is a bit crappy, but the actual experience of walking on the frozen lake covered by snow under a full moon was memorable. The snow absorbed the sounds and reflected the moonlight, the lack of wind and proper insulation made the night walking pleasant and a very unusual sensorial experience overall.

Also unusual was barbecuing under the snow:

Hummm… Picanha BBQ…

Best of all, we had the tobogganing hill for ourselves for most of the weekend:


L trying solo tobogganing for the first time

And then doing it all by himself

Last weekend, we went back to Muskoka, this time close to Sparrow Lake. It was not as secluded as the other place, but it was good to try a variety of winter sports. The hotel offered free gear rentals for skating, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and curling. It was the first Winter Olympics weekend, and L was very excited in trying stuff he was seeing on TV:

First time donning skates


Snow-shoeing


Cross-country skiing

Saying that I have two left feet for winter sports is an understatement. I excel in being bad in all sports, but there’s no word to describe my performance (or lack thereof) with skis or skates. Hopefully, L will not inherit my total ineptitude to brave snow and ice, and his newly discovered interest on winter sports will last beyond the Vancouver 2010 games. For the first time ever, I feel almost sad that the end of winter is already around the corner.





Barack Obina: Yes he C.A.M.

24 01 2010

Watching a football (soccer) game in Brazil is a unique experience. Having watched football games in Canada, England, Spain, France and Germany, I still find the crowds in Brazil the most creative and vocal – but this is naturally a biased opinion. Going to soccer games with my brother in my native Itu is particularly amusing: the small town team has a loyal support base, and my brother’s friends are among the most fanatic I have ever seen. They watch the whole game close to the fence, screaming for the whole 90 minutes, harassing the assistant referees non-stop, and using coarse words I didn’t even know existed in Portuguese.

A particularly interesting phenomenon among Brazilian football supporters is mixing up references outside the sports world in the non-official sports merchandising. Over the last year, one player in particular has been a crowd favourite for those mashups of sorts: Obina. You’ll probably never see him in a FIFA World Cup, but his unusual nickname being somewhat close to Barack’s last name has granted him sustained popularity for the time being, despite his obvious limitations as a player. Here are some samples of what was produced during his tenure in three of the most popular football clubs in Brazil:


Obina donning the Flamengo jersey


Obina as Palmeiras’ President

And the best of all: take a look at this Obina image showing his new club colours, Clube Atlético Mineiro (C.A.M.), and a play with words (CAM in Portuguese is pronounced like “can”), briefly used as the Orkut C.A.M. community image.

Obina wearing the Atlético jersey

To conclude this post, here’s a YouTube homage to Barack Obina in the best (?!) “cult of the amateur” style:




Brazilian football: a disregard for the impossible

13 12 2009

(…) regional tournaments are not economically efficient, as small football clubs benefit from revenues without generating them, due to their lack of followers.

(…) to solve several problems in Brazilian football (…):

1. Reduce the importance of regional tournaments, which would include from now on only small clubs on a “promotion and relegation” system.

2. Integrate the national and international tournament schedules (…)

3. Solve the economic issues of football clubs, and consequently, the issues of Brazilian football as a whole.

If you thought the excerpts above were written by Juca Kfouri or some other present-day Brazilian sports writer, think again: they were taken from the first issue of the weekly news magazine Veja, published on September 11 (!), 1968:

Veja No 1 - Sep 11, 1968

Forty one years later, the administrative problems of Brazilian football are still pretty much the same. Despite of the perpetual mess that is the CBF (the national football association), or perhaps because of that, Brazil has won 3 more FIFA World Cups after that article was written, and has been a staple at the top of FIFA rankings since its inception.

As anything else in the world, the success of Brazilian football in the international arena can’t be linked to a single factor. The diversity and the size of the population, the tropical climate, and the popularity of the game across all social-economic classes, all played a significant role in the development of that sport in Brazil. That’s all nice and logical, but I would argue that chaos and uncertainty were no smaller contributors there.

Where else in the world you would find:

On the other side, football is not a conventional team sport. To win the FIFA World Cup in its current format, a team does not need to score a goal or win a single game in regulation or extra time. Chile qualified to the knock-out phase in 1978 with 3 draws, and theoretically could go all the way to the finals by the means of just winning on penalty shootouts. Furthermore, bad refereeing seems to just increase the interest of fans, to the point that football remains one of the few team sports today where modern technology is off-limits. I suspect this kind of logic is unfathomable to the typical sports fan in North America. If the sport itself is so counter-intuitive, maybe being disorganized, irrational and implausible end up being competitive advantages 🙂 .

Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Product and User Experience at Google once wrote:

Creativity loves constraints but they must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible. (…) Disregarding the bounds of what we know or accept gives rise to ideas that are non-obvious, unconventional, or unexplored. The creativity realized in this balance between constraint and disregard for the impossible is fueled by passion and leads to revolutionary change.

I can’t think of a better description for the jogo bonito. Of course, being creative and fancy is not necessarily the road to success (Netherlands in 1974 and Brazil in 1982 come to mind), but from time to time, that passion for the unconventional gets us gems like these:

Note: This post was updated after its initial publication to add the screenshot of the news magazine and for clarity purposes.





Maurren Higa Maggi, Golden Girl

22 08 2008

This morning, Maurren Higa Maggi became the first Brazilian female athlete in track and field to win an Olympic medal, in great and dramatic fashion: gold in the long jump with a mark of 7.04 m, just 1 cm above the second place, the 2004 champion Tatyana Lebedeva from Russia. Here’s what made the whole difference:

Guess which one is Maurren’s foot 🙂

A short video about her career is here.

The video with the medal ceremony was in YouTube for a couple of hours, but it’s gone now.

There’s one advantage in being from a country with very few gold medals: when you do get one, it’s so special that’s hard to describe 🙂 .

You can google her name and find all about her in the news, so I just want to highlight the facts that made this my favourite story in this fantastic edition of the games.

  • Maurren was born in Sao Carlos, a city where my sister lived for many years, so she makes the Olympic dream something much closer to my reality than Phelps, Kobe Bryant or Usain Bolt.
  • She’s a dedicated mother and mentions her daughter Sophia in every interview: she apparently positions herself as mother first, athlete second.
  • She went to sports hell twice and came back: favourite in Sydney 2000, she got injured during the qualification round and had to quit the competition. In 2003, she tested positive for the steroid clostebol, and was sanctioned with a 2-year suspension. She claimed a doctor had applied a healing cream containing the substance to a cut she received during a hair removal process, and was cleared at the national level but not by the IAAF.
  • She was so upset with the occurred that she shut down, and could not even hear about training again. Her father said that in one occasion she stormed out of the house and drove her car away just because somebody suggested she could go back to training.
  • At that time, she lived the glitz of another sports: she married then Brazilian Formula One driver Antonio Pizzonia – father of Sophia – and went to live in Monaco. It’s interesting to notice that her Wikipedia entry mentions Pizzonia, but Pizzonia’s entry ignores her, even though she’s been arguably much more successful than him. They are not together anymore.
  • Asked if, at 32, age would be an issue to win the medal, she reportedly said: “I’m not afraid of that. Heike Drechsler won the Olympic title at the age of 35, so everything is possible,” she said.”
  • Contrary to many Brazilian athletes competing in Beijing, Maurren has a Brazilian coach, Nelson Moura, who’s also the coach of Panama’s Irving Saladino, who won the men’s long jump competition Tuesday to claim his country’s first-ever Olympic gold. The two athletes live and train in Sao Paulo.
  • I’m not sure about her heritage, but I would guess by her last names that she’s got some Japanese and Italian background. It was funny to hear in the Canadian broadcast people calling her “Maggie”.
  • Sophia told Maurren after the win: “I wanted the silver medal, mom!”