Soccer World Cup 2006: A Ubiquitous Computing Experience

Not really a post about teaching or learning, but as I've been religiously following the World Cup, I've come to realize how much information I've been accessing through digital technology, and how much I haven't…..

Just as a comparison, the earliest World Cup I remember watching is the 1978 tournament. I was ten at the time and watched what games I could on television and read up on the rest in the daily paper. That was the extent of my experience. Most games were broadcast on tape delay to make up for the time difference between Argentina and Holland, and the paper didn't come until the next morning.

Fast forward to 2006. I've been accessing numerous articles and other updates on the Internet, and can follow games in real time on the web through the Official World Cup website, available in nine languages. (For those lucky ones living in England, the BBC is streaming all the games live on the Internet, for free). In addition, I can view video highlights and the official FIFA game report immediately following the game. And, if I'm away from my desktop, I can access updated scores on my wireless handheld using TinyStocks Football 2006 Manager for the World Cup and keep track of who plays when and where, set myself reminders so I can record the games on my DVD burner at home (they are on when I'm at work), and update group standings when new scores are available. Cell phone users can get updates and video if they subscribe to the World Cup update service through their provider (in the US, V-Cast is available in Spanish only).

If that's not enough, I can sign up for email updates, read and respond to more blogs about the World Cup than I can count, look at and tag the Flickr picture streams on the World Cup site or Flickr itself, download desktop backgrounds and screen savers or play games online. I can also read up on the Dutch national team in my hometown's newspaper, or listen to player interviews on NOS Studio Sport, even though I live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. If I still have time left, I can play EA Sport's FIFA World Cup 2006, which features accurate representations of the players and venues participating in the real thing, or buy World Cup merchandise on the Internet.

Finally, there is also plenty of information on the Internet about previous World Cups, including stories, pictures, video, and more.

Of course, nothing beats being at an actual World Cup game and I hope to attend one at least once in my lifetime. However, digital tools allow me to be close to the biggest sports event on earth anywhere and anytime, even if I can't be there physically.

 PS. FIFA expects an estimated cumulative audience of 30-32 billion (that's 30-!) for this year's World Cup, with an expected 1 billion to watch the final on June 9. Amazing.

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