Data Delights at the Olympics - It's Social, Mobile, Big and oh so Revealing

3 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

Does the athlete who wins the most Olympic medals also win the most social media clicks per day?

Though many of us might think this may be the case, the reality is that swimmer Ryan Lochte beats out most-medaled Michael Phelps by a pretty handsome margin.

According to a realtime study that the data scientists at bit.ly are conducting for the Guardian, Lochte averages 61,295 clicks vs. Phelps 48,902 (swimmers, by the way, win more Olympic social media clicks than any other athletes). Track star Usain Bolt comes in third with 33,781.

It’s worth noting that because the study is being done in real time, these figures are likely to change, though at this point in the games, Lochte will be difficult to dethrone.

Back to the Tech Talk

Now of course, we at CMSWire aren’t here only to report on fun facts gleaned from Big Data sets that are being generated at the Olympics (though keep reading because there are more to come), we have to tell you something about technology, so get this, the scientists at bit.ly are creating their analysis using an experimental technology called realtime, and you too can use it with links you create.

What’s really cool about whatbit.ly is doing with Olympics data is that they’re looking not only at numbers of clicks, but they’re also finding the link as to why somethingmight be spiking at any particular moment in time.

Big Data in Context

Take, for example, that the number of clicks for Chinese hurdlerLiu Xiang spiked 46,934 times the Olympic average (the largest click spike of the games) followinghis crash into the first hurdle. Yahoo sports call the picture of the former world record holder kissing the hurdle and hobbling over the finish line with the help of some friends as one of the most remarkable images of our time.

And while ten years ago, and even five years ago, it would have been impossible to note such a large spike in views, not so today. Consider not only the viral nature of the web,but also all of the smartphones in China. This ain’t your big sister’s Internet.

Learning Opportunities

It’s also somewhat of a rarity to see an athlete’s clicks spike again and again, but that’s exactly what is happening for trail-blazing, scarf-wearing Saudi Arabian track star Sarah Attar whose country (or at least its rulers) prefers that its females not compete in the games.

Though Attar did not fare well in competition, she did win the hearts of people all over the world many of whom could not have witnessed her presence at the games were it not for their smartphones.

And though it would be great that every spike were celebratory, Canadian soccer player Melissa Tancredi won a shame-worthy social media spike when she stomped on American Carli Lloyd's head. Though she reportedly received no penalty from an official during the game, social media sneered loudly. Website FanIQ said that the head-stomping might be the most disgraceful moment of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Usain Bolt image courtesty of Nick J Webb on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading some of Virginia's other articles on social media at the Olympics:

-- Tweet Trouble at the Olympics

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