London Eye light show to measure Olympic moaning on Twitter

Oh this'll go well. The London Eye is to be turned into a giant sentiment tracker, showing how positive we're feeling about the Olympics.

Oh this'll go well. The London Eye is to be turned into a giant sentiment tracker, with a huge light show displaying how people on Twitter are feeling about the Olympic Games.

It's a move that makes you want to shake someone by the shoulders and yell, "Have you seen how much people are moaning already? What do you think is going to happen?"

Launched by feisty Olympic legend Daley Thompson, of button-bashing 8-bit fame, the show will start at 9pm every night the Games are on. Positive tweets will colour the wheel gold, the Metro reports; negative will make it purple. Eye sponsor EDF Energy reckons it's the first disaster waiting to happen social media-driven lightshow.

There's an accompanying hashtag, #Energy2012, which is already full of rude and politically charged tweets.

"Sorry Daley Thompson, but the Olympics can smooch my wrinkly b******. #Energy2012," tweets the charming @DocHackenbush.

@anarchic_teapot makes a more serious point. "The LOCOG branding rules are vicious, petty and damaging to the image of the event #Energy2012."

"People are going hungry in this country while we blow billions on running and jumping," objects @justmckeat.

Almost all the 'positive' tweets in the hashtag are simply saying 'cool idea' or similar. The only genuinely positive one I could see was @JoelStMethodist, and he's just bored. "Cannot wait for the Olympics to start," he tweets. "So bored of having nothing to watch in the 600+ channels #Energy2012."

EDF assures me all Olympic-related tweets will be parsed by its amazing sentiment-divining algorithm, not just ones on its easily merked hashtag.

London Eye to light up with Twitter

Most British people are positive or at least not bothered about the Games, with a survey by Ofcom earlier this week finding that 49 per cent of people are quite or very interested in the Olympics, with a further 11 per cent neither interested or uninterested. I don't know how you can be neither interested or uninterested in something, but I guess it just means 'don't care'. Forty-one per cent were 'not very interested' or 'not at all interested'.

But it's the moaners who run the discussion, who rant the most on social networks, who give reporters good quotes. Not that there's nothing to moan about -- the CNET team is mainly going to be working from home during the Games, because public transport is likely to be delayed and overcrowded.

London has become semi-militarised, with warships in the river and rockets on roofs. And the crass brand policing and naked commercialisation would make Pierre de Coubertin turn in his grave, not to mention the vast expense to us all.

Chin up, stiff upper lip, what what

Despite all this, I think the Olympics is still capable of the most extraordinary human moments that bring us all together. I'll never forget watching Michael Johnson destroy the 200m world record in 1996 (I was in an Ikea in France), or the spectacular vista behind the high diving board in Barcelona.

I laughed in amazement at Usain Bolt winning the 100m apparently without trying. And shed a few unmanly tears at the magnificent Kelly Holmes realising she had just won, after decades of injury and heartbreak.

These are moments to make your soul soar, and there will be more of them here in London. Besides, we last hosted the world's greatest party in 1948 and I think it's well past time we put our hands in our pockets and stood a round.

So chin up, London, put on your best brave face, and try to enjoy it. And if you want to tweet something negative, leave off the hashtag, there's a good chap. I'll leave the final word to good old Daley:

"We want to make the EDF Energy London Eye a spectacular showcase of national support for the athletes -- and one that will inspire them every night of the Games."

Image credits: Metro, BBC

Update: A previous version of this story stated that only tweets with the #Energy2012 hashtag would contribute to the sentiment tracker -- this isn't the case.

 

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