Update: Google has posted its entire press conference from British Columbia so anybody can see it. In it, Google shows off the different ways it is involved in the Olympics experience:
If you don’t want to watch the entire thing, but would rather see the gist of it, they have also uploaded the highlights:
Original Article: As the Olympics get underway, fans have a lot of options to engage online. Many popular sites on the web are involved in a variety of ways.
Google allows you to take a virtual tour of the Olympics in 3D. They recently released updates in Google Earth’s 3D Buildings layer, which showcase Olympic venues (54 buildings). Models range from downtown event centers to ski lifts and spectator bleachers. The Official site for the Olympics uses the models itself.
Vectoral Elevation has "an interactive artwork" that allows users to direct light beams and transform Vancouver’s skyline until the end of the month using a custom interface built on Google Earth and Map APIs. It lets users design big light sculptures by directing 20 robotic searchlights located around English Bay.
Google has also taken Street View to Olympics country:
Microsoft launched a new Bing Maps application that pulls photos from Flickr, associates them with Bing Maps Streetside photos, and overlays them stretching the photo to form fit where in the world it belongs. The app is currently available in Vancouver (among several other places).
Bing actually has a Winter Olympics-specific Maps app as well. "In coordination with NBCOlympics.com, get up to the minute information about the 2010 Winter Olympics in everything from venues to news," says Bing’s Chris Pendleton. "Click the Venues bar on the left to see the different venues where the events are taking place. Click the Medal Count bar to see every country mapped out with the number of bronze, silver and gold medals awarded to the respective country. Click the Winter Games News and Blogs to get the latest information about the Winter Olympic Games from news sources and bloggers on site. Finally, check out the Winter Games Tweets which filters information from our Twitter Maps application specific to the Olympics." Bing talks about more Vancouver apps that feature Bing Maps here.
Bing is also giving its home page some Olympics love. It will be updating it with various photos from the events. "And while we’ll show some winners, this won’t be the standard parade of medalists," says Bing’s Stephanie Horstmanshof. "We’re out to show the great moments from the games: the alpine skier from Ghana, the debut of Ski Cross as an Olympic event, anything to do with curling—all with the stunning imagery that you’ve come to expect on the Bing homepage."
More ways that Bing and MSN are involved in the Olympics are discussed here.
Yahoo has a games-dedicated site, as well as a new Olympic mobile site at m.yahoo.com/olympics. This will provide coverage with live results, upcoming events, medal counts, photos, news, commentary, etc.
Yahoo also has a Yahoo Sports Olympics Coverage app for My Yahoo, that gives you more such information.
On Yahoo’s Flickr, the IOC, the official governing body of the Olympics, has set up their official Olympic photo group for people to share their photos of the events and of Vancouver.
The IOC also has an official Olympic Games Page on Facebook. "Through the page, you can stay updated on activities and events at the Games, while sharing your own stories about what the Olympics mean to you," says Alex Huot, head of social media for the IOC. "You’ll even be able to stay updated on future games even after this year’s Winter Olympics end."
Alex also encourages people to use Facebook to become a fan of athletes and Olympics teams, play the Vancouver 2010 Official Minigame, and share photos.
Twitter has a list of verified athletes from the Olympics who will be tweeting. Fans will of course be tweeting non-stop about things that happen at the Olympics throughout the events.
These are just a few of many ways fans of the Olympics can engage with the events on the web. How are you planning on staying connected?