Stephanie Levitz

'Gadget Games' embrace technology

Fourth-Place Medal

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Records for medals, merchandise sales and line-ups will characterize these Olympics.

They've also been nicknamed the Glitch Games and the Spring Games. Can we please (after all, we're Canadian here) add Gadget Games to the list?

Not just because of the wacky technology officials are now embracing – like electronic starter pistols. But because these are the Games where for the first time people didn't need to sit in front of a TV or even a computer to watch them – they could do it on their phones.

The embrace of mobile technology likely affords the Olympics the biggest new platform since television. And that's because there are millions of people in the world who don't have a television – but who may have a cell phone.

His Royal Highness Prince Faisal of Jordan, elected to the IOC a couple of weeks ago in Vancouver, is a big proponent of the way cell phones can change the Games.

"It is an opportunity, used properly, to be a very very positive thing for the Olympics, to let people to be able watch and really sense that they are part and parcel of the Olympic movement to really feel that they are connected," he said in an interview. "It's not something you need to hear about, you can feel like you are there."

There has been another sign at these Games that the IOC has fully embraced new technology.

Mark Adams, director of communications for the IOC, was part of an event for the social media crowd at the Vancouver Games. He wanted to clear up a misconception – people aren't allowed to take pictures during the Games and post them to sites like Flickr and Facebook.

This is not true. What is true is that anyone who wants to make any money off those images must have the permission of the IOC. But if you want to use still photos of anything, anything at all for personal use on the web, that's totally fine.

That's always been the IOC's policy – they just haven't communicated it very well.

That Adams took the time to show up signals the IOC is taking the social media world seriously but also taking steps toward actual trying to connect to it.

But it's also not without irony that the best way for them to make the message clear was doing it the old-fashioned way – actually speaking face-to-face.

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