Use the web to get your 2008 Beijing Olympics fix

We’re one week away from the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Most of us stateside likely won’t be making the long trip, but there are a few interesting ways to keep up to date on the action around the web.

First and foremost, NBC will be streaming over 2,000 hours of live content and 3,000 hours of on-demand video to the Internet via its site NBCOlympics.com, reports CNET. This will not only be a big test for Microsoft’s Flash competitor Silverlight, which will power the site’s web video player, but also for the viability of large-scale live web video itself.

Earlier this year, CBS earned rave reviews for its streaming of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament on the web. It was so popular that some employers even had to block access to the site. However, on the opposite end, MLB.tv revamped its site for live baseball game coverage this year and has been marred with problems.

Also looking to capitalize on the excitement is Google. Today, Google’s Maps team updated its data to include new imagery footage above Beijing that is less than two weeks old, according to the Google Lat Long Blog. The new images look great. (See below)

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&ie=UTF8&t=k&s=AARTsJo43hfMMrThgNfkev9Y4qbiIKEG9g&ll=39.991473,116.390576&spn=0.005754,0.012231&z=16&output=embed&w=570&h=350%5D

This Google Maps and Google Earth (the imagery is updated for both) China coverage update is somewhat surprising for two reasons:

First, as Google itself notes, “it’s very hard to get good satellite photos of Beijing due to clouds and other atmospheric conditions.” By that it means pollution, which is a major problem in the city. So much so that the use of cars has been restricted to try and curb emissions leading up to the games. Google credits its partners GeoEye and DigitalGlobe with cutting through the fog (or smog).

Second, it’s no secret that China is notoriously restrictive when it comes to the web and access to its people. High resolution satellite imagery of the country would seem like something China would definitely be against, but perhaps it made some compromises for the Olympic coverage. Apparently the areas with the new coverage are Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang and Quindao.

There has also been a FriendFeed room set up to cover the Olympics live and on-location. Blogger Chad Catacchio (also the marketing director at ZoomProspector), is over in China for the games and will be piping in live updates, news and pictures among other things into his Beijing Olympics FriendFeed room.

Covering events using FriendFeed has worked well for us in the past, it should be interesting to see how the Olympics unfold on the other side of the world.


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