Monday, 9 January 2012


Hello all. Hope you haven't missed me (you'd be deeply sad if you did). I've been taking a refreshing break. I'm rested, but I'm certainly not a better or reformed person for it, so don't worry: 2011's diet of misanthropy and bitterness will carry over for the foreseeable future.

First up is this rather Orwellian report from Gizmodo, which discusses the Olympic Games organisers' plans to muzzle its volunteers:

workers are to:
  • not to disclose their location
  • not to post a picture or video of Locog backstage areas closed to the public
  • not to disclose breaking news about an athlete
  • not to tell their social network about a visiting VIP, eg an athlete, celebrity or dignitary
  • not to get involved in detailed discussion about the Games online

I should say that due to LOCOG's tortoise-like efficiency, I haven't had this briefing yet, though no doubt they'll be applying the rubber truncheons and nipple clamps to your own dear Vole sometime in the spring.

Some of this is common sense: letting the world know that an athlete has an injury might affect another team's planning and give an unfair advantage. There are also some proper security concerns, but the rest is nonsense which I fully intend to ignore (I'll be less Vole, more Mole). For instance: I'm part of the fencing organisation. 2 seconds on the interweb reveals that Fencing will be at the ExCel centre. If that was a secret, there wouldn't be any spectators! That's just silly.

It's the last bit that bothers me. I won't suffer from being banned from tweeting that Richard Kruse brushed past me in a corridor. Nor will you. But 'detailed discussion about the Games' (and some pictures) were going to be this blog's daily diet for August. What is 'detailed'? Why shouldn't I offer a volunteer's perspective on the Games? I'm already pretty conflicted about working on this corporate festival (McDonald's!) - I'm not signing away my right to freedom of speech as well, nor am I going to become a PR mouthpiece, as they envisage:
volunteers will be allowed to retweet “official London 2012 postings” as much as they like
This is standard fare for major events and organisations: both in their inability to understand that they cannot, silence everybody, and in their belief that the event requires an army of tweetbots automatically broadcasting bland, monotonal boostery.* In the new world, the hubbub of individual commentary will provide the first draft of history. Some of us will be enthusiastic, others snark, others factual, others critical, some reasonable, some unreasonable. That's what helps makes the Games a real event, rather than a Baudrillardian or Ballardian simulation of one.

*I'm avoiding the obvious Canute/Knut reference because a) the legend claims he was trying to demonstrate to his courtiers the limits of regal authority and b) the story turns up 200 years after he died, and none of the medieval histories are reliable. It was probably made up.

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