Many years ago, while our staff forum at the BBC was in its heyday, someone commented that the forum had done more to build a “one BBC” culture than any of the corporate initiatives under the same name. It wasn’t mandated, it wasn’t managed, it wasn’t even particularly anticipated or planned. People did it themselves one conversation at a time, one post at a time.
In advance of the Olympics I had seen the games as the equivalent of those corporate initiatives – a jingoistic, over managed, orchestrated, corporately funded, modern equivalent of bread and circuses.
With the Olympics, as with our forum at the BBC, we are seeing people come together one tweet at a time, one Facebook update at a time, and building something really special. We have been learning as we go that social tools are capable of more than just updating the world as to what we had for breakfast. They are capable of helping us build and share culture. To rub shoulders virtually and to take collective ownership of how we see the world and what we do about it.
These social games have in fact proved to be a wonderful celebration of a culture of which I am actually very proud. A multicultural, tolerant, energetic Britain that I believe could teach the rest of the world a thing or two about how to build and sustain a civilised way of living together. Even some of the uncomfortable moments detailed in my previous post have been learned about, understood and reacted to collectively online.
The BBC has done a wonderful job of covering the games but at the same time we are shrugging off the need for the media or politicians to tell us what things mean, and are getting better at working it out for ourselves.
Even if I still don’t get the sport – this is really exciting!