Obama’s inauguration brings new experiences

Obama’s inauguration was the focus of huge media coverage and interest around the world. Somewhere between 1 million and 5 million people (the estimates vary wildly) were present to experience things first-hand in Washington, D.C. (even if not up close and personal).
The event didn’t escape the notice of the high-tech industry and the online world. The U.K.’s Telegraph caught the feeling: “the inauguration of Barack Obama promises to be a social media orgy”. And it was. Apart from TV, radio, video feeds, Tweets, Texts, and Blogs by the score (million?), people could watch the event on their cell-phones and iPhones, laptops and PDAs.Arbor Networks chart showing peak traffic of 3.5 Terabits per second.

Data from 10 U.S. ISPs, as reported by Arbor Networks, suggest that the inauguration generated peak traffic of 3.5 Terabits per second on their networks, with a steep rise leading up to the inauguration speech.

Many people were at work at the time, but wanted to watch the event. With limited access to TV, this created a particular demand for streaming video. CNN said it provided more than 21.3 million video streams over a nine-hour span up to midafternoon. That blew past the 5.3 million streams provided during all of Election Day. At its peak, CNN.com fed 1.3 million live streams simultaneously.

Akamai also reported feeding up to a record-breaking 7 million video streams at one time. Figures from AdAge and Nielsen suggest that more people watched the inauguration as live streamed video on the Internet (39.7M) than watched it on TV (37.8M).

Invitation to inaugural celebration at Capitol Hill, Second Life.Amongst this hi-tech frenzy, there were some new ways to experience the event, experiences that didn’t exist even a few years ago.

For example, one of the places you could “meet up” to share and celebrate the event was on Capitol Hill – in Second Life.

Microsoft and CNN invited people to send in their photos of the exact moment of the swearing-in. They then merged 628 of these images to create a navigable 3-D montage, using their Photosynthesis software. Of course, many people captured “the moment” not on location, but from TVs in their homes. Microsoft and CNN also montaged these photos.

To view them, you will need to download and install the Photosynthesis application and browser plug-in:

GeoEye-1 image of the inauguration. Click to see enlarged image (3.42MB JPG).And GeoEye-1 was observing the scene from 423 miles up. Launched in September, exclusive rights to use GeoEye-1’s imagery online are owned by Google.

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