We still don’t know how many people watched Sunday’s World Cup final, but the numbers from the last go-round provide a clue. In 2010, FIFA claimed that 900 million people watched at least one minute of that game.
Nearly 12 percent of the world’s population, in other words, briefly focused on a bunch of dudes kicking a ball and running around. It’s a staggering collective act of attention. For those 90 minutes, people saw the same sights, experienced the same emotions. Their personal senses of time became the time of the game.
What does that look like?
The novelist Teju Cole and the information designer Jer Thorp wanted to make some sense of it. With the help of artist and developer Mario Klingemann, they have created The Time of the Game, “a synchronized global view of the World Cup.” The page aggregates over 2,000 different photos of people’s TVs showing the World Cup.
The photos were submitted by Cole’s more than 160,000 followers. Last week, during the first semifinal, Cole asked his followers to submit photos of their TV showing the Cup. He asked them to provide a caption: where they were watching the game, and what minute it was.
We live in different time zones, out of sync but aware of each other. Then the game begins and we enter the same time: the time of the game.— Teju Cole (@tejucole) July 8, 2014
His followers obliged. Hundreds of pictures were posted to the social network, each with a hashtag marking them as part of the public event, #thetimeofthegame. So for the final, said Cole, he wanted to try something a little bigger. He recruited Thorp, the founder of the Office for Creative Research and a faculty member of New York University, to help construct the communal photographs into something more substantial.