Not a medal, but still an Olympic win


Anything look familiar about the ice crystals on NBC’s Vancouver Olympics bumper screens (some of which float behind Bob Costas’ head when he sits talking at his desk)?

You can see the originals here. They were shot at our apartment near Boston one year ago, on a morning when it was way below freezing outside, and moisture from inside the house collected in these snowy patterns, a fractal festival on the insides of our storm windows. (All of which our landlady has since replaced with fresh thermal ones, by the way — meaning I’m not going to get those shots again.)

Anyway, I was approached last Fall by NBC about using the shots for their Olympics coverage. They’d found them in my photo pile on Flickr. I said sure. There’s no money in it, but my name will run in the credits.

Meanwhile, it makes watching the show a lot more fun. And it’s a big win for Creative Commons too.

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  1. Ann’s avatar

    Congrats David on your contribution to the olympics. Really cool!
    By the way did you find out who the ’80s singer was?
    Ann Beurskens (Sheila’s friend)

  2. Rex Hammock’s avatar

    Now, everytime I read your blog, I will be hearing the Olympic fanfair playing in my head.

  3. Todd Carpenter’s avatar

    “Wicked! That’s awesome”, said Colette. Your daughter is very proud. We might have to actually tune in now!

  4. Steve’s avatar

    Impressive. A little hard to believe that they didn’t kick a bit back to you for using your images.

  5. Robert’s avatar

    No money!? NBC makes loads off this torn apart coverage. The usage should have garnered something.

  6. Todd’s avatar

    We caught a bit of the Olympics last night. You would be amazed at how often that image appears on the screen. About every couple minutes. You really should have dinged NBC for SOMETHING, given how ubiquitous the image is on the screen.

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Todd.

    In response to NBC’s request to use the images, I said “I’m glad to accept payment when offered. ๐Ÿ™‚ But when not, running my name in the credits is fine.” They didn’t make that offer, and that’s cool with me.

    You’re right that the images are nearly ubiquitous. I think it’s possible that, by the time the Olympics are over, those images will have appeared more than any others in the entire event.

    I just hope NBC will remember the favor when I come calling to talk with them about VRM.

  8. Positive thinking’s avatar

    yeah no money buy your name will be remembering fragrant like flower

  9. Brad Johnson’s avatar

    Wow — Nice of you to give a corporation something worth a few thousand dollars for free, without even having them abide by the share-alike clause of copyleft!

  10. Chip’s avatar

    Hey …tre’ cool
    Maybe the best thing I’ve seen yet, other than Vonn’s run last night

  11. sy’s avatar

    good thing you used the share-alike cc license since i just made a mashup of nbc’s mashup of your snowflakes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Gail Jesswein’s avatar


    David, you did great, very impressive.!

    Hi to Joyce and Jeffery.

    Father-in -Law

  13. susan’s avatar

    that’s is totally cool! i got one of my shots chosen for some website about Portland and it’s a charge. good work.

  14. David Weinberger’s avatar

    Ah, the new ecology works its magic! Nice, Doc.

    I’d like to hear NBC talk sometime about its use of CC’ed material, and about its own contributions to the commons (if any).

  15. Josh McHugh’s avatar

    “…on your deathbed, you’ll receive total consciousness.”
    – The Lama, as quoted by Bill Murray in Caddyshack
    So you’ve got *that* going for you.
    Definitely interested in seeing how/if NBC pays this forward.

  16. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Sy, where’s your mashup? Can we see it?

    As for NBC paying forward, I’m sure it will happen. We’re looking at a new ecosystem developing here: one in which more ground emerges from the field of participation by anybody and everybody.

  17. Kim Sherrell’s avatar

    b e a u t i f u l
    Long Live CC!!

  18. Christopher Cass’s avatar

    Hi David…Glad Joyce sent the message. Your ice fractals are indeed ubiquitous on NBC. Pay it forward is best: if they don’t, pay YOU!


  19. Joani Mitchell’s avatar

    You are so talented in so many ways… It is great to know someone famous who is just a NICE guy

  20. Ellen Moe’s avatar

    Brendan & Joellen told us about your ice crystals and now I spend more time watching for them to float by than watching the actual coverage.

    With all the commercial breaks, NBC could not have afforded to pay each time they used your shots.

    At least back on the East Coast you are getting to see some of the events live. Here in the same time zone as the games, all we are getting are delayed broadcasts.

  21. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Hey, Ellen. We almost went, once it looked like we might be able to get into some of the events. But there was too much to do here in Boston, alas. Meanwhile, enjoy.

    For what it’s worth, it seems like much of the stuff here is delayed too. We record most of them on the laptop and watch the next day anyway.

  22. fred’s avatar


    It is a fascinating juxtaposition of NBC using CC content – where due to licensing restrictions on content etc we could not see the ever popular USA v Canada hockey game a few days ago. Did you include the “Open Virus” in the data file that will infect their corporate culture and lead to more open access to content??

    Bob C

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