WHERE TO FIND IT: http://www.nagano.
CRITIQUE: Everyone sees the Olympics as a showcase. The athletes, certainly, the broadcasters, the sponsors and yep, the backend support companies, such as IBM Corp. With sites like these, the developer becomes a marketer. So of course Big Blue has put up an ambitious Web site to show that its computers can do more than just play chess-they can tell you how to be a better luger.
Showcases can do a lot for a brand image, one way or another. And IBM has some ground to re-cover, having dropped the ball at the Atlanta Summer Games in '96 with a series of embarrassing technical glitches.
So the big question is, will the site stand up? They've certainly loaded it up with some well-designed, high-impact, high-bandwidth features that will push the machines to their limit. The site is packed with Shockwave games, Java trivia games, a countdown clock (does this sound old-hat yet?) and information about the venues for the Games. The traffic will spike when the Games are under way and IBM is posting results in real time.
It's a solid, well-planned site on the surface. IBM is in a great position to shine with it if the servers can make it to the finish line. For most Web developers this is only one of many issues, but when what you're selling is the technology itself, it's the only issue.
WHO CREATED IT: IBM (www.ibm.net); Studio Archetype, San Francisco (www.studioarchetype.com)