Yes, today saw the inaugural Online Memory Challenge, and a lot of fun it was too! Two Englishmen, an Australian, a Norwegian, an Indian and a Latvian brought together by the wonders of the internet to compete against each other in a mini-memory championship without having to leave their homes.
Simon Orton (the Australian) has designed a flabbergastingly magnificent website for the purpose - we had three disciplines, five-minute words, five-minute numbers and speed cards, and all we competitors had to do was log in at the right time, chat while we watched the timer counting down the time to the start, and then start memorising when it told us to. The words/numbers/cards appeared on the screen for five minutes (all in the right format and size for easy competition-standard memorisation), then disappeared to be replaced by the recall page. We typed in the answers, and if you finished early you could click a button, the machine instantly calculated your score, and returned you to the spectator lounge, where you could watch everyone else's recall pages being filled in. And laugh at my inability to remember the word 'fauna' - I reeled off the rest of the words with no problem, and then spent the rest of the recall time staring at the blank space and thinking "I know it was some kind of animal, but what kind?" At the last second I took a wild guess at 'goldfish'. Well, it was close.
And you know what? I think this is the future of memory competitions. Not so much the doing it over the internet part (I like to trust my fellow competitors to play fair, but I don't think I'd be entirely comfortable with having the world championship rely on people not sneakily writing down what had appeared on screen), but the computerised aspect. I've always been sceptical when people have suggested doing it all on computers before, but the OMC has converted me. Simon's program worked so smoothly and perfectly, completely without human intervention once the competition had started, that I now believe it would be possible to do this at a real memory championship without it all going horribly wrong.
I'm looking forward to the next OMC - hopefully it will be bigger and better! (And yes, I won this one).