While browsing the selection of offerings of the pre-equinox international muscle-bound competitions Cockaigne edition (please don’t sue me!) I was struck by an event known as the ‘Modern Pentathalon’. This event consists of such contemporary pursuits like sword fighting and horseback riding among more traditional endeavors like running or swimming as fast as you can and shooting things.
The ‘modern’ misnomer led me to consider, could one construct a truly modern set of competitions designed to determine the best all-around ‘athlete’ of the technology age? And why stop at five events? Today’s Adderall-regulated tech savvy multitaskers are built to handle an influx overstimulation without so much as a tingling of iPhone thumb.
Thus I present to you the Modern Dodecathlon. Let the games begin!
We kick off the games by putting our contestants’ creativity to the test with a Bout of Kickstarter. The challenge is to conceive of a project idea, produce a video, get it approved by Kickstarter and raise the most amount of money in 3 hours. Raising a round of venture capital does not count toward the total.
The second event tests our contestants ability to unleash their inner Jedi by competing in a head-to-head double-elimination Kinect Star Wars tournament. In the final round of the tournament the two remaining contestants will compete until one of them achieves a perfect score in “I’m Han Solo" while Harrison Ford looks on in absolute disgust. Due the the physical nature of the contest many contestants choose to skip this event and take the minimum score.
Next up is The Signal Hunt sponsored by Samsung. Contestants are given an iPhone 4 and told to try to maintain full bars for 30 seconds. Upon achieving the first objective, contestants will then need to place a five-minute phone call without dropping the call or the phone. Proper grip and an innate sense of radio frequencies will help the best contestants stand out. Since this event is likely to take place in a big city, you can guarantee a tough challenge year after year.
Our contestants are then given an iPad and the task of completing an Angry Birds Speed Run through all of the levels in Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Space. Competitors who complete the levels quickly will avoid the possibility of more levels being released in the middle of the competition.
After the exhilaration of watching contestants repeat the same actions over and over again hoping for different outcomes wears off, it’s time to rejuvenate the audience’s senses with a Tweet Off. Scores are determined by the number of favorites and retweets received in an hour. Tweets must be exactly 140 characters to be eligible. The delegation from app.net has gone on the record stating that they would like to be included in the next occurrence of the games.
A popular individual event makes its way into the Dodecathlon with an SMS Race brought to you by Research in Motion. Due to sponsorship considerations, each contestant is given a BlackBerry Bold and given 200 typing tasks to complete and submit via SMS. The Canadians are particularly strong in this event due to considerable corporate backing, though the dual leadership structure at the top of some Canadian teams is causing a steady decline in the quality of their output.
To practice for our next event, The PC Decrapifier, you just need a parent with a computer. A random baby boomer’s Windows PC is confiscated and given to the contestants to fix. Mastery of such skills as repeatedly resetting the default browser away from Internet Explorer, installing Windows Updates and uninstalling the ‘Speed up your PC’ program they heard about on an infomercial will result in the best marks.
With a clean PC, contestants must now install Minecraft and build the tallest tower or something. Due to the event organizer’s lack of knowledge in this area, the exact rules will be determined by a Notch, whatever that is.
Next up is a thon within a thlon: The Hackathon. This event tests our contestants’ ability to code, or fake it with a slick slide deck. Using the winning project from the Bout of Kickstarter, contestants get 24 hours (YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD) to build the best prototype to be judged on by our esteemed panel of Silicon Valley startup luminaries. All intellectual property generated by contestants is the sole property of The Modern Dodecathlon.
In a separate but related event to the Hackathon, contestants are to take their entries and produce a pitch deck to present to top-tier VCs from Silicon Valley and New York. Winning is simple: raise the most money. Raise less than $100M and you’re disqualified from the competition.
Next the contestants’ ears are put to the test. Each one is put in a room with an array of devices behind a curtain. In rapid fire fashion the devices are sent a series of alerts, notifications, messages and other sound or vibration inducing events. This is known as The WUPHFing. As quickly as possible contestants must identify the name of the app that produced the sound or vibration and all operating systems that app runs on. In this year’s competition contestants are expected to get tripped up on the Windows Phone 7 sounds, having never heard them outside of Redmond.
The grand finale of our Dodecathlon is the Typing and Walking 5K Obstacle Course (or NAMBLA). This event places our contestants on the streets of the host city with a smartphone in each hand. Contestants must dodge a variety of moving obstacles including tourists, transients, panhandlers, street performers and the dreaded dead zones which are more commonly known by the name “crosswalks”. Throughout the course contestants must send an email, tweet, poke someone on Facebook, take an Instagram photo, checkin on Foursquare, share a moment on Path, and host a Google+ hangout. Points are deducted for each time the competitors look up from their device.
After twelve grueling events, a winner will be crowned. Three winners will be awarded medals forged in China from the gold-laced circuit boards of recycled devices. Every four years the event will repeat again with each iteration requiring new events to be constructed due to technological obsolescence. 2016 will bring us Google Glass and self-driving cars. 2020 will feature the newly-final TextMate 2. And in 2024 as California drifts off into the ocean and only Appglebook remains it’s quite likely that riding horses and having sword fights will be considered modern yet again.