Since we do audio research we were asked about one of the current hot topics in the World Cup, and that's the sound of the vuvuzela. Chris wrote a really good article about the vuvuzela sound and how it comes across on the radio/TV, with some audio analysis plus a downloadable plugin for quietening the sound without quietening the commentator (that's what we were asked about).
But culturally it's kind of bizarre that a fair proportion of England fans seem to be cross about the sound of the vuvuzela. This is one of the things that's great about global events like the World Cup or the Olympics - it's a high-profile thing where a kind of uniformity (the rules of the game) meet up with local variation (the things people do around the game). It must be quite a powerful sound to be in the middle of a load of vuvuzelas. Just like football chants there's presumably an element of intimidating the other side but that's all part of the atmosphere, and part of supporting your home team. Why not?
It seems like it's a part of South African football culture. It's not been around for many decades, and some of the nay-sayers seem to think that because it's relatively recent and because it's made of plastic that it can't be defended as being part of the culture, but to me that comes across as a kind of snobbery. I like the fact that different matches sound different because of the crowd that's there, whether you recognise certain songs - or I remember being surprised by an international match where the general roar of the crowd seemed to be much higher-pitched than I was used to. Then I realised that it was because the country (I forget which) had a much better balance of male and female football fans, and it was really impressive to notice that this difference made a distinctly audible difference.
Anyway. Over at the createdigitalmusic blog there's a nice vuvuzela orchestra video as well as a summary of a lot of the technical suggestions people have been making...