In the interview, we talk about the idea of Web 2.0 being based on a simple premise: software that gets better the more people use it. Every person who clicks on a Google search result, rates a movie on Netflix, or adds a photo to Flickr improves the overall experience for subsequent users. The extent to which I can learn from Wikipedia or waste time on Youtube is directly proportional to the volume of other users' participation--creators, critics, and spectators alike. This is what Tim O'Reilly refers to as an "architecture of participation"--one in which the rewards of engagement are not felt only by individual users but by the community as a whole.
This concept has spawned a question I like to obsess over: What would a museum look like that got better the more people used it? Not one that got more dirty and broken, or crowded and frustrating, but one for which every subsequent visitor experience was improved by those that had come before?
What might this look like? It might be a recommendation system that helps visitors find things that they'll like or be inspired by based on the preferences of previous visitors. It might be an exhibit that evolves over time, growing richer (but not cluttered) by continued visitor participation and contribution. It might be an educational program that links visitors to each other via their affinities and skills rather than staff providing all of the instruction. It might be a membership program in which the member can grow with the institution not via donor levels but via deeper content experiences with other members.
In the next chunk of the book I'm writing, I'm exploring the ways the network effects of many visitors' actions over time can generate exciting possibilities for subsequent visitors. I'd like to push beyond the most obvious and often-technologically mediated examples to find some clever, elegant, low-tech ways for visitors to enhance each others' experiences. The Haarlem Oost library book drops are one example, but I'm sure you have seen or created others.
And so I have a birthday request for you. Sometime this week, please think about this question and share your response here as a comment.
How could a museum get better the more people use it?You will make everyone who reads this blog's experience better by sharing your brilliant ideas, and you'll give a great gift to one curly-haired almost-birthday girl. Thanks in advance!