Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's Alive! Another Way to Think of Web 2.0

There was an excellent post this month on the O'Reilly Radar, What Would Google Do?, about the ubiquity (and potential) of 2.0-based services. After describing many ways that Google might automate and make seamless various daily tasks, Tim O'Reilly comments:
This is one reason I think that Microsoft's term, "Live Software" is so right on. (I thought of naming this piece "Why Live Software is a better name than Web 2.0.") It's unfortunate that Microsoft has chosen that name for its own products only, because it goes right to the heart of what makes Web 2.0 applications so interesting: they are alive, or as close to it as you can get with a computer. They learn from and interact directly with their users (and more specifically, provide services to individual users that benefit from the aggregate interaction of the system with all of its users.)

There's been a lot of linguistic tongue-twisting about the value, use, and abuse of the term "web 2.0." I like this analogy of "live" technology that responds, grows, and adapts organically (and, hopefully, intelligently). When I look at social network sites, even ones like Twitter that feel somewhat inane, I'm always struck by how much I'm drawn in by the human energy of it, the sense that there are lots of people out there, hands and mouths outstretched. Perhaps this is a good way to get museum people thinking about involving visitor voices--making the museum into a "live" venue as opposed to a static environment. A "live" exhibit responds to you personally based on your previous experience and interests. A "live" exhibit connects you to others who have used the exhibit and their experiences. A "live" exhibit empowers you as an active contributor.

In related news, I've spent the past two years developing a "live" addition to the International Spy Museum, Operation Spy. Through careful design, intense show control, and extensive guide training, we hope to make it an experience that truly engages, incites, and reacts to our visitors. Our press opening is today. You can see me briefly on the news here, looking way too cheerful after months of 16 hour days. They actually woke me up off the exhibit floor to do this spot. Which may explain the dazed look on my face in the fake elevator (much scarier in person than it appears on TV)...

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