I was in Pittsburgh this weekend for an Arts & Technology Conference. There were a couple sessions on social networking and Web 2.0.
Alan Levine, CTO for the Kennedy Center made one of the presentations. In addition to a good general overview of social networking and web 2.0 concepts he made a couple of good points.
One of the points he made was that in re-designing their site, his goal was that no-one would ever have to go to visit it again. I think that makes sense from the perspective of delivering content to whoever wants it wherever they want it.
I imagine he means something like this would happen...
They don't have to log onto the site to find out the event schedule - they can sign up for an RSS feed that delivers it directly to their Outlook box.
They don't have to log in to get the program notes. They're sent out automatically to your mobile device.
Or, you can get a subscription to have podcasts sent directly to you.
Basically you can subscribe to whatever you want, and its delivered to your phone, your inbox, whatever.
On the other hand, there is a distinction between delivery of 'information' and building community and commitment. Good service is important, and this is good service! But at the root of it, we want a social experience, and I think the whole todo about social networking and web 2.0 is about going beyond the information stuff to the people stuff.
How does an institution do that?
Welcoming people in.
Inviting them to do things.
Inviting them to be thoughtful and creative.
Encouraging a conversation.
Reducing the likelyhood of someone feeling stupid.
I think that's the real challenge of social networking.
How do you do that! What are you doing? Have some great ideas?
Let me know, and I'll post them here.