This Saturday my wife and I celebrated our 12,5 years of marriage together with our family and many friends and neighbours. We had a great time living towards the party while remembering lots of things from the the past years. The party itself was incredible. It is so good to be able to have everyone you care about around and have a great time together. We hired a great band and heard music from the 80s all evening. Brought back many memories from our youth! I even played a few songs with my own band, and ended up playing one song solo for my wife at the end of the evening. Why am I writing about it on this blog? Well, because I was thinking about it this Sunday and while I was remembering it and reliving the emotions, I realised there isn’t an on-line experience that even closely matches what we experienced the past days.
It made me wonder why it isn’t possible (yet?) to relive such moments on-line.
Certain parts of the experience can be supported on-line. For example, we looked at pictures and watched our wedding video. This could be done on sites such as Flickr or YouTube. But the experience wouldn’t be quite the same. Why? because the Internet is mostly an individual thing. I sit behind my computer as I type this, and no one is around looking at me. We could look at wedding pictures on Flickr, but the effect would not be the same unless we could do that together with the whole family (and no, I haven’t connected my 42 inch flat screen in the living room to the Internet, call me outdated if you want).
To support the emotions coming from the interaction with family and friends during a party is just impossible! It made me realise (again) that the Internet and the interactions we have through it are a very weak and surrogate version of the real world. Through real-life interactions we create, share, live, and remember emotions and friendships that are much more powerful than any profile, picture, or on-line interaction could ever provide us. A good example of a tech blogger that doesn’t get this is Duncan Riley who tries to pull a humorless joke on nobel prize winning Doris Lessing. In my humble opinion Doris Lessing understands very well what the Internet has and hasn’t brought us.
Is that a bad thing? Of course not. Actually here lies the chance to make things better (Stole that quote from Factoryjoe :-)). Interaction and emotions are powerful drivers for us. It is what makes us tick so to say. I have written many times about this already and I am a firm believer that it is the interaction that creates the greatest user value. So if we want to create user value, and at the same time make the user pay for it (getting rid of the often mis-used free but ad based web 2.0 business model), we should be focusing on emotions and interactions.
How about making web browsing a social thing? Surfing and interacting together. How about if I not only upload the pictures of my party to Flickr, but can also agree to look at them on-line, together with a few friends while we talk about it again (haven’t figured out how we can also have a beer together on-line to go with it). I certainly need to talk to my band members about a few misses we made during the second song (well, it was pretty difficult playing Coldplay’s In My Place, what a great song!).
What if I don’t use my Facebook profile to show people what I did this weekend, but instead I invite all my friends and family to this one place within Facebook where we could actually interact to relive these precious moments again. Where everyone could not just observe but add to that experience.
What if we could simultaneously look at the recording of the band playing, and pinpoint exactly where we messed up or played a particularly difficult part well! What if we could hear back the songs the band I hired played for us, legally, and without ads!, making the record industry distribution emotions instead of music. Or download them all together as a package.
What if we could look at all the presents we received, hearing all the stories of those that gave them to us back again, understanding why someone had picked ut that particular present for us?
What if we could tweet about it together, even if not all people that were there had a Twitter account? We would want to Twitter about it! Not because we needed to update the number of tweets, but because we all have one thing in common. We were all at the same party having a great time and want to share that. No need for a Twitter account to do that, just a place where we can relive that moment. this can only become possible if Twitter would become the plumbing of the web, if service owners would service travelers instead of locking in customer (profiles).
What if we could make our digital experience look a bit more like our real-life experience? Wouldn’t you want that? Wouldn’t you even be willing to pay for that? I know I would! But until then, we are stuck with the crippled tools we have available right now.
So the best thing for me to do is to plan my next big party. We’re definitely throwing one when we are married 25 years, in the mean time I’ll think of a few excuses to organise a few more :-)