Monday, February 12, 2007

"Interactive": Notes on the dual sense of the word

Back from We Media Miami with lots of thoughts about the state of media today...yet this morning the one thing that sticks out in my mind is what, exactly, do we mean when we use the word "interactive" when we're talking about the world that exists here on the Internet.

There are, essentially, two different meanings. One focuses on interacting with a site, while the other is interacting with people in a kind of ongoing conversation.

I started thinking about this as I went over some thoughts on the last panel at We Media--and how many of us have the feeling big media isn't getting it Now, there are lots of reasons for this--most notably a need to be above or "objective"--but there may also be just a different understanding of interactive.

Sites that provide a certain amount of interactivity offer video, audio, and slideshow presentations. They have mechanisms for sending email and maybe even forums or message boards. But how often to individuals associated with the corporate end of the site actually respond to people? Sure, if you have a complaint, you may get a response. But do email routinely receive responses? Do people involved in the enterprise ever get involved in conversations online--and can they afford to?

To me, the true interactivity isn't just in beautifully designed flash sites that offer outstanding visual presentations that one can explore.

Rather, Interaction truly begins when people connect through media.

just my $.02...

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