The other day I was sitting in the company of leaders in one
industrial category. (I won’t say which because it’s beside
the point I want to make.) A question arose: Why are there so few visitors to our websites? Millions use their services, yet few bother with visiting their sites, except every once in awhile.

The answer, I suggested, was that their sites were buildings. They were architected, designed and constructed. They were conceived and built on the real estate model: domains with addresses, places people could visit. They were necessary and sufficient for the old Static Web, but lacked sufficiency for the Live one.

The Web isn’t just real estate. It’s a habitat, an
environment, an ever-increasingly-connected place where fecundity
rules, vivifying business, culture and everything else that thrives
there. It is alive.

The Live Web isn’t just built. It grows, adapts and changes. It’s an environment where we text and post and author and update and tweet and syndicate and subscribe and notify and feed
and — and yell and fart and say wise things and set off alarms
and keep each other scared, safe or both. It’s verbs to the
Static Web’s nouns. It is, in a biological word that has since
gone technical, generative.

This is what I see when I look at Twitter Search. It’s what I see in my aggregator, in FriendFeed, in Technorati and Google Blogsearch
(and in feeds for keyword searches of both), in IM and Skype, in the
growing dozens of live apps — for weather, sports, radio and rivers of news — on my phone. And when I watch myself and others mash and mix those together, and pipe one into another.

And I say all this knowing that most of what I mentioned in that
last paragraph will be old hat next week, if not next month or next
year. C’est la vie.

Speaking of this week, I just discovered Google InQuotes
via one or more of the Tweeters that I follow. And it struck me that
the reason Microsoft has trouble keeping up with Google is as simple as
Live vs. Static. Google gets the Live Web. Microsoft doesn’t. Not
yet, anyway. It’s comfortable in the static. It’s cautious.
It doesn’t splurge on give-aways because it doesn’t know
that life is one long give-away in any case. We’re born with an
unknown sum of time to spend and we’ve got to dump it all in the
duration. That’s why now is what matters most. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, John Lennon said. The game of business is the game of life.

Years ago somebody said that everybody else was playing hockey while
Bill Gates was playing chess. I think now the game has changed. I think
now the game isn’t a game. It’s just life. The Web is
alive. It’s a constantly changing and growing environment
comprised of living and static things. Meanwhile what said long ago still applies: …companies so lobotomized that they can’t speak in a recognizably human voice build sites that smell like death.

I don’t think Microsoft is dead, or even acting like it. Nor
do I think Google is unusually alive. Just that Google is especially
adapted to The Live Web while Microsoft seems anchored in the static.
As are most other companies and institutions, frankly. Nothing special
about Microsoft there. Just something illustrative. A helpful contrast.
Perhaps it will help Microsoft too.

If you want to participate in the Live Web, you can’t just act
like it. You have to jump in and do it. Here’s the most important
thing I’ve noticed so far: it’s not just about competition.
It’s about support and cooperation.
Even political and business enemies help each other out by keeping each
other informed. There may be pay-offs in scarcity plays, but the bigger
ones emerge when intelligence and good information are shared, right
now. And archived where they can be found again later. All that old
stuff is still nourishment.

Veteran readers know I’ve been about for .
(And credit goes to my son Allen for coming up with the insight in the
first place, more than five years ago.) I think Live vs. Static is a
much more useful distinction than versions. (Web 1.0, 2.0, etc.) Hey,
who knows? Maybe it’ll finally catch. It seemed to in the room
where I brought it up.

By the way, a special thanks to , , and the audience at our panel at BlogWorld Expo
for schooling me about this (whether they knew it or not). I got clues
galore out of that, and I thank the whole room for them. (Hope the
video goes up soon. You’ll see how it went down. Good stuff.)