I just read this article from Red Herring, stating that Mark Burnett (creator of Survivor and The Apprentice) is about to produce a game show with web-driven clues that lets everybody in America participate. If he can pull off the mechanics, it will be sheer genius and a massive success. If, like me, you are a fan of musical theater, you will recognize the concept as coming straight out of the Robert Morse musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (a great show and well worth watching the film version on DVD). In the musical, the game show doesn't work out well. In real life, Burnett will have to somehow deal with problems such as accusations of leaking money locations to associates on the outside, people getting in legal trouble digging holes in public and private property, and the possibility of somebody getting hurt or killed in the pursuit of the gold (Imagine two or more people figuring out a location at the same time and fighting over access. Plus, somebody will end up digging on a buried cable, sewer line, or live electrical wire. Should be big fun.)
The article started me thinking that web conferencing has not really broken out as an entertainment medium yet. There has to be a growth market for people to use the interactive nature of web conferencing to produce more games and leisure activities, rather than just marketing and training. As in most uses of technology, the pornography industry early on found a way to make money with webcams integrated with interactive chat. I don't pass moral judgment on such things, but it should be a wake-up call for others willing to take the ideas forward in other more mainstream areas.
Webcasting as a one-way broadcast device is certainly growing by leaps and bounds. As the article mentions, last year's Live 8 concerts had better content than the television broadcasts of the same material! Now we need to ramp up the interactivity and associated content in ways that exploit more 2-way features of web conferencing. I'm predicting some interesting and unexpected developments in this area over the next few years. Stay tuned.