Debra, Rachel, and I are on vacation in Amsterdam and we visited the Anne Frank House today.  We read her diary when we were young, as so many students around the world do.  It was an incredibly touching experience to see the Secret Annex in person and will make this Rosh Hashanah an especially memorable one to us.

Photo of the Anne Frank House Museum

Given the focus of my current business, I immediately contrasted Anne Frank's diary to our current age of citizen journalism, user-generated content, or, simply, blogging.  The main difference between a blog and a diary is that one is a public medium while the other is a private one.  However, both beg to be read although their agendas may be different.  I wonder how Anne Frank's diary would have been different had it been a blog.  Would it express the same intense human condition that made her diary so famous?  It certainly would be more widely read immediately (and commented on in real-time as the events unfolded).  How would the world have reacted to it at that time?  How would her father, who was so surprised to learn about the private side of Anne that he never knew?  Would the Holocaust have even been possible in this age of the Internet and blogging?  My guess on that last question is no – for the connected world.  But, unfortunately, for the less connected, it happens all too frequently (as we currently see in Darfur).

At the end of the tour, there are two modern exhibits which evoked a sense of community.

The first is called "Freedom2Choose" and showed controversial media from all over the world about homosexuality, public marches, freedom of the press, and other current examples of issues.  You then voted on your stance on the issue.  The community part: everyone in the room voted with you and then the results were shown in real-time and compared with all previous visitors.  On many of the issues, people were close to evenly divided and it made you realize how diverse the viewpoints were of everyone in the room.  I searched for a Web component to this (wondering how they used the votes to further educate), but haven't been able to find it yet.

The second, the Anne Frank Tree, is Web-connected.  Anne could view the chestnut tree from the attic window of the Secret Annex.  This is an interactive tree that encourages visitors of the museum to leave their leaf, as well as a video message, that they can forward to their friends and family.  Click around on the tree and you may be able to find our leaf.  When leaving a leaf, you can also subscribe to receive emails from the Anne Frank Museum.  This is a smart way to both connect visitors to the museum and also to spark word-of-mouth for others to learn about the museum.  It also is a very tasteful way to do so (for example, the email is double opt-in).

Further visiting online, I found that the Anne Frank organization has recently become very modern and connected.   Check out their photo contest, "Sources of Inspiration", with the accompanying MSN Spaces page.  I was glad to see this as young readers from around the world (read the "IM Generation") will expect this kind of interactivity, and it will encourage them to further engage and learn.

Anne Frank, who died at 15 in a concentration camp (one month before the liberation), would be amazed to see the impact her diary has had on so many millions of people.  It is currently available in over 60 languages.  I think she would also applaud the way her message is being delivered at the Museum as well as online.

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news.  The good news is that you don't know how great you can be!  How much you can love!  What you can accomplish!  And what your potential is!"
Anne Frank, 1929-1945

6 Responses to “The Anne Frank Tree and Word-of-Mouth”

  1. Dear Brett,

    I tried to contact you via your contact form, but it does not seem to work (HTML tags are added)

    First of all, as a member of the Anne Frank House web team, I feel very honored by your positive review of our online activities. This is what we all do it for! Second of all I would like to ask you if you are willing to promote the 2007 edition of our photo contest ‘Sources of Inspiration’. Either on your weblog and/or via your offline network. We would love to receive some entries from the U.S. Below I added information about the contest. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Kind regards,

    Fiona

    Anne Frank Photo Contest ‘Sources of Inspiration’ 2007
    In cooperation with World Press Photo and MSN the Anne Frank House is again organising the photo contest ‘Sources of Inspiration’ this year. Young people worldwide can send in photos about one of the seven themes Anne Frank wrote about in her diary: freedom, goodness, giving, courage, happiness, humanity and usefulness. First prize: a Canon EOS 400D and a VIP reception at the Anne Frank House, including one night in a hotel for two people. The contest closes 1 October 2007.
    Entries will be judged by 12 talented young photographers attending the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass 2007:
    – Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Iraq
    – Olivia Arthur, United Kingdom
    – Christoph Bangert, Germany
    – Kate Brooks, USA
    – Alexandra Demenkova, Russia
    – Agnes Dherbeys, France
    – Cédric Gerbehaye, Belgium
    – Rafal Milach, Poland
    – Munem Wasif, Bangladesh
    – Sirio Magnabosco, Italy
    – Irina Werning, Argentina/Germany
    – Xin Zhou, People’s Republic of China

    For more information please visit http://www.annefrank.org/contest. A selection from the entries so far can be found on http://annefrankanno2006english.spaces.live.com/.

  2. Dear Brett,

    I tried to contact you via your contact form, but it does not seem to work (HTML tags are added)

    First of all, as a member of the Anne Frank House web team, I feel very honored by your positive review of our online activities. This is what we all do it for! Second of all I would like to ask you if you are willing to promote the 2007 edition of our photo contest ‘Sources of Inspiration’. Either on your weblog and/or via your offline network. We would love to receive some entries from the U.S. Below I added information about the contest. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Kind regards,

    Fiona

    Anne Frank Photo Contest ‘Sources of Inspiration’ 2007
    In cooperation with World Press Photo and MSN the Anne Frank House is again organising the photo contest ‘Sources of Inspiration’ this year. Young people worldwide can send in photos about one of the seven themes Anne Frank wrote about in her diary: freedom, goodness, giving, courage, happiness, humanity and usefulness. First prize: a Canon EOS 400D and a VIP reception at the Anne Frank House, including one night in a hotel for two people. The contest closes 1 October 2007.
    Entries will be judged by 12 talented young photographers attending the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass 2007:
    – Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Iraq
    – Olivia Arthur, United Kingdom
    – Christoph Bangert, Germany
    – Kate Brooks, USA
    – Alexandra Demenkova, Russia
    – Agnes Dherbeys, France
    – Cédric Gerbehaye, Belgium
    – Rafal Milach, Poland
    – Munem Wasif, Bangladesh
    – Sirio Magnabosco, Italy
    – Irina Werning, Argentina/Germany
    – Xin Zhou, People’s Republic of China

    For more information please visit http://www.annefrank.org/contest. A selection from the entries so far can be found on http://annefrankanno2006english.spaces.live.com/.

  3. Brett Hurt

    Thanks Marque for your compliment. We really enjoyed visiting your country and appreciate the rich history that Amsterdam and the surrounding areas in Holland have to offer.

  4. Brett Hurt

    Thanks Marque for your compliment. We really enjoyed visiting your country and appreciate the rich history that Amsterdam and the surrounding areas in Holland have to offer.

  5. Brett,

    It was nice to read that you were on holiday in my hometown.
    The Anne Frank house is one of the most important places here and it is only when I read people blog about it when I again do realize this.
    I liked to way you connected your experience to what´s happening on the web.
    I also like what you guys are doing for the web to much we forget that one of the most powerful assets of the web is to share information and to connect.
    marque

  6. Brett,

    It was nice to read that you were on holiday in my hometown.
    The Anne Frank house is one of the most important places here and it is only when I read people blog about it when I again do realize this.
    I liked to way you connected your experience to what´s happening on the web.
    I also like what you guys are doing for the web to much we forget that one of the most powerful assets of the web is to share information and to connect.
    marque

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