The Cluetrain Manifesto on the rebirth of conversations

IMHO, the Cluetrain Manifesto
is still the most visionary book, indeed a feast of recognition, of how
the Internet is accelerating the shift from broadcast to search, from
push to pull, from controlled messaging to open conversation.

From where I stand, the three most relevant themes in the Cluetrain are:

  1. The significance of conversations, and how the Internet is bringing them back.
  2. Why and how businesses need to change as a result.
  3. The power of storytelling.

Below is my collection of references from the book, with an emphasis on the first theme, the rebirth of conversations.

[UPDATE, July 29, 2007: Doc Searls refers to my excerpts from the cluetrain on The Doc Searls Weblog:  Saturday, July 28, 2007. In response, I submit that we should combine the teachings of the Cluetrain and the Long Tail theory to be able to engage in the conversations that matter most to us.]

Preface: David Weinberger

Page xi: "(…) we realized that what we had been thinking
individually fell into place if you considered the Web to be not a new
medium or a new place to shop or a new way to make a fast million, but
to be what it literally is: a global set of conversations – people
talking together, in their own voices, about what they care about. The
passion of the Web is remaking every social structure it’s meeting,
including government, education, entertainment and, yes, business.
(…)"

Foreword: Thomas Petzinger, Jr. – The Wall Street Journal

Page xvii: "(…) The idea that business, at bottom, is
fundamentally human. That engineering remains second-rate without
aesthetics. That natural, human conversation is the true language of
commerce. That corporations work best when the people on the inside
have the fullest contact possible with the people on the outside.

And most importantly, that however ancient, timeless, and true,
these principles are just now resurging across the business world. The
triggering event, of course, is the advent of a global communication
system that restores the banter of the bazaar, that tears down power
structures and senseless bureaucracies, that puts everyone in touch
with everyone. (…)"

CHAPTER 1: Internet Apocalypso – Christopher Locke

Page 3: "(…) In the early 1990s, there was nothing like the
Internet we take for granted today. Back then, the Net was primitive,
daunting, uninviting. So what did we come for? And the answer is: each
other. (…)"

Page 15: "(…) Conversations are where intellectual capital
gets generated. But business environments based on command-and-control
are usually characterized by intimidation, coercion, and threats of
reprisal. In contrast, genuine conversation flourishes only in an
atmosphere of free and open exchange. (…)"

Page 17: "(…) [T]he future business of businesses that have
a future will be about subtle differences, not wholesale conformity;
about diversity, not homogeneity; about breaking rules, not enforcing
them; about pushing the envelope, not punching the clock; about
invitation, not protection; about doing it first, not doing it "right";
about making it better, not making it perfect; about telling the truth,
not spinning bigger lies; about turning people on, not "packaging"
them; and perhaps above all, about building convivial communities and
knowledge ecologies, not leveraging demographic sectors. (…)"

Page 22: "(…) If the company doesn’t come through with the
kind of information and delivery that turns [individuals] on – provides
learning, advances careers, and nurtures the unbridled joy of creation
– well, hey, they’ll just do it elsewhere. Maybe in the garage. (…)"

Page 32: "(…) How do these conversations get started? How
do people with common interests find each other? How does anyone find
anything online? The simple answer is the theme of this book: word gets
around. (…)"

CHAPTER 2: The Longing – David Weinberger

Page 45: "(…) Released from gray-flannel handcuffs, we say
anything, curse like sailors, rhyme like bad poets, flame against our
own values, just for the pure delight of having a voice.

And when the thrill of hearing ourselves speak again wears off, we will begin to build a new world.

That is what the Web is for. (…)"

CHAPTER 3: Talk Is Cheap – Rick Levine

Page 51: "(…) Our elevator pitch (…):

People talk to each other. In open, straightforward conversations.
Inside and outside organizations. The inside and outside conversations
are connecting. We have no choice but to participate in them.

If there’s any newness, it’s in how the Net and the Web change the
balance of the conversational equation. Technology is putting a
sharper, more urgent point on the importance of conversation.
Conversations are moving faster, touching more people, and bridging
greater distances than we’re used to. (…)"

Page 61: "(…) One definition of community is a group of people who care about each other more than they have to. (…)"

CHAPTER 4: Markets Are Conversations – Doc Searls

Page 77: "(…) For thousands of years, we knew exactly what
markets were: conversations between people who sought out others who
shared the same interests. Buyers had as much to say as sellers. They
spoke directly to each other without the filter of media, the artifice
of positioning statements, the arrogance of advertising, or the shading
of public relations. (…)"

Page 79: "(…) One problem: there is no demand for messages.
The customer doesn’t want to hear from business, thank you very much.
The message that gets broadcast to you, me, and the rest of the earth’s
population has nothing to do with me in particular. It’s worse than
noise. It’s an interruption. It’s the Anti-Conversation. (…)"

Page 82: "(…) The Net is a real place where people can go
to learn, to talk to each other, and to do business together. It is a
bazaar where customers look for wares, vendors spread goods for
display, and people gather around topics that interest them. It is a
conversation. At last and again. (…)"

Page 85: "(…) The power of conversation goes well beyond
its ability to affect consumers, business, and products. Market
conversations can make – and unmake and remake – entire industries.
We’re seeing it happen now. In fact, the Internet itself is an example
of an industry built by pure conversation. (…)"

Page 86: "(…) Eric Raymond, in his seminal work on hacker
culture, The Cathedral And The Bazaar, describes the dynamics of this
distributed and self-motivated community of independent programmers.

(…) Both the Internet and Linux are powerful demonstrations of a
pure market conversation at work. (…) As Raymond writes: (…) If you
can offer people the chance to do good work and be seen doing good work
by their peers, that’s a really powerful motivator.

(…) The most important lesson Linux hackers teach is that whole
markets can rapidly arise out of conversations that are independent not
only of business, but also of government, education, and other powerful
but hidebound institutions, thanks in large measure to something
hackers helped invent precisely for that purpose: the Internet. (…)"

Page 90: "(…) Fairfax Cone, one of the great men of
advertising, said his craft was nothing more than "what you do when you
can’t go see somebody." This simple distinction draws a perfect line
between TV and the Web. TV is the best medium ever created for
advertising. The Web is the best medium ever created for sales. (…)"

Page 95: "(…) Driving margins towards zero isn’t a good
thing. Businesses have to make money, after all. (…) But it’s early
yet. And merchants are smart. They offer new services that will
distract the market from its insistence on extracting vengeance by
shaving margins with a guillotine. And what are those emerging
services, hmm? Conversations.

(…) In short, although there is no demand for messages, there is a tremendous demand for good conversation. (…)"

CHAPTER 5: The Hyperlinked Organization – David Weinberger

Page 123: "(…) [T]he hyperlinks that replace the org chart
as the primary structure of the organization are in fact conversations.
They are the paths talk takes. And a business is, more than anything
else, the set of conversations going on.

(…) Conversations are where ideas happen and partnerships are
formed. Sometimes they create commitments (in Fernando Flores’ sense),
but more often they’re pulling people through fields of common interest
with no known destination. The structure of conversations is always
hyperlinked and is never hierarchical (…)"

Page 131: "(…) Org charts are written by the victors. But
hyperlinks are created by people finding other people they trust,
enjoy, and, yes, in some ways love. (…)"

Page 149: "(…) If you want understanding, you have to
reenter the human world of stories. If you don’t have a story, you
don’t have understanding. (…) I don’t mean fiction or stories heavy
with plot; I mean narratives that string events together in time and
show them unfolding. (…)"

Page 151: "(…) We live in stories. We breathe stories. Most
of our best conversations are about stories. Stories are a big step
sidewise and up from information:

  • Unlike information, they have a start and a finish. The order counts a lot.
  • They talk about events, not conditions.
  • They imply a deep relationship among the events, a relationship
    characterized overall as "unfolding" as if the end were present in the
    beginning – as of course it almost always is (as was foretold, in a
    fractally recursive sense, by Aristotle at our culture’s beginning).
  • Stories are about particular humans; no substitutions allowed.
  • Unlike a set of economic forecasts or trends analysis, they do not
    pretend to offer the certainty that life will continue to work this
    way. (On the other hand, the story is more likely to be correct than
    the forecast because it takes all of our current understanding of the
    world to accept a story.)
  • Stories are told in a human voice. It matters who’s telling it.

So, stories are not a lot like information. But they are the way we
understand. (…) Stories are how we make sense of things. (…)"

CHAPTER 6: EZ Answers – Christopher Locke and David Weinberger

Page 163: "(…) As a result of the profound and unexpected
changes wrought by the Net, the two-hundred-year-long industrial
interruption of the human conversation is finally coming to an end,
both inside companies and in the marketplace. That’s what
http://www.cluetrain.com basically had to say when it hit the Web in 1999.
(…)"

Page 165: "(…) Via intranets, workers are already speaking
among themselves. Via the Internet, markets are already speaking among
themselves. The convergence of these two conversations is not only
necessary, but inevitable. Why? Because markets, unencumbered by
corporate bureaucracy and the need to ask permission at every turn, are
learning faster than organizations. Markets are therefore coming into a
new ascendancy, a fancy way of saying "We rule, dude!" And
increasingly, we value only two qualities:

  1. The engagement and passion-for-quality of genuine craft.
  2. Conversations among recognizably human voices. (…)"

Page 176: "(…) "Follow the money" may still apply, but to find the money in the first place, follow the conversation.

In this book, we have tried to paint a picture of radical changes
that are taking place today, aided and abetted by the Internet. But to
people who’ve already lived in the Net for a while, these changes
aren’t perceived as radical at all. They’re second nature. On the Web
page we asked people to sign in support of the Cluetrain Manifesto, one
comment was repeated over and over: "It’s about time!" (…)"

"(…) Nowadays, more and more, cheap web hosting companies are coming into the market declaring that they are the best cheap hosting providers. It is a very tricky decision for any one to find web host provider which has the best quality web hosting services. When you are looking for the web site design or layout, you can beautify it as much as you want with graphics, colors and images, but what about the basic site design, do you opt for a typical template, or a unique design? So why not take help from the web hosting providers. They can provide good web design development techniques and styles. They also provide marketing services like email marketing, seo marketing and ppc marketing. It is very simple for a web to access the information which is saved in the server by browsing and logging into the website via an IP address or by domain name search.
(…)"

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