I’ve been reading the Cluetrain Manifesto (10th Anniversary Edition), a book that examines the impact of the Internet on both markets (consumers) and organizations. The over-the-top introduction reads like this (with minor editorial
A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most
These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.
corporationsgovernment agencies, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companiesagencies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.
But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will
corporationsagencies convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customerscitizens.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.
While many such people already work for
companiesgov’t agencies today, most companiesagencies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.
However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are.
CompaniesAgencies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets. CorporateAgency firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation businessgovernment has ever engaged in.
I was in pilot training when this book first came out, so I completely missed the viral-meme phenomenon. Now, as a Federal civilian who has recently taken to blogging, much of what the book has to say speaks to me deeply.
I now have personal experience with the Cluetrain: I got pushed in front of it.
I will tell that story in my next post, which will be on the ethics of blogging as a fed.