2006 - The Cluetrain Manifesto Revisited

Die Autoren des Cluetrain Manifesto

7 years after the first publication of the Cluetrain Manifesto the skies start to clear up again and for the first time in 5 years the tinytalk editorial office and the TinyTalk scientific department after much discussion dare to repeat their erstwhile diagnosis: The manifesto form (including the most famous one) is bullshit and gurus err, all the time, if only slightly but still gravely sometimes.

An explanation: When first reading this particular manifesto by Nick Levine, Christopher Locke, David Weinberger and Doc Searls, we were exited and happy. To bring a more humane and dialogue oriented culture to industry and markets, was that not one of our wishes exactly? Only when we saw how fast many interpreters of it used it for pretension and how fast it became a BSB dropping thing and led people to try false stuff did we become disappointed and started to think about what was wrong. Our (still preliminary) guess is, the manifesto form destroys differentiation. The Communist Manifesto did just that more than 150 years ago and many more did so in the time between.

Let's have a look now:

1. Markets are conversations. Markets are not conversations. Communication structures they are, but conversations they are definitely not. Conversations take place in real life bazaars which does not imply they take place in any market. Nobody talks back to Google, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft in an even way. What the term "markets" means today is not what markets and bazaars and trade fairs used to be in some past. You talk to the universe, machines talk to machines, some conservative powerful guys in Asia, Africa and South America get the numbers on paper and fix by handshake still, traders hit computer keys or smartphone buttons, the universe and transistor clusters talk back. Google AI, come on, analyze that!

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors. In reality, no matter what, demographic sectors are rightly called markets in many ways. Some products may profit from being individualized but most people in most fields rightly prefer standardized ware. Individual human beings are not stupid enough to selforganize into markets, only semiconscious large groups of people are. Humans organize into more complex and holistic things where ever more stuff but by far not every thing is handled by abstracted exchange. Market practice is only one aspect of this.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human.They are conducted in a human voice. That's correct in many ways but increasingly incorrect in others. It also has nothing to do with a clue or a train or whatever, it is mostly a trivial phrase to say. If "human" should be understood as the opposite of "juridical", "administrative" or "governmental", we doubt it helps, because a) that would be loaded with ideology and b) lawyers, administrators and the government then would be non-human. In the future and science fiction that might be the case but not right now and not on this planet. In reality this phrase is an invitation to take faking human talk a bit more serious.

4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived. Until now the human voice has not played a large role on the internet. The human voice has gone to mobile telephony so far. When it will come to the net, big time communications companies will start to go bankrupt. Where it is on the net it means writers think radio will make them more famous and people talking from person to person want to avoid stupid roaming fees. If easier to understand modern sentences are meant, it is not about proliferation of more "humanized" writing by everybody but about better work of marketing communications specialists.

5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice. People recognize each other as such from extremely complex sets of cognition and subliminal stuff including the very important aspect of sound. Voices can easily be emulated by impersonators. On the net humans recognize each other from letter-combinations such as nicknames, IRL-names, IRL-, e-mail- and messenger-addresses, telephone numbers and other ASCII and UTF-encoded IDs.

6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media. The internet is reinforcing communications among human beings that were quite ubiquitous in the area of the newspaper, the telephone, the radio and TV but were just not very visible to the highest elites in politics, media and academia any more. In the era of print people spent more money on letters amongst them than on magazines, newspapers and books. In the era of radio and television they spent more money on telephone calls than on both media combined. The difference is that these conversations were considered private and not public. Electronic media and especially networked computers, be they very big or very small, and granting everybody access to them, are tearing down the boundaries between private and public that print had so efficiently built up over the centuries and years from 1450 to 1877.

7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. Hyperlinks constitute complex new hierarchies and dependencies.

8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way. Internetworked markets make internetworked employees write and say things the confusedness of which was unimaginable a mere 30 years ago.

9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge. Computer networked conversations so far have rather amplified resimplified social imagos and expanded the exchange of awkward sexual snippetry.

10. As a result it gets boring to continue this list.

PS: Don't get us wrong, but sorry, media ecology is a tiny bit more complicated than that.

PPS: RoR is not the only solution on the planet, girls!

last updated: 05.04.22, 07:16

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