The Cluetrain Manifesto
It has to do with the things of the world that quench our thirsts and raise our souls. It has to do with our fear of replacing the shops — and the neighborhoods they enable — with a paper-souled efficiency that lets us search out and consume commodity products at disquietingly low prices.
Were afraid that the last shred of human skin left on the bones of commerce is about to come off in our hands. We want to know how well reconnect to the other people in the market: buyers and sellers, people we know or whose faces are the landscape of our life in the agora.
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And we have this fear precisely because the e-commerce question has been asked wrongly so often, as if once commerce becomes virtual it will become cruelly automatic.
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We need to ask the heartfelt question about how were going to talk about the things we care about, or e-commerce will indeed become nothing but the soundless scrape of coins over the wire.
Heres another question — top of the hit parade, actually — that steers us in a wrong direction as surely as asking, How can I drive straight to Hell, buddy? The question is, What are we going to do about pornography on the Web? This question seems to have nothing to do with business, but in fact it goes straight to the heart of maintaining a corporate wall between employees and customers, between internal and external behavior.
The question has to do with drawing the line between the public and the private — no trivial matter since looking at the line is the quick and dirty way we decide whos civilized and whos savage, whos refined and whos a brute.
The line between public and private is, of course, arbitrary, although we adamantly deny this by using every method of intimidation, from the law to dirty looks, to maintain it.
The main point of the line is that there be a line — one that we can control.
And then we turn on our computer and filth comes pouring out of every orifice, from our e-mail inbox to our browser.
Go to whitehouse.com and you discover its a porn site. (Hint: next time, try whitehouse.gov.) Open an e-mail titled "The info you asked about...
" and get lewd invitations. Mistype a single letter of a Web address and youre staring at strange genitals in strange configurations.
The Web isnt just redrawing the line, its changing the nature of the line, making it explicitly permeable. But a new type of line means a new type of public.
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So, our hearts ask questions, with dread as well as excited curiosity, about the new public world and its relation to the private. What is the relation of our night selves and our day selves, our self behind the company walls and outside of them? Why do we think of our private selves as our real selves? What would privacy be like if it werent connected to shame? What is the fierce price we pay for every desire, every whim, every idea we stamp "Secret"? To what degree are shame and embarrassment the expression of the will to control? If we abandon the illusion of controlling private behavior, what type of public-ness will we have? How is the control we yearn to exert over the behavior of others — at work and beyond — identical with the white-knuckle control we need to preserve our selves?
More questions meant to distract us: How will we know whats junk on the Web and whats worth believing? How will we avoid being fooled by anyone with a plausible story and a Web address? What will be the new criteria, the new marks of authenticity? These questions express a longing for someone to take charge of our knowledge.
We want experts and authorities, just as we crave censors more than we crave sex and prefer certainty to freedom.
But our hearts have a different set of questions: when we cant rely on a central authority — the government, the newspaper, the experts in the witness box — for our information, what new ways of believing will we find? How will we be smart in a world where its easier to look something up than to know it? How will we learn to listen to ideas in context, to information inextricably tied to the voice thats uttering it? How can we reverse our habit of understanding matters by jumping to further levels of abstraction and instead learn to dig into the concrete, the personal, and the unique, told as stories worthy of our time?
We are — all of us — asked questions like, How will we manage (control) virtual workers in a distributed organization? when our hearts want to know how we are going to live with our families again.
We are asked, How are we going to keep our children safe on the Internet? when our hearts also want to know what it would be like to be a child who can talk within the worlds society of children.
Were asked, How can you tell if the person youre talking with is really the person youre talking with? when our hearts want to know what people we will really become online and what having a disembodied identity will mean.
We are asked, How are the poor people of the world going to get Internet access? when our hearts want to know how we can connect with the poor of the world, because there isnt a single person we dont want to talk with.
And once we talk, we know the conversation will make palpable the injustice of todays economics.
Our job now is not to answer questions.
It is to listen past the questions based on fear and to hear the questions of the heart. Why? Because the proper answer to a heartfelt question is a conversation, and conversations make the world.
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Good then. That ought to put all the wrongheaded questions to rest, right? No, of course not.
Business-as-usual being what it is, the questions never quit. Companies have said yes, the Cluetrain ideas are interesting, but give us a place to start.
A methodology. A suite of best practices maybe.
“Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:” Adam tedrad ignorance for knowledge just like the citizens of Pleasantville and he had to take responsibility for his actions.In Pleasantville, Bud and Mary Sue act as mentors to the people of Pleasantville. They give the citizens knowledge about life outside of Pleasantville and help guide them. Bud teaches the firemen how to put out a fire, and he teaches his boss, Mr. Johnson how to be self-sufficient and how to adapt to different situations. Bud and Mary Sue teach the students of Pleasantville about books, and they tell them different stories. This breaks the mentor archetype, because there are two mentors, both Bud and Mary Sue act as mentors to the citizens of Pleasantville.Over time archetypal characters and plots change because different authors break the archetypes. There are more versions of archetypes now than there were before, as authors adapt them to fit their stories.
A set of guidelines. For Gods sake, something!
"Whats the bottom line?" they want to know.
"How can my company profit from the coming transcultural train wreck? How can we leap tall buildings in Internet time, innovate faster than a speeding data packet, and establish Peace, Justice, and the American Way in hyperlinked global markets?"