The Cluetrain Manifesto
One thing any such effort requires is an extraordinarily efficient means of communication. We didn't used to have one.
Telephones just didn't cut it.
Then, irony of ironies, along comes the Internet.
It was as if we'd ordered it from Amazon: "Hello, U.S. Federal Government? Yes, we'd like one totally open, high-speed data backbone.
Uh-huh, and charge that to the Department of Defense, why don't you? What's that? What do we want it for? Oh, just chatting about stuff. You know, this and that…"
Invisibility is freedom.
At first it feels awful that no one can see you, that nobody's paying attention. Darn! But you get used to it.
We've had two hundred years to get used to it. Then one day you find yourself on a network, networking, and it dawns on you that it's like walking through walls.
W33VNy <a href="http://gxyzssvtmwxz.com/">gxyzssvtmwxz</a>
Wow! Like some comic-book-mystic Ninja warrior! That's pretty cool. You can get away with saying things you could never say if anyone took you seriously.
Dilbert is just a comic strip. Hah-hah.
Beavis and Butthead is just a cartoon. Heh-heh.
And if anyone comes sniffing around and wonders if this Internet stuff could be maybe dangerous, culturally subversive, it's oh, hey, never mind us. We're just goofing off over here on the Web.
No threat. Carry on.
As you were.
But we aren't just goofing off.
We're organizing: building and extending the Net itself, crafting tools and communities, new ways of speaking, new ways of working, new ways of having fun. And all this is happening, has happened so far, without rules and laws, without managers and managed.
It's self-organizing. People by the millions are discovering how to negotiate, cooperate, collaborate — to create, to explore, to enjoy themselves.
But what's the point, asks business? Business always wants there to be a point, a goal, an objective, a plan. Otherwise, how would we manage?
There never was any grand plan on the Internet, and there isn't one today.
The Net is just the Net. But it has provided an extraordinarily efficient means of communication to people so long ignored, so long invisible, that they're only now figuring out what to do with it.
Funny thing: lawless, planless, management-free, they're figuring out what to do with the Internet much faster than government agencies, academic institutions, media conglomerates, and Fortune-class corporations.
So what is the Net really good for? Besides chatting, that is. Well, there's the small matter of coordinating distribution.
Remember those ancient markets from way back in the first chapter where we talked about trade routes and the cities that grew up where they intersected? Where caravans arrived with exotic merchandise and tried to sell their wares.
"Figs here! Delicious figs!"
"Give me one. Figs want to be free."
"I won't buy from you if I can't have a taste.
From where I'm standing, your figs smell like your camel pissed on them."
"My camel is very well behaved. He never urinates."
But enough about early advertising.
One thing the Net is good for is organizing markets. Especially if you're invisible and powerless, ignorant of how things are supposed to work, ignorant of business-as-usual.
Especially if you're intent on end-running the empire.
Who has the stuff we like? Who makes the stuff we need? Interest, curiosity, craft, and voice combine to create powerful self-organizing marketplaces on the Web: "Figs here, delicious figs!" Or it might be a faster chip, an elegant bit of code, a new idea, a joke, a line of poetry, a job.
Stuff, as the digital world has taught us, isn't always stuff. And coordinating how it gets distributed is more like a cocktail party than a strategy session.
Stuff gets around the way word gets around. Along the same routes.
Around the same obstacles. Though motivated by altogether different principles than those driving business, this is not as chaotic as it may sound, nor as inefficient.
It's happening right now, every day. It works.
"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!"
We've talked about the ideas you've just been reading with hundreds and thousands of people online who don't ask for additional explanation.
Yeah, they say simply, damn straight. These are people who "get it," as the saying goes.
They don't need explanations; they already know how it works.
"But...but..." you may sputter, "those are just disgruntled 'Net-heads' — I read all about them in Time or TV Guide or Sports Illustrated or somewhere.
Those unemployable fringe types who never amount to anything anyway.…"
Don't bet on it. Here's a small handful of the radical organizations in which people who signed the manifesto work: Bank of America, Boeing, Cap Gemini, Cisco, Comcast, Compaq, Computer Sciences Corporation, Dow Jones, EDS, Ericsson, FedEx, Fleet Credit Card Services, Herman Miller, IBM, Intergraph, Kaiser Permanente, Kellogg, Kinko's, KPMG, Levi Strauss & Company, Lucent Technologies, Merck, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, New York Life Insurance, Novell, Ogilvy Public Relations, Oracle, PeopleSoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Qualcomm, Saturn, Sears, Sema Group, Siemens, Sun Microsystems, US Interactive, the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service, US West, USWeb/CKS, Wang, WR Hambrecht + Co., Ziff-Davis.
Stereotyping is a bitch, ain't it? Clichés are so comfortable and easy.
Business is fat-cat moguls meeting in posh boardrooms atop steel-and-glass towers high above the jostling masses in the street. Stereotypes usually have some basis in reality, but they're lousy tools with which to frame critical judgments.
More often than not, business happens in the streets, not above them. And so do revolutions.
But if you're looking for Molotov cocktails and tear gas, beleaguered cops and firebrand radicals, you're bound to miss what's really happening. Ruth Perkins of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement wrote to us, "Thank you for solidifying the thoughts and mission I've had for so long.
I'm a wholehearted signer and practitioner of your manifesto."
Just because you're not seeing a revolution — or what Hollywood has told you a revolution ought to look like — doesn't mean there isn't one going down.