Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Cluetrain Manifesto: the end of business as usual

This book is really the philosophical foundation on which the current explosion in social media technologies is based. This is not to say that the four men who wrote the book created this philosophy, only that they recognized some fundamental truths well ahead of the rest of us.

Published in 2000, written a full decade ago, the four authors speak in voices that are authentic, irreverent and as relevant today as the day this was written. The true classic is one that stands up to the test of time in its truths and this book has held up well. Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger worked collaboratively on this project, but each speaks in his own "voice" in distinct sections of the book.

When I teach social media classes, I read a section of this book aloud entitled "Networked Markets" (pg. 82) to set the stage for why the new social media platforms came into being. The new technologies have enabled global conversations among people that were interrupted for a time by industrialization, mass production, mass communication and broadcasting. The Internet opened up the possibilities of having one-on-one meaningful conversations between businesses and their customers, and for customers to connect with each other in a concept we call communities.

Having worked on Barack Obama's campaign last year, I can tell you that what he did was made possible by the fundamental truths illuminated in this book. At the end of the day, online platforms and mobile technologies will continue to change at greater and greater speeds, but the fundamental need for human beings to engage in meaningful conversations will never go away. The need to speak and be understood is what makes us human.

I highly recommend this book! I don't believe the advent of new social media technologies can be fully understood without first grasping the concepts in the book.