©2000 Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger
"The Internet changes what we mean when we say we mean business. [ Cluetrain] explores the profound depths of this change to deliver an analysis that will enlighten and challenge you, make you laugh, or drive you crazy." (Michael Wolff, Burn Rate)
The text of this book was originally published in 1999 online for free - right before the Dot Com Bust - but the lessons are even more crucial today. Certainly, we overestimated some hotshot young upstarts in 2000, but today, the web is coming into it's own. Especially with consumer power. This is where markets become conversations. One blogger can bring down an entire empire (just google Kryptonite). If you haven't listened to or read this book, you have to before it's too late.
It is very relevant despite being 9 years old. More to the point the advent of social media breaking down the barriers to customers even further very useful. The concept of "the market" in the oldest sense of the word is very powerful, people meeting, talking sometimes buying sometimes simply sharing information ensures your customers are sticky. There are way too many websites that are simply screen based brochures still in 2009.
When you are writing about a technology it is very easy for that writing to sound out dated and irrelevant very quickly. The Cluetrain Manifesto was written almost a decade ago and yet it reads as though it was written yesterday (if you ignore the hotbot and altavista references). This is quite an achievement and quite refreshing to be such an enjoyable listen all these years on.
I read this piece — which was written before 9/11, before Google and Facebook, before the iPad, before the cloud, and before the browser wars ended — as a historic document. And in general I was surprised on two levels. First, that most big companies, all having embraced the internet as the game-changing paradigm that it is, still haven't gotten a clue about how to treat or talk to their customers. And two, how much of what the authors suggest and envision has been proven correct. The bits they got wrong — like the importance of "zines" and the pervasiveness of "extranets" — are mildly risible. Perhaps its time to update this manifesto. I'd say it's a worthwhile endeavor.
If you prefer Hotwired to The Economist, James Carville to David Brinkley, and Tom Peters to Peter Drucker, you will probably enjoy this book. It cheers the power of the Internet to create productive informal relationships between people.
The book's primary message is "Markets are conversations." It should have been "Marketing is a conversation."
Economic transactions are the exchange of information as well as economic goods and money. The authors are right to condemn the traditional tendency to focus too much on the exchange of economic goods for money. By overstating their case, the authors imply that we can safely ignore the exchange of economic goods and money. As many dot.com investors learned the hard way, dominating a particular conversational niche on the Internet does not automatically lead to success in business.
As a book about marketing over the Internet, this book deserves four stars. As a book about Internet economics or information age management, it deserves none.
The authors seem to love the sound of their own words. The book (or at least the first quarter, which is all I could listen to) consists of assertions about how companies will need to radically change to meet the challenge of the internet. They may be right, but they provide neither data nor argument to support their positions.
If you like to read "manifestos" generally, perhaps the arrogance of the authors will not bother you, but it did bother me.
This book is self-absorbed and monotonous. It seems to assume the reader is an idiot and the way to salvation in the internet age is to trash all norms. I get the impression that the author is drunk on his own rhetoric. Maybe too many people took his advice and caused the dot-com bubble to break.
"Powerful annoyingly read"
A fundamental read for anyone in business only spoiled by some annoying narration. In the end I ended buying the hard copy as well.
A really interesting view on the internet and how it is changing how we do business. Found it as it was referred to in 7 Habits...
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