Cluetrain Perspectives: Right or Wrong?

by Jay Deragon on 02/13/2008

Cluetrain Perspectives: Right or Wrong?Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, did a anniversary presentation at the SAP offices in New York City today and his comments were summed up by Charlene Li on a blog post at Social Media Today that is worth sharing. Charlene writes :

“Doc Searls started talking about the genesis of The Cluetrain Manifesto. This was fascinating to me. He started with reflections of the overblown 90’s (Push, Pointcast). “Customers treated as plankton.” A reaction to the overblown venture investments in “capturing eyeballs” in the 90s.”

“The genesis of a lot of those ideas as he described (e.g. 95 theses, “markets are conversations”) sounds as if it wasn’t all that thoughtful. And didn’t take that long to write. But what made these ideas so fresh and powerful (my opinion here) is that it was obvious to them long before anyone else was even thinking about it. The cluetrain authors were unafraid to talk about it frankly. And — this is important — they had each other to bounce things off of.”

“Does it hold up after 10 years? Rereading it — and listening to Doc — it does. The strident tone seems a bit “of its time” — that is, they were screaming about things you don’t have to scream about any more. But the content seems as true as it did when it was written.”

“But Doc has remained way out in front of what’s happening, rather than consolidating the gains we made in getting to the Cluetrain world.”

“I love Doc’s take on Web 2.0. He implies that O’Reilly’s emphasis on the software is misplaced — and wants to know why he uses advertising as his first example. I concur. The real change is about people and how they relate to business — software is the enabler. Fascinating, as Doc points out, that Google search “Web 2.0″ search yields ads about Advertising.”

“He’s still got a problem with advertisers and advertising — including on Facebook. Searls’ updated theses (numbering is not a mistake — he skipped a few)”

1. Advertising as we know it will die.

2. Herding people into walled gardens and guessing about what makes them “social” will seem as absurd as it actually is. (Facebook is his example.)

3. We will realize that the most important producers are what we used to call consumers. (Yup.)

4. The value chain will be replaced by the value constellation. (Many connections.)

5. “What’s your business model?” will no longer be asked of everything. (What’s the business model for your kids?)

6. We will make money by maximizing “because effects”. (“Because effects” are what happen when you make more money because of something than with it.) E.g. search and blogging.

8. We will be able to manage vendors at least as well as they manage us. (Agreements between companies and customers shouldn’t be skewed in favor of the companies.) At Harvard Law they call this VRM — vendor relationship management — which is what Searls is working on (

10. We’ll marry the live web to the value constellation. (The Live Web isn’t just about stars. Relationships of anybody to anybody.)

Examples: The personal RFP — find me what I need (driven by buyer not seller) I should be able to manage my own health care data. I should be able to inquire and relate to whole markets on the fly. I think Doc is still a radical — a bomb-thrower, a provocateur. But to create real change, you have to be a revolutionary — someone who engages with the powers that be to create major change. We need radicals. But we need revolutionaries too.

We’ve come to know Doc personally and all we can say is his mind sees the obvious while the masses see and engage in the clutter of the moment. Doc’s heart is as deep as his mind is broad and his perspectives are worthy of attention to those wishing to lead rather than follow.

Seeing things as they are and speaking to the obvious is frank, honest and given his reach and influence his perspectives are disruptive. Disruption is what we need to maximize the social web benefits in front of us by letting go of the paradigms behind us.

What say you?

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