SxSW: Cluetrain Seven Years Later

by Luke Wroblewski March 14, 2006

The Cluetrain Manifesto: Seven Years Later panel at SxSW2006 talked about a bit about the origins of the Cluetrain philosophy and how accurate some of the predications in the original manifesto had been.

The manifesto was a reaction to the late nineties thinking that the Web was simply another venue for malls and advertising. Companies they’d basically port over their existing process. The authors of Cluetrain thought that was insane.

Markets are conversations they argued. Get your head out of the supply side (capture eyeballs, markets, etc.) of your business because on the demand side people can now organize and be stronger (than the supply side). The authors of Cluetrain “defected from marketing and sided with markets.” They were making a statement from the market to marketing (business).

Some ideas that were expanded upon:

  • Open source is the demand side supplying itself.
  • It’s less about Human Computer Interaction (HCI) than Human-to-Human Interaction (machine intelligence should be transparent). Even now, the dominant uses of the Internet are email and instant messaging.
  • Amateur is the wrong term for user-generated content. These people are enthusiasts. You have to give community something to do together.
  • The culture of the Web favors discovery. It empowers an audience to discover something new.
  • The Web is an extension of a company's products. Customers solve product problems and publish them on the Web. The Web is where a lot of people look to fix problems with products. The company is frequently cut out of the loop.
  • Agencies need to rethink how collaboration works. Many are using a minimal core staff w/ large network of collaborators.
  • Collaborators vs. employees: could this mean the death of the company as a construct?
  • Online, people can build very strong personal brands and become more influential than companies.

What’s next?

  • Asymmetrical Service: currently most broadband service is big download rates but small upload. The companies providing this service are thinking the wrong way- they still have broadcast mindset.
  • Appropriation of television in the living room as a network (RSS as TV shows)
  • Gaming: a trait that goes along with conversations; do things that they should not be able to do = social structure of 5,000 people without leadership; peer to peer interactivity
  • Unbundled TV (1080P) will drive huge explosion of independent TV and movie production. This will drive the asymmetry out of service.
  • The larger trend is independence. We are completing the enlightenment that was interrupted by industrial revolution. Currently, it's Collaboration & Conversation. The next stage is social and relationship management. Women are better suited to managing these types of companies.
  • Reputation: we are writing without editors as a result, we are all editors of each other. The value of everyone writing outweighs any errors that may happen as a result.
  • Human beings are built to learn. We are constantly learning from each other.
  • Authority: we are all authors of each other.