Monday, October 20, 2008

Get a CLUEtrain... Manifesto, that is!

Almost 9 years ago, when I was first going into the workforce full time I was lucky to participate in the first dot com. I had been playing with the Internet since 1994, so by 1999 I felt like I understood the evolution so far well enough to notice the opporutnities ahead.

In a way the Internet has flattened the world, and it has also changed everything we do, from buying things, to making friends and playing with other people to the way we work together.

Back in early 2000 I came upon a company that I fell in love with. Audible.com had the best internet product I had seen to date. Living outside of the U.S. the possibility to get the latest bestsellers delivered to my MP3 player (which they also bundled as part of their customer acquisition strategy) was a dream come true. For a year I got a new book every month, which ranged from the brilliant to the silly. Though the company struggled with a search for a business model that would allow them to continue profitably, I'm glad they made it.

One of the books I bought back in 2000 was The Cluetrain Manifesto. This book spoke how the Internet would change conversations with customers and employees and it opened my eyes to the great new world that was coming. After the crash I forgot about this audiobook in my collection, and having worked for a couple Fortune 100's since then, it's now very interesting to go back and listen to (or read if you prefer) the book.

The themes still apply so much it's uncanny. I think this is one of the great Internet business books that were written back in the late 90's that still hold true.

With the great evolution we have seen in 8/9 years, I'm amazed at how much of the basic premise of the book still holds true. Companies continue to attempt to control conversations in ways that prevent meaningful information to be exchanged. Some companies have developed blogs and systems to tear down some of the walls, but in most cases the transition is really slow.

During the past few months I have started to get back into the swing of blogging and listening to podcasts, and I get excited about all the new ideas that get shared that way. Makes the corporate memos tough to read, even those in blog form sound so polished that it's obvious that it lacks a voice.

As bloggers, employees and managers we should all practice the Manfiesto's points. After all, we all have a voice.

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