How would you classify a book that begins with the salutation, "People of Earth..."? While the captains of industry might dismiss it as mere science fiction, The Cluetrain Manifesto is definitely of this day and age. Aiming squarely at the solar plexus of corporate America, authors Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger show how the Internet is turning business upside down. They proclaim that, thanks to conversations taking place on Web sites and message boards, and in e-mail and chat rooms, employees and customers alike have found voices that undermine the traditional command-and-control hierarchy that organizes most corporate marketing groups. "Markets are conversations," the authors write, and those conversations are "getting smarter faster than most companies." In their view, the lowly customer service rep wields far more power and influence in today's marketplace than the well-oiled front office PR machine.
The Cluetrain Manifesto began as a Web site (www.cluetrain.com) in 1999 when the authors, who have worked variously at IBM, Sun Microsystems, the Linux Journal, and NPR, posted 95 theses that pronounced what they felt was the new reality of the networked marketplace. For example, thesis no. 2: "Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors"; thesis no. 20: "Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them"; thesis no. 62: "Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall"; thesis no. 74: "We are immune to advertising. Just forget it." The book enlarges on these themes through seven essays filled with dozens of stories and observations about how business gets done in America and how the Internet will change it all. While Cluetrain will strike many as loud and over the top, the message itself remains quite relevant and unique. This book is for anyone interested in the Internet and e-commerce, and is especially important for those businesses struggling to navigate the topography of the wired marketplace. All aboard! --Harry C. Edwards [via]