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10 years on, The Cluetrain Manifesto
October 18, 2009 2:17 AM   Subscribe

In April, 1999, The Cluetrain Manifesto went live as a web site, followed shortly thereafter by a hardcover book version, and now, a 10th anniversary book edition.

This past summer, Tony Goodson caught up with 2 of the 4 original Cluetrain authors, Chris Locke and Rick Levine, for their thoughts, in podcast interview form, about the development of the Internet over the intervening 10 years, what it has meant in their lives, and what they expect of the future. Longish, wide ranging interviews, both in excess of 1:30. (The Cluetrain Manifesto previously on MeFi: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
posted by paulsc (36 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Cluetrain would have made more difference as the Cluemobile. Or the Cluerocket. Or the Cluetickets-to-paradise. Oh clue train sounding louder. Glide on the clue train.

What a lot of vapid spunk.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:38 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


*DINGDINGDINGDINgDIngDingdingdindindindin....*

(Just in case you missed it the first time.)
posted by markkraft at 2:39 AM on October 18, 2009


How's that working out for them?
posted by delmoi at 3:07 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I apologize for being honest. The Cluetrain is not the piss-poor thing that I said it was. A manifesto written by four people is exactly what the internet needs.

Sorry... I want to respect this, but it just rubs me wrong in so many ways.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:09 AM on October 18, 2009


vapid spunk

My favorite new band name.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:36 AM on October 18, 2009


I'm mostly confused why he only contacted two of the four authors, since both Weinberger and Searls are not what one would call "long-lost" and would probably jump at the chance to go over how awesome they thought The Cluetrain Manifesto was.
posted by jscott at 4:39 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


They expect me to listen to two guys wittering on about how awesome they are? Where's the transcript? Oh wait, that takes time and money to do. Can't do that. Everything should be free on the internet, of course. Buy my book which tells you how to make money by writing a book about how everything should be free on the internet, especially the bits about telling people to buy my book.
posted by scruss at 5:05 AM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


It struck me as being a day late and a dollar short - Mondo 2000, Wired ( Pre-Shark Jump) and Greenspun's book were already there. It did capture the overheated idiocy where everyone just assumed "nerd"=="business mogul" of the pre-pop Tech Bubble, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:31 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chris Locke's a friend of mine and a very smart man and a splendid writer.

The Cluetrain thing is and was an artifact of its time, and at the rate things change on the net, 10 years ago is an eternity. It really did feel like the world was changing in some interesting ways back then with its weblogs and its reinventing-of-business and its new rules and long tail and eyeball economy and all the rest of the idiotic tosh that made millionaires of the quick-off-the-mark. The excitement of the new frontier and all, even if you weren't getting rich off it, or building a reputation-yurt out on the digital steppes. I guess the world did change, but as usual, not at all in the ways pretty much anyone figured it would. It's amazing how quickly we can start to take for granted things that just yesterday were astonishing, how quickly the everything becomes banal.

Much of what the Cluetrain guys had to say seems old hat or self-evident, slightly silly or self-regarding, wildly optimistic about the degree to which corporate interests might be prevented from taking over the new virtual landscape as much as the physical, sure. But there was enough there that was newish and excitingish at the time to make a splash. That the splash has, in the fullness of time, been perhaps more interesting that the rock itself, well, that's not a bad thing.

Ah well. Another reason to feel old. They come fast and frequent these days.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 AM on October 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


And how is this relevant? How has it changed a thing?
posted by Doohickie at 6:31 AM on October 18, 2009


As manifestos go, it wasn't my favorite. It's always interesting to see how predictions turned out, though.
posted by box at 7:19 AM on October 18, 2009


Frankly, I never got past the title.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:50 AM on October 18, 2009


I hear you, Stav, and I had good internet dealings with Chris back in the day (he linked my old blog on some gonzo blog he was doing), but even then, imo, their shtick sounded dated and out of touch, full of excitement, yeah, but also brimming with self-congratulatory backslappery.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:07 AM on October 18, 2009


Needs more yellow highlighting.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:15 AM on October 18, 2009


/salutes the honoured dead of the various web revolutions.
posted by Artw at 8:40 AM on October 18, 2009


You know who else put up a highly influential site 10 years ago?
posted by effbot at 8:57 AM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Here's a much better train to get on.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:08 AM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's another, and another, and another.
posted by box at 9:22 AM on October 18, 2009


i prefer this version :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 10:01 AM on October 18, 2009


Don't forget this one.
posted by blucevalo at 10:02 AM on October 18, 2009


I'll take the lame train.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:06 AM on October 18, 2009


Seldom has the word 'derail' been more apt.
posted by box at 10:10 AM on October 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


I feel so very old. Cluetrain couldn't have been that long ago!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2009


I feel so very old. This train couldn't have been 36 years ago?!
posted by Meatbomb at 11:12 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


My feeling about Cluetrain at the time was that it seemed like a collection of buzzwords, rather than an ideology. It also seemed like the founders were much more interested in promoting themselves than saying anything really useful or insightful. Doesn't look any different 10 years later.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


This train ios beautiful, but it bums me out a little. Dolphy would be dead within the year.
posted by box at 11:32 AM on October 18, 2009


This is the train I always want to ride.
posted by hippybear at 11:54 AM on October 18, 2009


Oh, Alvy. Your tiny text made me overlook that you'd beaten me to it!
posted by hippybear at 12:00 PM on October 18, 2009


This was more important. And about as effective.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 12:29 PM on October 18, 2009


Just think how different the world would have been without it.

Yeah.

I wouldn't have mentioned it, out of general politeness, but I'd like to counter the praise above by saying that Chris Locke always acted like a total flaming asshole every time I had any contact with him. Doc Searls, however, while a little woo-woo, was always a gentleman.
posted by rusty at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I’ve tried to read the manifesto several times over the years, and I’ve consistently given up after a short ways in.
posted by stilist at 2:01 PM on October 18, 2009


People can sneer and snivle and make light of Cluetrain as much as they like, but it is hard to remember now how revolutionary it was back in the day. A lot of the stuff that sounds stupid and vapid only sounds that way because you take the stuff it talks about for granted now. It was not always so.

Webcopy back then, for example, was very austere and formal. (This is, by the way, one of the reason blogs took off - real voices were genuinely fresh, and rare.) The Cluetrain is the biggest reason why, when you read a company website these days, you are you and they are we. Before the Cluetrain caused a massive shift in the way companies communicate online, they were always Monolithic Biggest Sounding Corp, Inc in the 3rd person.

An extremely compelling argument could be made that your ability to speak to companies these days sprung from the background of the Cluetrain. This manifesto caused a huge shift in online communications, all on it's own, and is still worthwhile reading.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:54 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking about this yesterday. Back in the day, I thought Cluetrain Manifesto was AWESOME AND ALL THE FUTURE YES, and that Silicon Snake Oil was the work of a bitter, angry crank.

I'm pretty sure the last 10 years have proved me wrong on both points.
posted by ErikaB at 5:11 PM on October 18, 2009


P.S. I just read the original "95 Theses" from the Cluetrain website and LOLd.

Here is the key to extracting hilarity from such a self-important, ponderous artifact of the late 90s: Each time the manifesto mentions "conversation," "community," or "connection," think of YouTube comments.

e.g.

Cluetrain Manifesto: 39. The community of discourse is the market.

Randomly selected YouTube comment: no affense your show is ok i mean it ok from me but i dont like it that much

Cluetrain Manifesto: 62. Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall.

Randomly selected YouTube comment: how do u know she wears socks! if i was a boy i would be in her underwear drawer
posted by ErikaB at 5:26 PM on October 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Cluetrain is the biggest reason why, when you read a company website these days, you are you and they are we. Before the Cluetrain caused a massive shift in the way companies communicate online, they were always Monolithic Biggest Sounding Corp, Inc in the 3rd person.

Is that a) such a big shift (the dude at the greek place may call me "my friend", but we both know we're not really friends; to me, it's the same for JBL or Apple) and b) really caused by the manifesto, and not some larger trend in copywriting?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:23 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ten years on, I am even more embarrassed to have signed this thing than I was at the time.
posted by moss at 9:20 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


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