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The Cluetrain Manifesto

I suspect I’m like many people in that I’d heard the phrase “cluetrain manifesto” thrown around without ever really knowing what it meant. While doing some research, I finally investigated what that funny sounding phrase was.

Turns out that it’s about THE INTERWEBZ. Or more specifically that the internet would privilege conversations over business. This is spelt out in 95 different theses that make up the Cluetrain Manifesto, which is luckily fully available on the cluetrain.com website.

This all sound fair benign these days, as you can probably count a number of companies that do this: Kickstarter, Innocent Smoothies, and arguably the one that began it all, Virgin. Still, it’s worth pointing out that this was written over a decade ago in 1999.

The Amazon reviews of the book version highlight what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of the manifesto. It’s only one idea stretched 95 different ways without any real research. It can be seen as capturing “almost all of the lunatic fringe dingbat thinking that characterized the Internet boom”.

But yet … it’s also written with the passion that is only really afforded by manifestos. It’s a business book for people who don’t like business books. And it’s certainly not the only book to pedal one great idea to exhaustion (a fair few Seth Godin books aren’t much better, and I’d even point a similar argument at Don Norman’s ‘Emotional Design’).

If anything, what’s interesting about the manifesto is both how obvious a lot of the points sound today, and yet how they are still often disregarded by businesses.