David Weinberger
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Webby Collaboration

01 April 1999

There's something big going on. You know it. Your friends know it. Your coworkers know it. Your customers know it.

So why doesn't your company know it? Why are your managers so clueless?

That's the topic of a new site I'm going to highly recommend to you:


The fact that I'm one of the four authors of the site certainly hasn't clouded my judgment one iota, just as I remain purely, even cruelly, objective about my children. It just happens that they are the sweetest, kindest, smartest funniest children ever created. Objectively. Really.

Nevertheless, the site is free, unsponsored, non-commercial, unbannered, and, if nothing else, provocative. So what could it hurt to take a look?

The bulk of it consists of a manifesto that lays out 95 gonzo theses. The basic idea is quite simple and, I think, completely obvious once you hear it. In fact, I can Name That Tune in about 3 fat theses:

  1. Markets are getting inter-networked. They have discovered that they can talk amongst themselves. And we (for you and I are the members of these markets) tell one another the truth. For example, go to a Usenet discussion board like comp.sys.laptops and read the back-and-forth about how how many hours you really get out of batteries for the various brands of laptops. You'll get better information that you'll get on any laptop manufacturer's web site. (You'll also get some really lousy information. We're all figuring out how to tell which is which.)
  2. Workers are getting intra-networked. They've discovered they can use intranets to talk amongst themselves. They have learned they can cut through the org chart lines to find the people they actually need to work with. Endless committee meetings, red-tape, and butt kissing are a huge waste of time when you can instead ping the 3 people you know, like and respect to get your task done -- and it no longer matters where they are geographically or within the tortured politics of the organization. Furthermore, they'll talk with you in a human voice, with the type of frankness and humor we've come to expect never to pass the lips of a corporate vice president in his/her official capacity.
  3. Companies themselves increasingly exist only to prevent inter-networked markets and intra-networked workers from talking with one another. They tell one set of lies to the markets ("We're the leading supplier of 10-hour laptop batteries") and another to their employees ("We welcome Microsoft into our market and we'll ride on the groundwork marketing they'll do for our industry") until no one believes anything they say.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the over-stated summary of an already under-subtle set of theses.

What it comes down to is: The Web is enabling markets and employees to discover their voices and to form communities. The fear-based monotone of most corporations -- internal and external -- is sounding increasingly phony and worthless. Figure out how to treat us (markets and employees) as humans or be roadkill.

So visit the Cluetrain site, register your support, your objection, your ideas. Something big is happening. Let's share our clues.