David Weinberger
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Cluetrain a must read so says its author

11 February 2000

For those just joining this conversation, David Weinberger, and some of his friends wrote a book--The Cluetrain Manifesto. KMWorld's Executive Editor Dan Bolita wrote a review of that book. David responds:

Dan, Dan, Dan. I love you like a brother (this is not necessarily a goodthing: ask my brother), but I'm afraid your readers won't be able to tellfrom your review that you actually like our little book. So, purely as aguide to the reader who doesn't have the pleasure of knowing you, let meprovide an exegesis of your review. And by "exegesis" I of course mean "whatyou should have said."

Take your first paragraph. Sure, the book occasionally derails. But youdo agree, don't you, that primarily it barrels on down the rails with a fullhead of steam, going to new territory that's important and exciting? Right,Dan? [Sound of veiled threats]


Cheer up David, I loved CTM. I just didn't want to come right out and sayso. I did worry about those few readers who might choose not to ride thetrain, just 'cause of that one pesky, de-railing incident. I'm not anexegesis (unless you've misspelled Atheist) but in all honesty, I think fullhead of steam to new important, exciting territory is fair.

(If I weren't an exegesis, the CTM might make a pretty good bible. Andcometo think of it, that book is a bit redundant in parts and most of its jokesare lame too).

And while some of the jokes may be lame, you do agree that it'srefreshing to find a business book that's funny at all. I meanintentionally funny. Right, Dan?


... And the lion lay down with the lame...

And surely you agree that the book provides a far more developed view oftheWeb transformation than our web site does, yes? After all, we put the Webinto an historical context, we write extensively about how marketconversations are transforming business, about how intranet-basedconversations are subverting a century of hierarchical command-and-controlstructures. Hell, we even talk about spirituality. And all of this is in thebroadest context of the human need for talk, for hearing one another, forliberating ourselves from the soul-deadening semantics of the businessworld. Not your standard fare for a business book, eh? Written with passionand humor and heart. Right, Dan? [Thin foam forming on snarled lips]


Calm down David .. just put the pen down, and everybody gets out of hereo.k. I agree. The book has more words than the Web site. (maybe not truefolks, but let's humor David right now, he seems a bit testy.)Absolutely the message in CTM is real and profound. People are starving forcommunity. For people. For each other. For Voice. I agree. People arestarving.

How much these noisy-found-their-voice-glad-to-talk-again-masses canchangethe status quo is where my jury still deliberates.(I didn't expect this to be a biblical debate, but you said spiritual, souland Hell in the same paragraph.)

As for your pessimism about the success of the Web revolution, well, puton a happy face. Your fear of mega-mergers such as AOL and Time-Warner isbased on the assumption that real estate on the Web is finite, so ifAOL/TW puts in a mega-mall, it will necessarily kill off the village.Nuh-uh. AOL/TW can build the biggest indoor Web mall in the world and top itoff with two theme parks and 150 Starbucks and it won't take anything awayfrom the rest of the Web. We'll just route around it. If AOL/TW spends allday broadcasting, thinking we're on the Web because we love being preachedto and sold to, we'll just skip www.AOL-TimeWarner-is-clueless.com and findsomeone more interesting to talk with. We can't lose, even if AOL/TW wins byits own standards. We're out of the age of finitude. We have as much room toplay as we want. Right, Dan?

DAN'S REPLY: (with requested happy face)

You're more savvy than many, David. Some of us have not been able to route aroundtheaxe in the head very well before (reference to the book, so readers willhave to read it to grab the subtle nuances of this intellectual debate).Where was I?.. . Oh yeah... Nyuh Huh!

Mega malls might kill the village. Cause... um ... Cause .... (shhh..well... a lot of us village idiots are too foolish or sheepish orsheep-esque to figure out where to find the voices that matter. So, the oneswith the biggest billboards win. (Hint: Superbowl ad does not equate tosuper Web site). But I'm usually alone when I pull off the Interstate andlook for Elmo's bar-b-q instead of McMegaMallMeal.

So, Dan, you do agree that despite its flaws, The Cluetrain Manifesto is"required reading" for the people who read KMWorld.com. As you say, we're onto something. Right, Dan? [The sound of an arm twisting to the breakingpoint.]


OW!!! Oh good God (final biblical reference) David, there's a lot more peoplewhoshould be reading CTM than should read KMWorld.