Speaking today at South by Southwest Interactive was a panel on the Cluetrain Manifesto. Published in 1999, Cluetrain.com is a list of 95 points regarding companies, consumers, and the relationship between the two, asking companies to wake up and deal with their customers on a human level rather than treat them as potential sources of profit. The panel, moderated by Henry Copeland (founder of BlogAds, was a discussion of Cluetopia and whether society is getting there.
One of the original writers of Cluetrain, Doc Searls, spoke on the origin of the manifesto. In the midst of the Dotcom madness in 1998, the Cluetrain founders, as they would become known, were discussing the disconnect between what the internet actually was versus what was receiving funding and how the net was playing out in the press, as if it could be an extension of the shopping malls in the real world. The founders would use their theories on marketing in order to filter out clients whose philosophies didn’t mesh with their own; if the clients did not agree with the concept of marketing as a conversation, the founders would decline to work with them. The discussion turned into the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto, which was kicked off by Chris Locke’s statement from the everyday citizen’s point of view, “We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings – and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it.”