This post is part of a 95 post series discussing the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto as they relate to business in 2009. Read more about the series in the introduction post. And check out the rest of the series!
Thesis #6: The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
This is the first of many eerily predictive theses of the 1999 version of The Cluetrain Manifesto. In 1999, personal publishing wasn’t as we know it today. Sure, you could put your message online fairly easily, but that’s about as far as had hit “mainstream”. In 2009, we take comments and reviews for granted. Every single node of data on the web seems to have a comment field or a 5-star rating on it.
Feedback, as we know it, has become a ‘roided out monster that Doc, Rick, Chris, and David could have never imagined.
What’s important to realize, though, it that the dialog never changed, it just also moved online. The tools just keep getting better. Feedback became easier. Data begot metadata.
The internet of 1999 (which I barely remember, admittedly) was still very read-only, which is one of the many distinctive differences between that swell in industry growth and the one we’re immersed in now. When the internet was only really able to offer publishing capabilities, the real values it provided beyond mass media were a) low barrier to entry and b) reach. Ultimately, a read-only workflow designed to collect and then flip eyeballs into a commercial product turned into an awful business model.
These days, the mainstream web is extraordinarily different. Hyperlinked pages aren’t the only tools at the disposal of businesses and their customers. Customer feedback, product reviews, fan-communities, low-cost video production and knowledge sharing are just a few of the tools that have completely changed the way that people talk about themselves, their activities, their likes, their dislikes, their surroundings, and their observations.
Companies have begun tapping into these resources, but it’s only the beginning. Companies are using old models with the new tools, and still attempting to be an imposing force.
On the Internet in 2009, the companies that are succeeding are checking their their egos at the door, and noisy customers are figuring out how to provide valuable feedback instead of just bitching into the void.
Now and again, companies and customers are meeting in middle ground, and magic is happening.
Whatever you do, don't build your coworking community alone.
Join the 3000+ community builders who get my newest posts, lessons, stories, and tips like "How to fund your coworking space" and "Why I hate the title Community Manager"