Friday, March 10, 2006

Thinking Dangerous Thoughts

I went back to the comments attached to the Cluetrain Manifesto entry (here) and visited the members of the Cluetrain crew noted in Rick Levine's comment there. They are still causing people to suck in their breath and mutter, for which I am truly grateful. The world needs to be shaken up and made to think sideways! Herewith, some new, Dangerous Thoughts from some of the Cluetrain Crew who are out there, causing more uproars:

Internet's Effect on Politics and Freedom

(David Weinberger, Blog entry Joho theBlog, March 7, 2006; 6:48 AM, on Politics)

...talking about what's changed in the past year (or whatever Chris wants us to talk about).

I'd say that what's changed is that we've decided we're fed up. Fed up with the same-old of politics, as reflected in the polls. Fed up with the voiceless voice of authority that comes from the media, as reflected in the blogosphere.

Put 'em together and I think we're seeing a rejection of the institutional use of alienation as a way of controlling us, always for our own good of course. Now we're discovering one another, which is how we overcome alienation.

(I'd define "alienation," but that would expose the vapidness of what I'm thinking. So, let's just leave it as a nice-sounding term, ok?)

This is Betsy here. I think that's a fascinating take on the manner in which the political power elite has manipulated the public in the past. And a very exciting comment about the possibilities of the Internet as a communication and community empowering device that can overcome the divide and conquer method of ruling used in the past. Wow! No wonder China is leery of the Internet. And although Google has bowed to the Chinese government in order to gain entry to the country, the excellent work by many passionate Web freedom fighters may yet empower democracy-lovers in China. Recall the blog entry here about the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)developing anonymous web browsing aids like Tor and Privoxy. In the comments section James Dino also recommends

The EFF also created a Code of Conduct for Companies operating on Countries with Authoritarian Regimes. Talk about chiding! But its also pretty helpful. Take a look at this recommended best practices document.


On To The Internet's Effect on the Media:

(Weinberger again, quoted in Blog entry by Micah Sifry, reporting on a panel discussion, at the conference Politics Online 2006: The Changing Media Landscape on the Blog, Personal Democracy Forum:

You also don't have to invent classified-ad-speak to fit your message into a tiny space on Craigslist. The other big shift is that newspapers tried to develop a universal, neutral voice that comes from no identifiable human being. We have this dead language of reporting. On the internet, we are desperately hungry for human voices and that is what is behind the flowering of the blogosphere. Newspapers will increasingly sound anachronistic, and this important--I think this will also affect how we want our politicians to sound. [{comment from Sifert}That's a very interesting point! I actually think that the same hunger for authenticity that makes the internet a "strange attractor" is at works in politics, too. Just remember what Groucho Marx said: "Integrity is everything. If you can fake integrity, you've got it made."]

Betsy here again:
Uh-oh! I am not sure I am in such a hurry for the newspapers to die out. I am not quite as hostile to reporters and the organized media, myself, but perhaps I just haven't looked closely behind the curtain. I am currently in a city (Boston) which has 2 major dailies, one of which is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. I will be sorry when (I'm afraid that's the correct word) it folds. We need the different viewpoints and competition.

There is a new competitor in town: Boston Metro. This is designed to be read on the subway, and most large cities with a large university population and any kind of public transit seem to have a version of Metro. I have seen one in Lund, Sweden, in London, England, and am sure they are in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco at least in the United States. This little daily is free, and subsists on advertising. It is snappy, hip and designed for the coveted teen to young-adult market. They mostly don't read newspapers. So, when the Metro started up here in Boston, and a shiver went through the local papers, they assured everybody that they would only increase readership, not eat into anybody else's readers.

Well, of course, that was nonsense. A free newspaper that covers a bit of local news, a bit of national and a bit of international news; some fun, some sports and some entertainment. All written in a bright, witty style with good photos -- designed to read in a morning commute. Who could resist that? The paper that is most hurt by the Metro is the Boston Herald, which had redesigned itself to be the subway paper. Most of its readers bought it at the stands, not by subscription. It is smaller than the Boston Globe, designed to be easy to handle on the subway -- more like a magazine on newsprint. It has tight writing, grabby headlines (pretty much like tabloid sometimes), but excellent local sports coverage. And so, it is losing more of its readers to the free subway paper than the staid Globe, with its subscription readers.

I am not sure I agree with Weinberger that either newspapers have a neutral voice or that they should be replaced with blogs. They make mistakes, and sometimes I really dislike the way they exploit news stories; I can dislike individual reporters or columnists. But that is different from saying the entire medium of newspapers should be done away with. I think they have a level of reliability that I don't yet grant to bloggers. I may trust individual bloggers, and read them. I may engage in conversations with them. But as a librarian, I am in the business of sorting information by reliability, and advising my students on how to do so for themselves. I would not rely on a blog entry without double-checking it. I would rely on a newspaper story, though they have made mistakes in the past, for the most part, they are careful and check their facts before printing. If they fail in that vital function, then they are, indeed worthless.


The Internet and Marketing/Selling

(And Doc Searls at the Linux Blog, reporting from this year’s e-Tech conference on his idea for the Intention Economy, March 8, 2006. "Attention" has become a buzz word after being introduced as a meme by Steve Gillmor in 2004 at Technorati, the Developer’s Wiki at This has to do with Web Marketing)
See Doc’s Linux Blog entry:

... r0ml was talking about how his brother, not a techie, didn't understand what r0ml meant by working with "attention". After r0ml explained, his brother said, "Oh, isn't that what they used to call 'eyeballs'?"

Bull's Eye.

Now, I'm sure eyeballs aren't what Steve Gillmor means by Attention. Or what Seth and r0ml mean, either. In fact, r0ml explained to me that is actually concerned with something much simpler and less creepy than eyeballs; namely, leads. In other words, people who are ready to buy.

Though I'm not much more comfortable being a "lead" than being an "eyeball", at least "lead" regards me as a potential buyer, rather than as yet another "consumer" who might become a buyer if I find a "message" persuasive. The chance of that happening in any individual case is so close to zero that advertising only yields useful numbers in the calculus of mass marketing. Which, even in 2006, at eTech, we still use.

So I'm thinking, Can't we get past that now? Please?

Hence my idea: The Intention Economy.

The Intention Economy grows around buyers, not sellers. It leverages the simple fact that buyers are the first source of money, and that they come ready-made. You don't need advertising to make them.

The Intention Economy is about markets, not marketing. You don't need marketing to make Intention Markets.

The Intention Economy is built around truly open markets, not a collection of silos. In The Intention Economy, customers don't have to fly from silo to silo, like a bees from flower to flower, collecting deal info (and unavoidable hype) like so much pollen. In The Intention Economy, the buyer notifies the market of the intent to buy, and sellers compete for the buyer's purchase. Simple as that.

The Intention Economy is built around more than transactions. Conversations matter. So do relationships. So do reputation, authority and respect. Those virtues, however, are earned by sellers (as well as buyers) and not just "branded" by sellers on the minds of buyers like the symbols of ranchers burned on the hides of cattle.

The Intention Economy is about buyers finding sellers, not sellers finding (or "capturing") buyers.

In The Intention Economy, a car rental customer should be able to say to the car rental market, "I'll be skiing in Park City from March 20-25. I want to rent a 4-wheel drive SUV. I belong to Avis Wizard, Budget FastBreak and Hertz 1 Club. I don't want to pay up front for gas or get any insurance. What can any of you companies do for me?" — and have the sellers compete for the buyer's business.

Betsy here again. All I can say is AMEN. I am tired of being an eyebal.

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