So I came up with this noun: clueship. Meaning the ability to give or get clues. It’s one name for two conversational assets: having something new to say, and having a willingness to listen to new things other people are saying.
Although conversation is a purely human activity, what we meant by “markets are conversations” in The Cluetrain Manifesto was broader than that. We wanted to recall markets as what they were to begin with: places where people gathered to do business and make culture. There conversation was anchored in people talking to each other, but was also something larger than that. It was demand and supply speaking to, and hearing, each other.
Now let’s move forward to the present, now almost ten years since Chris Locke, David Weinberger and I began the conversation that became Cluetrain. To start, check out Josh Bernoff’s long and thoughtful post, Corporate social technology strategy, Purists, and Corporatists — why companies CAN participate. As two poles (one purist, one corporatist), Josh points to Shel Israel’s Can Brands be Social? Jeremiah Owyang, who poses The 3 “Impossible” Conversations for Corporations. Shel later chafes at Josh’s characterization. To get ahead of ourselves a bit, Shel says,
|Josh calls me out, pointing to a post I had up in December and seems to think that I am in his “purist camp,” a camp that he characterizes as being anti-corporate, and personified by Doc Searls, co-author of Cluetrain and one of the pioneer thinkers of what has evolved into social media. He implies that we purists somehow oppose corporate objectives, which seems to me to reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of what I have been writing about these last several years.|
I’m mostly in agreement with Shel here, but I would rather not be credited with much that has led to “social media”. Not my topic, basically.
Anyway, Josh and I both spoke at There’s a New Conversation, in New York a few weeks ago. Josh’s talk isn’t up yet. Hope it will be, because it was good, and is chock full of data as well as insights. Mine is — though it’s missing the best part (as I recall, anyway), which is the Q&A at the end. (Another talk there — and an especially good one — is Jake McKee’s “How LEGO caught the Cluetrain” — watch TheConversationGroup for more stuff along these lines.)
I’d like to respond to all this stuff, but I don’t have the time. Meanwhile, I’d like to qualify what I’m a “purist” about. In a word, individuals. Customers. My point of view, and my interest, are primarily anchored there. As I said in that talk, the main reason Cluetrain succeeded was that it stood foursquare on the side of customers, and not of companies. As I said in that talk, Jakob Nielsen observed that the Cluetrain authors had defected from marketing and taken sides with markets against marketing-as-usual.
But now marketers are looking at markets as conversations, and as places where they can relate to customers, on terms, and in ways, that work for both. Seems to me that Josh, Jeremiah and Charlene (all of whom work for Forrester) are helping with that: to build clueship on both sides.
Or am I wrong there?