Took the clue train, goin’ anywhere…

by Yussi Pick

My criticism of “The Cluetrain Manifesto” can be summarizes in one picture:

It’s not that I think everyone and everything should have a Twitter account. But if you have one. And if you link it from your 10 year anniversary page. And if you try to be as visionary as Martin Luther (the German, not the Georgian) by posting 95 thesis on the walls of the Internet. Then I expect from you that your Twitter account has a) more than four Tweets, b) a Tweet that is less than 12 months old c) doesn’t overall show that you have no clue how to use the medium and haven’t even tried.

Yes, Cluetrain was maybe one of the first books to understand and discuss the power of the Internet (for one segment – business – of society). Yes, it foreshadowed what has now become know as web 2.0 or however you might call it. That was 11 years ago. But since then it tries to live off that fame and failed miserably to update itself a year ago. My friend Julie points out:

[…] despite the Cluetrain’s Manifesto’s exaltation of all things online, it does not take full advantage of its online format.  While it is available online in its original version, it lacks updates on the more recent web trends, like social media and social networking. The core ideas behind newer platforms, like facebook and MySpace are addressed, yet the outdated references to Usenet and email lists as primary communication are a bit distracting.

Another point of evidence: The book’s webpage www.cluetrain.com. This page is rockin’ it as it was 1999. Ok, you could argue that they wanted to preserve the original page, since it’s the starting point for the whole idea. They “declared the site a read only landmark.” Fair. But you can’t argue that about the author’s web presences. I especially want to point out Rick Levine’s links (the first link “the”) taken from the official cluetrain homepage LEADING TO A CHOCOLATE BLOG by a certain Seth Ellis. Ironically, this chocolatiers’ page has at least in design arrived in 2005 – you can’t say that about the other three author’s presences.

Can I take someone, who claims to be an expert and writes a book about it seriously, when they don’t abide by their own standards? Markets are conversations, they say. Where is the conversation with their readers? Obviously not on Twitter, they do not have their own Facebook page (breaking another of their rules (No. 40): “Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.”), they don’t even have a 1999-style forum on their webpage.

It happens to me too. I claim to be fairly advanced in Internet (communication) strategies, yet my own blog is a wordpress.com standard theme, my last update before class forced me to was in December and the subpages of my blog haven’t been updated in probably a year. But to notice, you would have to dig a little. On the surface, my blog looks nice, my google results pop up just the way I want them to (the Applestrudel petition on act.ly might be the exception) and my Facebook and Twitter accounts are well-maintained. And I abide by the few rules I have posed on the gates of Wittenberg/made up for myself: I (for the most part – grr act.ly) control the online discourse about google result “Yussi Pick”

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