Sunday, March 27, 2005

Are you riding the train?

“…buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye.”--- Cypher,
The Matrix

This is not business as usual. We are no longer living in the information age we once were. Televisions are no longer the last bastion of mass media. We now have a new glowing box that captures our attention, makes us take time out of our day to interact with it, and makes us slaves to its power. Yes, my friends, there is a new generation of couch potatoes out there, even if there aren’t any couches to be found. Welcome to the Real World…..the world of the internet.

Like Dorothy, Alice, Neo, and all those others who have traveled down the preverbal rabbit hole, we are now slipping down the rabbit hole of new business. As presented in the modern day version of Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis the cluetrain manifesto, we learn the ways that business is no longer the atypical system of business much of society has grown up with.

Maybe it’s a form of digression rather than progression or a strange amalgamation of both. In ancient times, back in the days of the Greek and Roman marketplaces, we were a highly interactive society. Locke, the author of the cluetrain manifesto, makes it a point to describe the nature of the ancient day marketplace. The marketplace was the hub of ancient society. It was the place people went to not only exchange goods and services but to exchange gossip as well. Take, for example, Socrates who presented his questions to Athens while in the marketplace. For him, it was the place to rouse the sleeping beast that was Athens, to be the preverbal “gadfly” on the horse. It was a place of teaching and of learning and of, basically, annoying the rest of the city.

From there, according to the cluetrain manifesto, the human race started to become passive. The gadfly failed to wake us up as we fell into a deeper slumber in front of the television. Like so many people in their own private, isolated cubicles we started to stare at the televisions, passively absorbing the information it presented. The business world- the corporate world- was telling us what to buy and how to think and we were powerless to do anything about it. Instead, we stared at the television and took in what was shown on the flickering screen.

That’s all changing now, Locke purposes in his work. Though we’re all isolated in our own homes or offices, we can now interact with the greatest number of people possible. This is all done via the false miracle of the internet. Instead of being told what to think and how to buy, we can start exploring for ourselves. Everything is “fair game,” so to speak, since we can search for it ourselves and create our own opinions. Not only can we create our own opinions but we can share them as well in chat rooms, IMs (be it AOL IM, Yahoo IM, or any other number of Instant Messaging services), and on message boards. The world, though we’re all in our own homes, extends far beyond the walls of the room we are sitting in and the keyboard and screen we are working in front of. We’re now part of the global marketplace, the collective consciousness of the internet.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”- Socrates

I’m not the only one out there examining this aspect of life, exploring the change in the command and control model. Like a modern day philosopher, Jill muses on the nature of the cluetrain manifesto. The almost relaxed tone she uses in her post makes it more inviting to others. It is both an easy and enjoyable read. For a scathing review of the cluetrain manifest, take a look at Joy’s blog. She presents an interesting, counterview, of Locke’s book.

"I want you to get up out of you're seats! Go to the window! Open it up, Stick your head out and say.....Let's Go Mets!"---Getting Ready for Opening Day?


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