Reading the Cluetrain

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Interesting but obvious…

Networks greatly facilitate the sharing of relevant knowledge within a community joined by like interests. As a result, the lowest common denominator of informed awareness tends to be much higher online than it ever was in the context of broadcast media.

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I find the whole internet community thing fascinating. When people who don’t have any contact with this community ask me about the sort of characters who inhabit the space, (now please don’t take offence) but I generally say, well, ‘they are sort of cyber hippies’. Now it turns out that a cyber hippy is a spaced out trance junkie who travels around the globe bustin’ moves in tie dye shirt s and glitter so obviously I am using completely the wrong terms, but what I mean by this is the internet community has the ethics of hippies, caring, sharing, justice and all that stuff while being deeply ingrained and passionate about the world of technology. To me, at first glance this seemed like a complete contradiction. I mean, I have always loved Sci-Fi and for this reason I love technology and the concept of progress but it still scares the crap out of me. I have considered on occasion that one day all there will be is numbered units housing brains in jars with just a thumb left to communicate, (that’s if we have not tapped into our telepathic ability by then of course). We will be well and truly plugged into the Matrix and our eXistenz on and offline will be of equal importance, as it already is to some of my friends who are so heavily engrossed in Second Life that they refer to this life as ‘First Life’.


Anyway, I digress. My point is that I didn’t think love of technology or a tool like the internet then would be particularly social, definitely didn’t think caring and sharing. Just thought of it as something I could find stuff on and email through. I didn’t think of it as a place of conversation, a place of freedom. Thinking on it though, maybe for a normalish punter I am not so far behind. The way I saw the internet before I came here was very 1.0. Passive, information was pushed to me; I didn’t want to or know I guess that I could interact with it. And to be fair most people in the outside world are still likely to think of it that way. Yes lots of people are on Facebook or Myspace but they tend to be either young or in professional jobs where word of mouth will ensure that they are aware of this phenomenon and the constant interaction mean that they will ask questions and as CT says learn better and faster. I think the penny might of dropped a bit, hang on, so if say, the world carries on as it is, more people spend more and more time online, they will become more intelligent and more aware of what companies are trying to flog to them than they ever were and now they can fight back. Ah, right, gotcha.


I got worried there for a moment. What! In the future I won’t be able to just sit down and let the intricate world of HollyOaks and tacky Christmas ads over take me?!? No, wait a minute, it’s alright I have just remembered something an engineer I know from the BBC’s R&I department said to me. I can’t remember what the context was but it was something like, ‘well Sarah, when TV arrived they thought that people would stop listening to radio but that’s still going strong.’ This gives me hope that a) my descendants won’t necessarily end up as a brain in a jar and b) that the old and the new worlds of communication can live side by side, they just need to learn how. Finally, I don’t know if you would have noticed but there are proper bonefide links in my blog now. I didn’t have a Scooby how to do it before. I just pasted the full link in amateur style but thanks to Nick one of my blog mentors this is now cool and the gang. It’s only a small thing but I am very excited.

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quick comment on ‘Scientific Management’

At my old work we used to have press parties a couple of times a year. To be honest there was not much official business done but they were definitely relationship builders. It was just the journalists and us getting larruped probably to a slightly dubious theme. There were no clients so everyone was pretty relaxed and frankly I am glad that Facebook and Flickr didn’t exist in my younger days otherwise Minesy tripping the light fantastic would be plastered all over the internet.  

The face to face contact and the talking was what counted though and I now have journalist ‘friends’ who will put up with me phoning with some god awful question just because, well they like me.  This week we had a press party; it was much more reserved as our spokespeople came along. It wasn’t to announce anything, just a relationship builder but it was good for that very reason. I did have one odd and very musical moment but I can only talk about that offline to protect the innocent 😉

Now, back to The Cluetrain. My old sociology teacher Mr Omara once told us a story about when he worked on a production line. He had two roles dependent on the day. Sometimes he would just be someone who put stuff onto the line and sometimes he would be a person who would fix the conveyor belt if it broke. He said that when he was just putting stuff on the belt it was so mindless that sometimes he jammed it on purpose just so he could have a bit of a rest despite the fact that he knew what a pain it was to fix the damn thing.  The long and the short of it is that with no power he didn’t care about his job and became destructive. Hmm nuff said.

December 7, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Part 4 – at last Chapter 1!!!

I know, I know, I really should be much further along than this. I have no excuse other than I have the attention span of a gnat and when the emails come through asking me to do something I hop to it. Of course I do I’m a PR, that’s what we do.  Anyhoo – just quickly.  I really like Christopher Locke’s reality check. He’s right, life is too short, we do die, we don’t know when and I think I wasted a whole lot of time on some things that really aren’t important in the great scheme of things. I have thought about it a lot, particularly when I was flogging a particularly unpopular device for a particularly large organisation. I did this for a long time and constantly felt like I was running through sand. It hurt, it hurt a lot and I didn’t believe what I was saying.   On the other hand though if I didn’t I would be skint and living in a cardboard box somewhere in South London, or even back at the folks house and that is not an option. Swings and round abouts…  PS, this would have been longer but I am going to have to do more posts on this later on as the day has gone seriously Pete Tong.

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Part 3 – last bit on The Rules

Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, power tripping and an overall culture of paranoia.  Paranoia kills conversation. That’s its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies. There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. In most cases, neither conversation is going very well. Almost invariably, the cause of failure can be traced to obsolete notions of command and control.  I have experienced this. Not here, in the last place I worked, many times, there was a real culture of it. ‘My way or the high way’ and what sucked was once you have been batted down a couple of hundred times you are too paranoid to speak freely. There was a real bitterness within the work force which grew when people eventually escaped. This of course is to the detriment of the company which is a shame as when the teams felt inspired we did some bloody good work and often proved our bosses wrong.  Where I am now, I can speak more freely and I am listened to more than I have ever been which is bloody amazing after the last place. Don’t get me wrong I know there are a lot of people here who don’t think that way, and maybe it’s because I am still pretty new to the organisation but at the moment I am going to enjoy it as much as I can.  We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.  Really? All of it? You want all the strategies and plans? Oh god, I’ve almost hit PR melt down. Okay why am I freaking out like that? Well, that’s all well and good but strategies and plans change and if a company says it all out loud won’t that mean if we don’t do something they will be slagged off for it? Or is it better for the company if every now and again they come out and say, ‘oh, by the way, that thing we said we’d do, well we can’t now sorry.’ Wouldn’t it then look like it didn’t know what the funk it was doing? Nervous, very nervous, don’t get it please explain.  Mind you, I agree with the other bit, most brochures are pretty pony, good for insomnia though. 😉 You’re too busy “doing business” to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we’ll come back later. Maybe. You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.  Damn right, that’s just good customer service. If anything brings me to melt down its National Rail Enquiries and being ignored, it’s just rude.   

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment