95 Thesii of the glue train
Markets are conversations. Conversations are markets. Markets are he as you are we and we are all together.
Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors. Demographic sectors consist
of human beings, not markets. Human beings consist of bazillions of tiny little animalcules, all
whirling around together.
Conversations among human beings sound like bazillions of tiny little
animalcules, all whirling around together. They are conducted in a human voice, even if it
is a snooty, new-age voice talking down at you.
Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous
asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
Not ours, buddy.
The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible
in the era of mass media. How many discussion groups on nude pictures of Pamela Anderson
Lee could you find twenty years ago?
Use the force, Luke.
In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people
are speaking to each other with a whole lot of italics.
- HTML SIZE="2"> tags.
These italicized conversations are enabling us to show our knowledge
Dont run with a sharp stick, or you could poke your eye out.
People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and
support from a rock than from most Linux distributors.
There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own
products. So just let 'em build the damn stuff themselves, and retire on your stock
What's happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct
called "The Borg" is the only thing standing between the two.
Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To
their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman, much
like Al Gore.
In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of businessthe
sound of mission statements and brochureswill seem as contrived and artificial as
the language of Internet manifestos.
Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, have
seen their IPO share price quadruple on the first day of trading.
If you use lots of really big words like "metaphysical," you can stretch four
or five ideas into 95 theses.
Companies that don't realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting
smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation about the resonant possibilities
inherent in online community and pools of sharing, self-organizing potentiality in a way
that empathizes rather than setting up strict hierarchies.
Companies can now communicate with their markets directly through the Internet, as
opposed to before, when they could only communicate indirectly, through face-to-face
Manifesto writers need to realize their readers are often laughing. At them.
Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a
sense of humor.
Getting a sense of humor does not mean big values, a little humility, straight talk, and
a genuine point of view. It means jokes, you dopes.
Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position.
Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.
Bombastic boasts"We are putting out a manifesto that will change human
civilization"do not constitute a position.
Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the teeming refuse of
Keep your restrooms open to the public. Employees must wash hands before leaving.
By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, you could wind up
sounding like us.
Most marketing programs are based on sheer whimsy. Eeh-ha!
Elvis said it best: "I think Im going to vomit."
Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable --
and breaking up is hard to do. Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again.
Networked markets can change suppliers overnight. Networked knowledge workers can
acquire coke over lunch. Getting a few toots in us has taught us to ask the question:
"Loyalty? What's that?"
Smart markets will find suppliers who speak Mandarin. Hey, theres what, like 12
Learning to speak with a human voice is not a parlor trick. It can't be "picked
up" at some tony conference, unlike us.
To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
Unless the company is the concern.
But first, they must belong to a community. A community with big expensive homes, flashy
cars, and a couple of nice golf clubs.
Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures were fermented.
What if you find out that your company has less culture than a cup of yogurt?
Human communities are based on discourseon human speech about human concerns. Dung
beetle communities are based on poop.
The community of discourse is the market. And you cant spell discourse
Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die. I guess we all gotta
Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a giant red herring. Do you
know how tough it is to worship a giant red herring?
As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside
the companyand not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom
lines, but about which secretary has the best rack.
Such conversations are taking place today on corporate intranets. But only when the
conditions are right. Like when the boss isnt around.
Companies typically install intranets top-down to distribute HR policies and other
corporate information that workers are doing their best to ignore. And their best is
pretty darn good.
Elvis said it best: "This jump suit dont fit no more."
A healthy intranet organizes workers in many meanings of the word. Its effect is
more radical than a chili pepper enema.
While this scares companies witless, they also depend heavily on open intranets to find
the troublemakers. And make them pay.
When corporate intranets are not constrained by fear and legalistic rules, the type of
conversation they encourage sounds remarkably like the squealing of pigs at a hog market.
Org charts worked in an older economy where plans could be fully understood. Today, most
workers produce plans that are about as understandable as a
NATO war plan.
Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Just try to find out who you have
to make your vacation request to.
Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, and
are really fun when practiced with leather and manacles.
Paranoia kills conversation. Conversation kills independent thought. Independent thought
kills paranoia. One-two-three!
Always get Boardwalk and Park Place as soon as you can.
Im not feeling very well. Almost invariably, this can be traced to obsolete
expiration dates on the egg salad I had for lunch.
As a snack, these salads are poisonous. As slug repellent, they are excellent.
Elvis said it best: "I need some more uppers."
Smart companies will get out of the way and let us have the run of the place as
high-priced "vision consultants."
If willingness to get out of the way is taken as a measure of IQ, then opossums are
However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online wish they were naked
This is suicidal. We look terrible naked.
Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually in the
bathroom when they call.
Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want just want to have fun.
Oh-ho, they want to have fun.
De-cloaking, getting personal: Are you free Friday night?
We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best
thinking, your genuine knowledge. Thats because we have an IPO for a major rival
coming out next week.
We're also the workers who make your companies go. We want to talk to customers directly
in our own voices, not in platitudes written into a rambling manifesto.
As markets, as workers, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by
remote control. Why do we need faceless annual reports and third-hand market research
studies when we can easily bore each other to death without them?
As markets, as workers, we wonder why you're not listening. You seem to be speaking a
different language. Hey, you, you, Im talking to you.
The inflated self-important jargon you sling aroundthats for us to sling
Maybe you're impressing your investors. Maybe you're impressing Wall Street. You're
certainly not impressing that tall blonde at the VC firm.
If you don't impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. After reading this,
youll want one.
Your tired notions of "the market" make our eyes glaze over. We don't
recognize ourselves in your projectionsperhaps because we wouldnt recognize
ourselves in a police line-up.
We like this new marketplace much better. Unfortunately, you cannot describe the matrix
-- the matrix has to be seen.
You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door, heathens. If you
want to barter with us, bring us a camel!
We are immune to your consultations. Were quite aware what
were going through. Ch-ch-ch-changes.
Never put the tying run in scoring position.
We've got some ideas for you too. Um, like you could, like, um, have really big free
concerts, and stuff.
You're too busy "doing business" to answer our email? Good. Well spam
you till the cows come home.
You want us to pay? We want you to pay.
We want you to drop your trip, come out of your neurotic self-involvement, and get into
Don't worry, you can still make money. Just ask us first.
Have you noticed that, in itself, money is kind of one-dimensional and boring? So why
not give us yours?
Your product broke. Why? Because youre jerks?
We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as we take one reporter from The
We know some people from your company. They're real jerks, just like you.
When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. Its not that were
gay or anything -- if you didn't have such a tight rein on "your people," maybe
they'd be a bit more open to other ways of expressing their sexuality, too.
When we're not busy being your "target market," were out buggering your
wife. So there!
We'd like it if you got what's going on here. That'd be real nice. Because if you do
find out, you could tell us.
I thought my razor was dull until I re-read this page.
We have real power and we know it, clap our hands. We have real power and we know it,
clap our hands. We have real power and we know it, and we really want to show it.
Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than you are, you
Our allegiance is to ourselvesnot you, you jerks.
Dont run with scissors.
We're both inside companies and outside them. We gnaw rock, eat mountains, outlast
trees. What are we?
To traditional corporations, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound
confusing. But once they pay us a whole heap o consulting fees, well learn
em what they mean.
Soylent Green is people!
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