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The Cluetrain Manifesto Hardcover – January 6, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How would you classify a book that begins with the salutation, "People of Earth..."? While the captains of industry might dismiss it as mere science fiction, The Cluetrain Manifesto is definitely of this day and age. Aiming squarely at the solar plexus of corporate America, authors Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger show how the Internet is turning business upside down. They proclaim that, thanks to conversations taking place on Web sites and message boards, and in e-mail and chat rooms, employees and customers alike have found voices that undermine the traditional command-and-control hierarchy that organizes most corporate marketing groups. "Markets are conversations," the authors write, and those conversations are "getting smarter faster than most companies." In their view, the lowly customer service rep wields far more power and influence in today's marketplace than the well-oiled front office PR machine.

The Cluetrain Manifesto began as a Web site (www.cluetrain.com) in 1999 when the authors, who have worked variously at IBM, Sun Microsystems, the Linux Journal, and NPR, posted 95 theses that pronounced what they felt was the new reality of the networked marketplace. For example, thesis no. 2: "Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors"; thesis no. 20: "Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them"; thesis no. 62: "Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall"; thesis no. 74: "We are immune to advertising. Just forget it." The book enlarges on these themes through seven essays filled with dozens of stories and observations about how business gets done in America and how the Internet will change it all. While Cluetrain will strike many as loud and over the top, the message itself remains quite relevant and unique. This book is for anyone interested in the Internet and e-commerce, and is especially important for those businesses struggling to navigate the topography of the wired marketplace. All aboard! --Harry C. Edwards

From Publishers Weekly

Experienced technology users with a history of communicating over the Web, Levine (Sun Guide to Webstyle), Locke (who has worked for MCI and IBM and written for such publications as Forbes), Searls (a senior editor at Linux Journal) and Weinberger (a regular commentator on NPR) want nothing less than to change the way the world does business. Commerce, they argue, should not be about transactions, it should be about conversations, no matter what the medium. The artifice that frequently accompanies buying and selling should be replaced by a genuine attempt to satisfy the needs, wants and desires of the people on both sides of the equation. Despite their long digressions, the authors occasionally succeed in making solid, clever points that reveal fundamental flaws in the structure of traditional businesses. Consider this comment about business hierarchies: "First they assume--along with Ayn Rand and poorly socialized adolescents--that the fundamental unit of life is the individual. This despite the evidence of our senses that individuals only emerge from groups." So far so good. But their apparent assumption that everyone in upper management, along with anyone who does not embrace every aspect of their utopian ideal, is a dolt may not be the best way to raise an army in support of their cause. Similarly, ignoring examples of companies that are already doing business differently--the magazines Inc. and Fast Company are filled with examples every month--and glossing over the specifics on how to implement their business model undercuts their credibility. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (January 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738202444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738202440
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,636,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAME on February 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
There is one great thought in this book, i.e. that the Web makes it possible for everyone to participate in the "great conversation", and that it is the summing and slicing of these conversations that will drive business in the 21st Century.
The authors are quite correct, and helpful, when they point out that in the aggregate, the combined preferences, insights, and purchasing power of all Web denizens is vastly more valuable and relevant to business decisions about production, quality, and services than any "push" marketing hype or engineering presumptions about what people might need.
Sadly, the authors' neither provide an integrated understanding of the true terrain over which the great conversation takes place, nor do they provide any substantive suggestions for how web content managers might improve our access to the knowledge and desires that are now buried within the web of babel. Their cute "tell a story" and equally cute advice to have big boxes for customer stories in the forms provided for input, simply do not cut it with me.
This book is a 5 for the one great idea, a 2 for beating the idea to death, a 3 for presentation, and a 4 overall because it was just good enough to keep me reading to the last page.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't much care for business books. But this one blows away the category. Business is, after all, not about dollars. It is about people. Dollars are simply a way to keep score. And what could be more human than conversations? The notion that markets are really conversations is so old it's new. The Cluetrain Manifesto shows how we humans lost our way accepting the command and control structure and format of modern business. We have been engaged in a one-way conversation, with companies doing all the talking, while most folks tuned out the message.
This book demonstrates how the Internet is bringing people back into the commercial process. Technology has frequently been perceived as dehumanizing our world. That's why it is especially ironic that it took a technological revolution in communication to bring back the human side of commerce. We are seeing a sea change where commerce is moving from a seller's market to a buyer's market.
Read this book. Pass it along to your boss. Give it to your employees and your customers. Buy copies for the heads of your engineering, marketing, manufacturing, corporate development, or whatever group. The brave new world is here, but Big Brother's not in charge. We are.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over the last several years, I've come to the conclusion that "business-as-usual" had to come to an end--that the world, culture, technology have changed so much that a new business paradigm is not only required but desperately needed. And it can't be simply a change of rules--the entire *game* has to change.
So finding the on-line Cluetrain Manifesto last year was a real pleasure. Here were these four guys with 95 wild-eyed idealistic theses for overthrowing the business world order--and setting up a new paradigm based upon (of all things) human interaction and conversation. I signed right up.
So you can imagine my delight when I found "The Cluetrain Manifesto" book had been published. I bought it in a millisecond.
Inside, you'll find the reflections of the Cluetrain's originators--in more detail, with more reflection than their Website provides. The Manifesto's background and philosophies are brought into a clearer focus--*not* crystal clear, mind you, but clearer than before. And it's a *very* enjoyable and provocative read.
It's not a flawless work. There's redundancy, for example, in the multiple essays within. Some chapters (Chapter 1 especially) are outstanding, others are so-so. One might even be called elementary. But there's always food for thought.
And don't expect to find some kind of "formula" or "strategy" or "plan" to prosper in the brave new world we live in. It's not there. In fact, such a plan, the authors remind us, would be *counter* to the Manifesto's assertion that honest human conversation is the key to success in the future.
But you will be stirred to find your voice and to add it to the voices of the revived marketplace called the Internet.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently received a letter from a company that sells software for "personalizing" consumers' online shopping experiences that illustrates why the world needs The Cluetrain Manifesto, an extraordinary polemic against the dehumanizing practices of business.
Although I don't have an ecommerce site, the exhibitor's letter began, "By now you have had time to evaluate your Internet sales numbers from last quarter and hopefully you met and beat them." The letter was insulting by violating simple etiquette and unauthentic because it showed total ignorance of my business. The letter began "Dear David." Can't you hear Andy Rooney saying, "Does it ever bother you when people you've never met, and aren't sure you want to know call you by your first name right off the bat?" The letter writer thinks that using first names personalizes a letter. But first names are properly an acknowledgment of personhood. I'm not a person to that letter writer. I'm just a string of 0's and 1's in his database. I'm no more a real person to him than are website visitors analyzed by his company's personalization software. This company doesn't know what personalization is about. Its shtick is depersonalization, a corporate perversity The Cluetrain Manifesto rails against.
Cluetrain is the product of marketing specialists Rick Levine, Chris Locke, Doc Searles and David Weinberger who posted 95 theses on the virtual doors of the Internet, indicting the corporate world for exercising unforgivable arrogance in the marketplace, and suddenly were getting thousands of hits daily. Perseus Books quickly came up with a handsome offer for Cluetrain, the book.
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