Today, we are discussing those four Silicon Valley writers who predicted the future in the Cluetain manifesto. 

Shannon Ryan, our fearless leader, is out in Redmond today attending the Microsoft Canadian leadership summit. He gave a pre-conference talk this morning on Enterprise 2.0: Social networks behind the Firewall. (I've posted his presentation to Slideshare).

Be right, be first - and then hope people remember

Shannon makes some really solid observations in this presentation, we'll be capturing many of them in a whitepaper "Social networking in the enterprise" we're releasing at the end of June. (Email me if you'd like a copy). But one observation really struck me. Those Cluetrain folks got it right. If you don't remember them, 4 Silicon Valley writers published The Cluetrain manifesto:The end of business as usual in 1999. It contains observations that have proven remarkably astute. 

While the business press seems to have given Tim Oreilly of Oreilly press the nod for coining "web 2.0," I'd suggest the Cluetrain writers nailed the concept down years before.

Six of the 95 theses

Here are six of the 95 theses they propounded that sound like an analyst from Forester or Gartner writing today:  

  1. “Markets are conversations.” (Is this what we mean by social media?) 
  2. “Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.” (Hmm. Sounds like online word of mouth or social buzziness) 
  3. “We’re both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they’re really just an annoyance. We know they’re coming down. We’re going to work from both sides to take them down.” (Tweet, Crackberry, Facebook status updates)
  4. “Companies typically install intranets top-down to distribute HR policies and other corporate information that workers mostly ignore.” (Or can't find and fix the bloody intranet search engine)
  5. “The best intranets are built bottom-up by engaged individuals cooperating to construct something far more valuable: an intranet-worked corporate conversation.” (Or, as the pundits would belatedly name it intranet 2.0) 
  6. “While this scares companies, they also depend heavily on intranets to generate and share critical knowledge. They need to resist the urge to “improve” or control these conversations.” (Corporate Wiki's for knowledge retention; Facebook inside the enterprise) 

Locke, Levine, Searls and Weinberger were early in the curve and I admit that I glanced at the book when it came out, classified it as more .com lunacy and set it aside. But Shannon's right when he says that their observation that business is about humans and humans like to interact, share, talk and work with other humans is at the heart of the web 2.0 revolution.

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