For the last week or so, I’ve been deep into reading The Cluetrain Manifesto, and I will admit specifically to being late to the party on this one, as much of it was published back in 1999 on the Web. I’ve found it to be one of the most interesting collections of essays I’ve read in years, and to be truthsome I believe that, if I had read it back in college, I would have approached a few things in utterly different ways.
Does it have anything to say about ministry or about anything specifically Lutheran? By no means. But it does have some very specific and very pointed things to say about doing business—and doing business well—in an Internet-enabled world.
Part of what it has to say must be taken in the proper context. I had been pointed in the direction of this book by a podcast I was listening to this past week (though I had heard about it before). This book was composed between 1999 and 2001. It is, in hindsight, prophetic. I believe that it accurately predicted the results of the dot-com crash of the early 2000’s, and that the authors saw things happening that many, many other people did not.
There are, on the flip side of this, some things they could not have foreseen. The rise of Google as the preeminent provider of search and context-sensitive advertising had not yet happened, and I seriously doubt that the authors saw the meteoric rise of blogging as a publishing paradigm, as neither is really mentioned. Much focus is heaped on corporate intranets, which in many cases don’t exist anymore—IMO due to atrophy more than anything else. They banked on markets being more interconnected and organized than they appear to have become.
But some things in this book are very, very right. And we would do well to listen to them.