A Clue-by-Four for The Cluetrain Manifesto

I recently re-read the mostly excellent book The Cluetrain Manifesto. The premise is simple:

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter?and getting smarter faster than most companies.

The Internet has enabled individuals to break out of the "mass produced for the masses" way of living and organizations who wish to succeed need to understand and adapt to this.

The Cluetrain Manifesto starts off with a set of 95 theses in Martin Luther's style, and then goes into several chapters of explanation. It is in chapter 5 that I run into a serious problem. Chapter five is about hyperlinking and how it is replacing traditional hierarchical structures. I'm not terribly fond of hierarchy to begin with. They write:

A couple of other points about business hierarchies:

First, they assume -- along with Ayn Rand and poorly socialized adolescents -- that the fundamental unit of life is the individual. This is despite the evidence of our senses that individuals only emerge from groups -- groups like families and communities. (You know, it really does take a village to raise a child. Just like it takes a corporation to raise an ass kisser.)

This is patent bullshit and 180 degrees from everything else they discuss. There are plenty of things to accuse Ayn Rand of being totally wrong on, but the supremacy of the individual is not one of them. Moreover, the traditional hierarchical organization does not like individualism. The fundamental unit of the heirarchical organization is the workgroup, department, or business unit. Individuals are replaceable according to the traditional heirarch.

I was not raised by some amorphous village. Really. I was brought into this world by two individuals. No two other individuals could ever replace them. There is no other woman like my mom, and no other man like my father. Other individuals influenced my life, Miss Muster who carefully cultivated my interested in science and science fiction, Mrs. Kosinsky who showed me the censored letters from her husband in communist Poland, Mr Stetler whose "science club" was really only about the practical application of ballistics, my track and cross-country coach Aunt Beth, though she was not the "official" coach, or any of the other individuals who shaped my life. All are individuals, the replacement of any of them with someone else would have made for an entirely different me. I was not raised by some group of faceless villagers.

I just do not understand how the authors can go on and on railing against the groupthink of corporatism, talking about how a human being talks versus how a corporation talks, and not realize the importance of the individual. Individualism is the anti-thesis of the mass-produced world, and those voices out on the 'net - they are individuals being uniquely individual.

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Hear, hear. Personally, I'm

Hear, hear.

Personally, I'm a fan of the Gluetrain Manifesto.