Re: cluetrain

Subject: Re: cluetrain
From: doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2006 13:42:03 -0700

On Monday 12 June 2006 08:56, Sean Wheller wrote:
> > That most of us haven't thought much about the Cluetrain
> > Manifesto since the tech bubble burst?
> Not sure I see the connection. Is there something about cluetrain pre-tech
> bubble burst that I missed?
> All I remember of the burst is that the parties were better before it did
> so.

[The intent of the following is to frame the Cluetrain Manifesto in historic
context. Though it will be taken by most as OT pedantic droning, I post it to
the list with the hope that it will be stolen and republished by some famous
author who will eventually have to pay me royalties. I'm wide open to that.]

Once upon a time, in a business model not so far away...

In the waning years of the dotcom boom, the dotcom landscape was increasingly
populated by startups conceived and run by non-technical opportunists whose
unambiguous intention was to make a killing by offering shares to a
dotcom-hungry public. I'm not going to try to explain how they did it, but
these opportunists managed to attract investment, pay themselves astronmical
salaries, hide a lot of the money, and then give everyone the bad news: the
company was broke.

Dotcom employees who worked hard (12x7x52) to become winners in the dotcom
boom were finding that they had essentially been misled into dark alleyways
and mugged--there would be no payoff for the hard work and personal
sacrifices they made. There would be no fully-vested stock options to make
them rich, after all. Somehow, the company officers did not land in penury
but moved on to similar or better jobs! But the investors and employees took
it in the shorts.

The remedy for this plague on the dotcoms was (come on, everybody--you say it
with me) OPENNESS. And of course, the dotcom bust was like a bath of
fire--none but the true believers would try to start up a dotcom in the wake
of the bust.

I think the quest for openness, between customers/investors/regulators and
dotcom CEOs, as well as between dotcom officers and employees, was a reaction
to the scamming, lying, and double-dealing that kept us motivated and working
12x7, kept the SEC approving IPOs of contrived dotcom startups, and kept the
capitalists and investors ready to write checks. Without openness, any dotcom
post-1999 that wanted to have an IPO would be very suspect, and more likely
to attract vulture capital than anything else. But the dotcom model didn't
dry up and die on the vine...

I'm not so sure how open-source fits in--I think the open-source movement
began with BSD (Bill Joy's effort at UC/Berkely to create a Unix-like OS) and
Gnu Linux (Linux Torvald's internet project to create a Unix-like OS kernel
etc). IOW, open-source began with programmers who liked technical challenges
without the business considerations.

But of course, open-source has become the standard source (e.g., Sourceforge)
for all kinds of software/source code not encumbered by the spectrum of
backscatter that comes with precompiled, shrinkwrapped, defect-prone,
restrictively-licensed, exhorbitantly priced, and sometimes spy-infested,
commerical software.

I s'pose there is a nexus between openness in business practices and
open-source software. Perhaps all the talk of "free software" convinced the
speculators and the sharks that dotcom people were crazy, and to look
elsewhere for opportunities.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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RE: cluetrain: From: Combs, Richard
Re: cluetrain: From: Sean Wheller

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