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 17:25:38 -0700

On Monday 12 June 2006 15:31, Combs, Richard wrote:
> Ned Bedinger wrote:
> > [The intent of the following is to frame the Cluetrain
> > Manifesto in historic context. <snip>
> >
> > Once upon a time, in a business model not so far away...
> And what a lovely fairy tale that is. ;-)

> Sure, there were some scammers -- always are. But the
> _overwhelming_majority_ of "dot-bomb" companies crashed not because of
> thieves, but because of eager, idealistic geeks who didn't realize that
> their clever technology wasn't backed by a sound business plan and had
> no realistic path to profitability.

Brrr. Man, that's cold!

> These "new entrepreneurs" typically had idealistic business management
> ideas (they idolized Ben & Jerry), but insufficient skills to implement
> them. Their companies generally had a flat corporate hierarchy, and they
> generally did the 12x7x52 thing alongside everyone else. They weren't
> sharks taking advantage of the gullible, they were mostly
> _True_Believers_.

Aye caramba! This is an entire class of startups that my theory fails to
account for. I wonder if these "new entrepreneurs" got a crack at the big
bucks--were they generally represented among all the dotcom corps that passed
SEC scrutiny and had initial public offerings of stock for sale?

> [IMO, the investors bear much of the blame. Too many bankers and venture
> capitalists, unable to understand the technology, got caught up in the
> enthusiasm of the True Believers and trusted in "visions" that they
> should have looked at with much more green-eyeshade skepticism.]

Green eyeshade, alright! Sell it on the web, make a killing. :-)

> The people who wrote Cluetrain and enthusiastically signed onto it in
> '98-99 were the _very_same_people_ whose "new way of doing business"
> companies -- brimming with technology and enthusiasm, but bereft of
> revenues and profits -- crashed and burned two years later.

Makes me wonder if more apt business knowledge could have made any difference.
I'm stuck here thinking that a lot of good ideas sank beneath the waves
because of utter naivite, not because of impossible business prospects.

> > 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.
> No, the remedy was hard-headed realists saying, "You're no different
> than a brick-and-mortar business. Show me realistic revenue projections.
> Show me how and when you'll achieve profitability." It's the True
> Believers with their "new age" business model who were shown the door.

No different in the need for realism, but what about the internet grocer who
let you shop online and delivered to your door. THAT'S different, no? But
no0000, they tanked too. Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar, bricks and
mortar. OK, I got it.

> As for what open-source software has to do with it, if anything: well,
> Peter Neilson mentioned "disconnected comments that attribute human
> desires to inanimate objects, to software or to 'the market'" -- I stop
> listening as soon as I hear the words "information wants to..."

Yes, the seat-of-pants philosophizing is a big red flag to me, too. One wants
a very orderly, systematic approach to the question and the solution before
deeming it safe to stick one's neck out so far. As the wise one noted, "The
nail that sticks out gets hammered down."

> BTW, don't get me wrong -- I thought Cluetrain made some very worthwhile
> points. Somewhere between Peter Neilson's half dozen and Stuart
> Burnfield's 15, I'd say. :-)

Perhaps Cluetrain is a worthy brainstorm, unfiltered, unrefined, and frozen in
time. They need a brainstorm disclaimer then, to avoid being taken for an

> "It's my opinion and it's very true."
> Richard

Three blind men were feeling an elephant...

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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RE: cluetrain: From: Combs, Richard

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