Sociological Web

April 2nd, 2006

I participated in a Web 2.0 panel at iSummit this past Friday, chaired by the always entertaining and incisive Michael O’Connor Clarke, in which I shared the stage with James Walker of Bryght, Salim Ismail ex of PubSub, Albert Lai of BubbleShare (no doubt still digesting his lunch last week with BillG and Michael Arrington), and the always unforgettable whats-his-name.

Ostensibly, I was invited as an expert in Ajax techniques, however I found myself most compelled to join the sociological parts of the discussion.

We were observing how the sociological trend between the late 90s Web 1.0 technology wave and the current Web 2.0 wave is towards increased ability for each net participant to engage in two-way conversations, either one-to-one or one-to-many or many-to-one.

Peter Mosely, the what’s-his-name referenced above, lectures far and wide on the topic of the Cluetrain Manifesto. The first seven theses of the Manifesto are:

  1. Markets are conversations.
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.
  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

I truly believe that business and personal relationships work best when people are BEING, and not SEEMING TO BE. That is to say, the cards are on the table and there is no pretence or ulterior motive. I often recommend Dale Carnegie’s 1936 book How To Win Friends And Influence People as a manual for personal success.

Markets as conversations ring true to me too and remind me of Eric S. Raymond‘s The Cathedral And The Bazaar, wherein the heirarchy of monolithic software development has been subverted by the highly interconnected Open Source model, which would not have been possible without the new levels of communication enabled by the growth of the Internet in the early 90s. A new Cathedral/Bazaar comparison can be made with the established media publishing model being subverted by peer-to-peer interconnectedness.

I’m not sure that we had direct answers to the audience questions about how the new Web approaches will increase their bottom line, but I think any person or company that uses the Internet’s advances in communication to embrace the collected wisdom of these three books can’t help but increase their likelihood of success.

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