You raise a crucial point, Gabriel — our role as producers of social media has important consequences. One of the most important manifestos about this role was The Cluetrain Manifesto. That manifesto is old now, and this week two of its authors have posted an update that is well worth paying attention to. Although this passage is overtly political, not in the sense of political parties, but in the sense of drawing attention to the power struggle underway over control of online culture, those in this course who are interested in social media marketing would do well to read both the original and the recent New Clues:
Hear, O Internet.
It has been sixteen years since our previous communication.
In that time the People of the Internet — you and me and all our friends of friends of friends, unto the last Kevin Bacon — have made the Internet an awesome place, filled with wonders and portents.
From the serious to the lolworthy to the wtf, we have up-ended titans, created heroes, and changed the most basic assumptions about
How Things Work and Who We Are.
But now all the good work we’ve done together faces mortal dangers.
When we first came before you, it was to warn of the threat posed by those who did not understand that they did not understand the Internet.
These are The Fools, the businesses that have merely adopted the trappings of the Internet.
Now two more hordes threaten all that we have built for one another.
The Marauders understand the Internet all too well. They view it as theirs to plunder, extracting our data and money from it, thinking that we are the fools.
But most dangerous of all is the third horde: Us.
A horde is an undifferentiated mass of people. But the glory of the Internet is that it lets us connect as diverse and distinct individuals.
We all like mass entertainment. Heck, TV’s gotten pretty great these days, and the Net lets us watch it when we want. Terrific.
But we need to remember that delivering mass media is the least of the Net’s powers.
The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.
It is therefore not time to lean back and consume the oh-so-tasty junk food created by Fools and Marauders as if our work were done. It is time to breathe in the fire of the Net and transform every institution that would play us for a patsy.
An organ-by-organ body snatch of the Internet is already well underway. Make no mistake: with a stroke of a pen, a covert handshake, or by allowing memes to drown out the cries of the afflicted we can lose the Internet we love.
We come to you from the years of the Web’s beginning. We have grown old together on the Internet. Time is short.
We, the People of the Internet, need to remember the glory of its revelation so that we reclaim it now in the name of what it truly is.
January 8, 2015