Apr 17, 2005

Who's got a clue? Who's got next?

A very involved conversation erupted at Hugh’s Place Friday. Ever hungry for the next big thing, folks were asking, “What comes after Cluetrain?

One of the manifesto's authors, Doc Searls, chimed in with this:
I've been asking "what's next" for the last six years. The next thing always comes up, along with the last thing. Like some of you say, it's an evolutionary thing. Circular, sort of. The Invisible Hand writes in cursive. Also in cartoons. You can't see it if your life is the nib.

By the way, the next step after Cluetrain, IMHO, is Markets are Relationships. Of course, Hugh/Thomas/TheRestofUs are already there, no?

I responded—without irony or flippancy—that this reminded me of the mid to late 90’s, when “relationship marketing” was all the rage, and 121 meant “one to one” instead of “one hundred twenty one”.

Like Doc says, the next thing comes along with the last. And the old last thing sometime comes back as the new thing, when the timing, technology and market are right. (The Newton, anyone?)

In his typical style, Hugh responded Sunday with a drawing of a genital hygene aid and the bald statement that what comes after Cluetrain is making money with Cluetrain.

I’m not big into proclamations or line-in-the-sand thinking. Many people think more often and more intelligently about this stuff than me, but with a strong apology for stating the obvious, I will say this about what’s happening now:

}} Markets have always been relationships, often bad ones. But in today’s connected, pancake-flat world, the conditions exist to have real “two-way” connections.

}} People/companies/governments/universities/societies/communities that understand this will prosper in the right way. Those who don’t will resort to increasingly repressive measures to keep the status quo, with all of the usual consequences.

}} As our material choices reach the unlimited, we will reduce them through aggregators, trusted opinions and iron will. These sources of information will become more powerful than the sellers themselves.

}} With so many alternatives meeting so many subjective wants, “the best of all” will lose importance. “Best for me” and “good enough for me” will take its place.

}} Convenience and personalization will overtake choice as the most important aspect of buying something. Quality will matter, too, but not as much as the first two. The importance of price will depend on all of these factors.

}} Advertising as we know it will cease to really sell anything. It won’t disappear completely because it’s become too large a part of our society but will continue as branded entertainment, still trying to make us feel like we don’t measure up to an artificially created status quo. It will no longer be worth what people are paying today.

}} We’ve reached a saturation point with marketing messages. We are unable to absorb anymore. We don’t have the time or the brain cells. So the marketing will have to become un-marketing. It will have to mean something to me and me only. That’s the genius of the Cluetrain/Hughtrain et al.

}} To take Alan Gutierrez’s idea that “software will be like jazz” one step further, intellectual capital will be like jazz. That’s what blogs and Wiki really are: the jam session on a global scale.

}} This new jazz will still follow a basic set of rules (notes, time signatures, etc), but what happens in between will no longer follow established Western conventions. Get ready to see the world from someone else’s perspective.

}} Corporations will start to blog en masse. They will change what “blogging” means to meet their needs. Purists will scream, whine and despair, until they find the next big thing, and then the whole process will start again.

}} As business and commerce become global on an individual scale, the real meaning of “American” will blur. Our government will attempt to fill this void with nationalist slogans and fear. Can’t say I blame them, but the wise will keep their eyes open.

}} The Boston Red Sox will not win another World Series.


EVK4 said...

Again, I didn't read your whole post...just the end of it. Three thoughts: 1) do you think that corporations know enough about each of us for personalized marketing? 2) once they do, the real money is to be made in blocking such personalized marketing. 3) if I post enough in my blog can I keep the Cubs from winning the WS?

Tim Rickards said...

1) Yes. They're developing software to really use that info. It's even spreading to cable. And things like blogs can make it easy to build more personal relationships that produce "personalized" attention without the expensive appartus of databases and all that stuff.
2) True. Although that's a pretty tough lobby to fight.
3) Tough to count out the Cubbies. Every dog has its day.
4) Dude. Read the whole post.

EVK4 said...

Regarding 2) But that's what the people are willing to pay for. Hence the money.

Could you put together an easy to digest summary for me weekly?

Alan Gutierrez said...


Software as Jazz.

When I'm hanging out at an Ann Arbor bar, explaining the concepts of Whuffie and Podcasting, and whatnot, what really gets those eyes open wide, is talking about Techno, a very Michigan concept. I'll describe a musician who enters a studio in Kiev, one in Hannover, and still another in Pune, they sit down, start to perform, and someone in a Detroit suburb (for comic effect, say Belleville) orchestrates a composition. They work because they have two thousand listeners, each contributing fifty cents, because the last performance was such an event.

Talk about the end of recording, and the rise of live performances, and people being to see the power of the Long Tail. Rather than selling a recorded track, you're performing an encore, to an audience of six billion.

Web 2.0 is not about scale, making one monotonous thing grow into a monstrosity. Rather, is a matter of replication, creating something that can be repeated, with a local impression, everywhere in the world.

The future of software is to create an application that offers the user an incentive to replicate that application. To provide it with new hardware resources, install it, and connect it to the network. If you want to hand trillions of transactions, rather than millions, it's a matter of having millions of hosts.

MovableType is the model for Web 2.0.