Jun 5 2009

My Cluetrain at 10


Eric posted his “Cluetrain at 10” and I wanted to follow suit. Doc posted that in observation of the 10th anniversay of the Cluetrain Manifesto, a new edition is being released.

So this is my “Cluetrain changed my life post” by all means follow suit!

I’ve just now, as I write this realized I have no idea when the Cluetrain entered my life. I searched through my entire amazon.com order history (I highly recommend that to everyone, just for the sake of seeing the things you’ve purchased over the years, eye opening to say the least), i thumbed through my well worn copy looking at every boarding pass and stub in it (books are time capsules so boarding passes etc get stuck into them when I travel with a book).  My copy has been to Italy, Japan, and many, many states in the US, but nothing told me when I bought it (or where since it wasn’t Amazon).

I’m reasonably certain it was either Directfit or Ameriquest mortgage, both long dead companies. At both I was a code monkey with aspirations of something more. I knew from the moment I started writing code that I didn’t want to be 40 or 50 and still writing code, I just didn’t know what else I wanted. Anyhoo!

I read Cluetrain and so much of it clicked.  Everywhere I worked from that point forward I tried my best to bring forth Cluetrain-esque aspects. Sadly I failed more often than not, thanks to corporate structures that weren’t interested in changing the status quo of top down. Such is life.

Fast forward a few years, I’m an indie developer subbing out to companies here and there. For my part, my company was fairly transparent, I shared my time, etc so there was never any doubt what I was doing, my website was pretty straightforward and invited people to contact me vs. read about what i did. I even created a blog before there were easy tools, writing my posts in word, and creating pages and updating the sidebar links.

Jumping forward a bit more, I’m running my own business, organizing conferences whos main focus is conversation. Everything about our (Tom might write his own Cluetrain at 10 post) business was based on our readings of the Cluetrain. During our wednesday (last day) keynote, we opened the doors of the business, showing everyone what we made, what we spent, what we’re taking home (positive and negative). Our events centered on people connecting, like the markets of old. Our expo areas are where lunch is served, our sessions are long enough for the presenter to present, and then for actual discussion to take place. There’s no rushing to get to the next room, etc.

We’ve never wanted to be JavaOne with 10,000 poeple or whatever. We aim for 500 or so, and pick venues that enable everyone to hang out and meet, We encourage talking, we drag people over to introduce them to others, we want the event to be more than just 4 days of sitting. We want them to be 4 days of communicating and meeting people.

At our second event, as a gift to attendees we gave them all (450 people) a copy of Cluetrain, we emailed doc, but never heard back, nor surprising, he’s busy. At 20k a speaking engagement we didn’t have the budget to try to hire him to speak, but had hoped he’d come by just to see his impact on our business.

We still give cluetrains to anyone who’d like one.

I read a lot, no other book has so moved and inspired me. It’s in my laptop bag all the time.