Work with the Internet? Then you need to read this book.

If you’re in PR, marketing, digital marketing, advertising, or any field that demands you work with the web and social media, then you must read this book.

The Cluetrain Manifesto First Edition cover

TitleThe Cluetrain Manifesto
Authors: Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger

First Date of Publication: 1999 on this site (since then two print editions have been released).

What the heck is it?
In a nutshell: The authors, all of whom were immersed in the goings on of Silicon Valley at the time, sat down and penned a list of 95 theses (yup, history buffs, just like Martin Luther 1517) proposing a way for the world to approach the new, hyper-connected frontier that was the Internet.

Why you need to read it.
There’s a whole bunch of good reasons, at least 95 of them. To highlight just a few of those, let’s take a look at the first 5 theses of the manifesto.

Thesis 1: Markets are conversations. 

  • The first of Cluetrain‘s 95 theses consists of those 3 simple words: markets are conversations. This idea serves as the heart of the manifesto. All 94 of the theses that follow point back to it via one means or another.
  • Further still, no matter what vertical you choose to insert that little 3 word phrase into, it holds true. It applies to any field in which Person A (or Business or Service A) is trying to reach and connect with Person B.

Thesis 2: Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

  • Thesis 2 consist of yet another undeniable truth, and yet, it’s a truth that finds itself over looked all too often. One of the most important factors in establishing long lasting connections and business relationships is to remember that at the end of the day you’re a human trying to reach other humans.

Thesis 3: Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

  • Knowing how to speak to the people you’re trying to reach is a necessary element for success. If you want to be heard, you have to listen.

Thesis 4: Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

  • Building off the point established by Thesis 3, Thesis 4 highlights the importance of tone, and the fact that in reality conversations happen naturally, they are fluid, they are open, and even if they are planned, good conversations never feel contrived. 

Thesis 5: People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

  •  As humans we choose the conversations we wish to join based, largely, on two factors: the subject matter, and the tone of that specific conversation up to that point. Even if the subject matter is right, if we don’t like the sound of the voice that’s leading the discussion, we choose to join a different conversation.

And just think, there are 90 other theses that follow! To boot, each and every one of those theses can be applied to any vertical that has to do with people communication with other people, which (gasp!) is all of them.

While The Cluetrain Manifesto does give particular attention to interactions that take place over the web, at its core it’s a work that attempts to understand the way that we as human beings speak to one another.

For business like marketing, advertising, and PR, everything we do revolves around how well we can communicate our goals and ideas with others.

At the end of the day it come down to whether or not we know how to be a part of the conversation.

Just recently 2 of the 4 original authors released the first addition to the manifesto in 16 years, which can be found

Taking into account all that’s happened over the past 16 years, these “New Clues” are just as valuable as the original 95 theses to those who are willing to take the time to read them, and for those who want to be a part of the conversation.