More on Cluetrain. I got halfway through and had to take it back to the library or face yet another fine. Bummer — but I’ve requested it again already, so I hope it gets back to me soon, before I forget too much of what I read.
From David Weinberger’s first essay in the book, “The Longing,” this caught my eye:
We don’t know what the Web is for but we’ve adopted it faster than any technology since fire.
There are many ways to look at what’s drawing us to the Web: access to information, connection to other people, entrance to communities, the ability to broadcast ideas. None of these are wrong perspectives. But they all come back to the promise of voice and thus of authentic self.
This “voice” theme is a big deal so far in the book. How the internets allow individual voices to break through into public infospace that had been dominated by marketing, PR, corporate communications for a long time.
(I’m not so sure about the “authentic self” part of it, as it seems to me that a lot of public participation online is about cultivating a persona of some sort, but ever for the poseurs, the voice used is an individual one, not an organizational one.)
So, OK, the individual voice. There tends not to be an “I” or even “we” in much govt communications. Other than at the political level, the voice of public services is often a kind of non-voice, often passive, often vague and imprecise. This comes out of the standard process for creating our content — written by committee and way overcooked from endless approvals.
But in social media of all kinds, the voice used is almost always personal, individual, immediate. The blogger or commenter behind the post stands by their words – their own words – they own them in a way that corporate communicators aren’t used to doing.
So how to accommodate the individual voice in a corporate communications environment? Slipping into the organizational voice is a hard habit to break.
So I can’t wait to get the book back in my grubby little hands to see how this saga of the individual voice online turns out.