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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Examples of How to Build Trust Consciously, 26 May 2004
This review is from: The Cluetrain Manifesto: The end of business as usual (Hardcover)
I had trouble rating this book. While I agree with a large percentage of what the book has to say, I also felt that the authors did not address the full extent of the issues they are raising. In addition, the book is organized like a cross between a Web site bulletin board and a series of monologues with Internet examples. As a result, the book has little internal structure, is much more repetitive than necessary, and creates a lot of energy without successfully channeling that energy.
Here's my rating scheme. 5 stars for useful thoughts. 3 stars for being incomplete in discussion. 1 star for writing style and organization.
Nevertheless, I do recommend you read the book. It strikes hard and relatively effectively at the kind of unemotional, dissociated, everyone-look- out-for-number-one thinking that amoral executives can be guilty of. Unfortunately, the book also slams the methods along with the lack of trustworthy purposes. For example, anything aimed at the subconscious mind gets condemned in this book. Unfortunately, one can communicate better by addressing both the conscious and the subconscious mind at the same time (that is what branding is all about). The Cluetrain authors seem to think that all subconscious communications cannot be trusted. I agree that they have to be watched carefully, or influence can be smuggled into our lives that doesn't belong there.
The best part of the book is its many ways of communicating how trust can be developed. The Internet isn't really going to develop properly until levels of trust among individuals and companies can be expanded, based on proper skepticism about the possible hidden agendas. Extended conversation is certainly a great help in this regard. Reputation is another way. Certification by some external process is yet another way. I felt that the authors lacked openness to other ways that trust can be built. For example, I suspect that when most of us are using video on the Internet, our ability to see the other person will give us many more clues about how much we can trust what is going on.
The authors make a great case for less constrained communication. Obviously, with more sources and information, understanding will develop faster. Also, we will be more interested in communicating with people than with very polished messages. The work on complexity science and chaos theory could have been successfully invoked here but were not.
The biggest missing element of this book is what we as individuals (both as consumers and employees) should be doing differently to create this environment of increased trust through communication. That would have made more sense than aiming the writing and the original manifesto at those who are communications challenged.
If you like the ideas in this book, I recommend that you consider other books that will give you guidance on how to implement the concepts behind the manifesto. The Soul at Work is very good on the subject of trust building. Simplicity is a fine source of ideas for how to get rid of obstacles between people.
In the meantime, do read and enjoy this book in the spirit of the untamed Internet.
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Donald Mitchell
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