Cluetrain Plus 10: The Metaphysical Construct

When I heard about the Cluetrain Plus 10 project, I knew I needed to participate.  The project celebrates the Cluetrain Manifesto and its decade of influence. I like manifestos. I really like predictive ones that turn out to be mostly right. So, to celebrate, I am blogging on thesis 13:

What’s happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called “The Company” is the only thing standing between the two.

And so it is true today.

We see markets being shaped by things happening online (perhaps mis)named “social” software and “social” networking. Searching for “twitter” and “advertising” will get you nearly 65 million hits. LinkedIn helps people find jobs. There’s a Facebook group for faculty interested in the ethics of using Facebook for academic purposes. Increasingly, these 3rd party, fun sites are being used for markets.

These things are social, to be sure, but that’s such a limited way of looking at things. “Social” software is really about communication. “Social” networking is really just networking. And we’re doing it online all the time. When Time Magazine declares “Why Facebook is for Old Fogies” we know it’s not just a space for the youngsters anymore. These sites are fun, but they’re also functional. One of my favorite professors once pointed out that while adults can help younger people learn to use technology for productivity and work, younger people can teach adults how to use it to connect, have fun, and be human.

And today there’s no shortage of people who would like to find more ways to incorporate these tools into their work. These tools give their business a human face. They help the business communicate with the users and the users to communicate with the business. They make business fun (which makes business more appealing to customers).

But many restrictions stand in the way. There are so many rules and regulations about user information, copyright, and basic behaviors online. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act is way harsher than any rules about analog materials were. The Company is getting in the way.

So, getting back to

What’s happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called “The Company” is the only thing standing between the two.

I can’t help but wonder, how do we keep “The Company” from standing between the two? Sure, we’re seeing the use of some of these “social” sites in markets, but largely in limited ways, and mostly from a few select businesses. How can we shift it towards being the norm? And how do we help institutions understand that it’s okay to have a human/personable face? Won’t we all be a little bit happier (and saner) when the same rules apply both in the markets and in our personal use of software? Wouldn’t it be nice if something that is a good idea is okay to do?

Because, really, I suspect thesis 13 will be just as true in 2019.

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.

2 thoughts on “Cluetrain Plus 10: The Metaphysical Construct

  1. It may seem an odd request, but i would like to translate “metaphysical construct” into Spanish and find that “construcción metafisica” just doesn’t seem to be recognised here.

    Also, if you google the english you get 10’s of millions of hits, but do it in Spanish and you get a few thousand, and the words are clearly being used in a different way.

    Has anyone any suggestion (or explanation)?

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