WebRef Update: Featured Interview: Jumping on the Cluetrain with David Weinberger | 2
David Weinberger continued
Q: e-commercetimes.com recently reported that personal television technology is likely to radically reduce advertising revenue since consumers will be able to record their favorite shows and skip commercials. What about reaching consumers through banner advertising?
Weinberger: Well, we already have the means to obliterate TV advertising, and we use it incessantly: the channel changer. Click click. It certainly has meant that ads have had to become more entertaining to keep us. (On the other hand, they've brought back Mr. Whipple.)
There's equivalent tech for the Web: intermute.com. It strips the ads off Web pages before you see them. Works very smoothly. But, ads may still have an effect on us even if we think we're immune. At least now we have a type of antidote: we can find out in an instant if Saturn cars are really made by friendly people and if Maytag washers really never need repairing. We can ask one another.
Q: How can we tell if the voice we're listening to on the Web is real or is a corporate shill?
Weinberger: Ack, tough question. But here's a type of answer. There was a site, dunkindonuts.org, put up by a dissatisfied customer as a gripe-and-whine board for other disgruntled dunkers. At one point, a number of people wrote in to say how much they prefer KrispyKreme to Dunkin Donuts. After 7 of those messages were posted, someone else wrote in saying, "Hmmm, these people seem a little too happy about KrispyKremes, a little too enthusiastic, and the language sounds like it comes straight from their marketing copy. I think we're being infiltrated by the KrispyKreme company." So what's the point? First, yes, companies will try to subvert the conversation. Second, there's some hope that they will be discovered. And we can only hope that this is seen as a basic betrayal of trust and a cardinal Web sin.
Q: Overall, what's been the effect of the Web on the way that businesses work?
Weinberger: The Web is re-making business in its own image. The Web is by its nature decentralized, anti-hierarchical, unmanaged, hyperlinked, self-organizing and driven by people who are there to talk in their own voices about what they care about. The Web, in the form of intranets, is enabling workers to route around the org chart. They "hyperlink" themselves together based on their skills and personalities, regardless of what it says on their business cards. These hyperlinked teams frequently have more in common with the customers than with the management structure - they share a passion for the product. All this can be more than a little scary to a management culture brought up on the idea that Control is Good. The business organization is now spinning out of control - and organizing itself in new, unpredictable, and highly responsive ways. We're hearing people speaking in their own voices for the first time in ages in business. Real connections. Lots of jokes. And gigantic opportunities for success for companies that stop hiding under their desks and get out and play.
About the interviewer:
Maura "Chip" Yost's interest in computer began when she received a Commodore 64 for Christmas, which at the time she considered the electronic equivalent of a lump of coal. She worked for over 11 years as an employment specialist and workshop presenter, and holds an advanced degree in training. You can reach Chip at: email@example.com
About David Weinberger:
David Weinberger publishes an influential Web newsletter (JOHO: The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization) and is a technology commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. He writes frequently for Wired, Knowledge Management World, Intranet Design Magazine, and others.
Previous: Beginning of Weinberger interview
Revised: May 9, 2000