I'm weary of people trying to change my mind. It's non-stop barrage of folks attempting to change my mind, or change me. Thank you, but I will change my own mind. So I'm not being merely facetious (although I am in a snarky mood), but that really is the title of the manifesto I would submit to ChangeThis:
Changing My Own My Mind, Thank You or perhaps Changing Our Own Minds, Thank You.
(And no, I don't think marketing is about changing the customer's mind either.)
Too Preachy, eh?
ChangeThis says blogs are preachy. Um, a blog is just a particular communication vehicle. A book is another. A podium is another. A PDF file is another. Blogs are not inherently by design preachy.
Ah, but now people can be preachy and methinks they'd be preachy no matter what tool you hand them.
What's a Manifesto Anyway?
I don't know to be honest. OK, the dictionary says some stuff along the lines of public declaration of intention and then there is extra garbage about princes (oh, and it's often a declaration of war).
These are some manifestos that come to mind and that I was familiar with before I ever heard of ChangeThis: Hannover Principles (abstract only), Google's founders letter in their SEC filing, Fast Company founding editor's manifesto, Agile Alliance manifesto, Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto, Cluetrain Manifesto, Hughtrain Manifesto. I just read Bruce Sterling's SIGGRAPH speech -mamma mia, now that's a man-i-festo (if you like it, read McDonough's stuff too) - the energy is palpable reading that thing - it zings.
Manifestos aren't going to resonate with everyone. Many I've cited above take on the style of empassioned (often inspiring) rallying cries. Yet they are stating their own convictions, their own intentions. They're on board - and we can get on board too, or not.
It's a Book, It's a Blog...No, It's a PDF!
Timothy Lang says in the comments [via Jeff Jarvis] regarding the technology:It's like taking Og's stone out of his hand and giving him a hefty, steel claw hammer, and Og throwing the hammer away shouting "Og like stone!"
So couldn't the intent been accomplished via blogs? Or as HTML pages? All good questions.
This is yet another format - not a blog and not a book - but for those authors that (a) don't necessarily want to write a full-length book (b) the commercial interests aren't there to get it published in trade or business press - i.e. as a bylined article or (c) the idea needs some runway to set the stage and doesn't lend itself to a short pithy blog post or even a series of short pithy blog posts.
Why not a blog? Hmm, I'm still musing on this one. I guess blog posts want to be short - I can't even fathom reading my own long posts on an RSS reader. But this one needs more thought before dismissal.
So, why not an HTML paper? Why PDF? It's impossible to deeply link into a PDF. Not to mention too much work for lazy bloggers like myself - I like to just cut-and-paste sections I'd want to highlight in a blog post. I'd love to link into particular sections of a "hybrid" documentary I saw this past weekend (you'll have to wait, another post) but even audio and video (as long as it's online) seems to have more potential for linkability than PDFs. And unlinkability inevitably curtails online conversations. And that's a biggie.
Did I say I was in a snarky mood? I'm also weary of 'experts' and 'high-profile'. Not to pick on this particular author (he does have a good example of a manifesto in the 'public intention' style) who notes:
They have several high profile names writing manifestos that will be distributed via email and blogs...
God help me when I place any higher value on the opinions of high-profile people.
My RSS reader today has one helluva lot more to read: more intelligent, more informed, more up-to-date, more provocative, more conversational.
Maybe this says it all:
"Famous people have enough space to talk already," [Lawrence] Lessig says. "[Blogging] is interesting because of nonfamous people." - via Halley's Comment
Now to Be Fair
OK, Jeff says he had more provocative posts in his RSS reader than he saw at ChangeThis. Now let's be honest, the blogosphere todays leans a bit more towards the lunatic fringe and alphas (not a derogatory term, just using The Anatomy of Buzz-speak) than the mainstream. Perhaps ChangeThis is not trying to change our minds, but to seep into the mainstream and "cross the chasm".
One of the intentions of ChangeThis is not to preach to the choir. Now, really, do anyone reading my blog does not already feel some affinity for say, customer evangelism?
Yeah, I'm already converted to the church of the customer. So I'm not the intended audience, neither is Jeff. Do I know some folks that I could leave the print-out version of the Customer Evangelism manifesto as a leave-behind hand-out - maybe tucked in with the other hand-outs (hint, hint) - sure. I think maybe these manifestos are supposed to be a chasm-crossers.
You think customer evangelism is everywhere, that it's old hat. Passe? Look around corporate America and large global enterprises - it's still incredibly provocative - all depends where you sit.
And for those not on the early-adopter side of the curve, high-profile matters. Someone I've heard of has done this and I'm (whew) not going to stick my neck out and be the first on the block - that's a selling point. (Yeah, not to me though.)
"[Bees] are the conduits through which information reaches the masses.....[Bees tip products. They're the bridge between alpha trends and mainstream consumer.] They translate the ideas of the innovators into something that larger audiences can understand and adopt. - Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing, by Emanuel Rosen
The Anatomy of Buzz says that marketers spend alot of time wooing the elusive alpha while it is the bees that actually move ideas to the masses.
(It'll be interesting to read manifestos when I'm not already in alignment.)
Those of Us Pushing Edges
I realize I seem to always be picking at something Seth said. Or Hugh writes. But really I only do this with people that are edgy. I forget the rest. They put themselves out there....we're not going to 100% agree with everything they say or do. Fantastic. They're not lost in the invisible middle ground. So that means I do love you guys, really. I love pushing edges. (Quotes lifted from my About page:)
"I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." - Kurt Vonnegut
"Sometimes we have to travel to the edge of ourselves to find our center." - Buck Ghosthorse, Lakota Medicine Man