When the Cluetrain Manifesto first appeared in 1999, the consumer internet was still in its infancy. The vast majority of people still used dial-up phone services to get online, if they got online at all, and GeoCities and Yahoo were the kings of the web — the closest thing to social media was AOL’s Instant Messenger. But the authors of the Manifesto saw what was coming: a world in which users, consumers and people in general would be connected in more ways than anyone imagined.
That world is the one we live in now — a world in which we can get instantaneous news and photos and video from people halfway around the globe, posted through half a dozen different free services, on handheld computers that contain more processing power than NASA had when it landed a man on the moon. But there is a new risk, the Manifesto authors argue, and so they have released an update to the original document.
The first Manifesto was meant as a wake-up call for corporations and governments, a warning that the web and social tools were going to empower people in a host of different ways, and that this power shift would disrupt markets of all kinds — commercial, intellectual, political. And that has definitely come to pass, just as the authors said it would: Old players have been laid low or even destroyed, and new ones have emerged.