Several years ago a small group of Web visionaries who saw what the Web was becoming put out a document called the Cluetrain Manifesto (www.cluetrain.com). The opening statement summed up a belief they held that the Web was fast becoming a place where people would form their own communities of interest and leave traditional ideas of markets and human behavior in the dust.
"We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings--and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it," the manifesto begins.
This was at a time when it seemed like everyone was trying to replicate bricks and mortar businesses on the Web. Meanwhile, their potential "customers" were busy figuring out that they didn't need traditional commerce or communication models. The online mall didn't work out, but eBay did, and Google learned that there was a future in empowering people to find what they're looking for rather than trying to sell 'em something they don't want.
Now, newspapers are learning that they're not the only watchdogs on the block and that gatekeeping is a risky enterprise when people can zip to the other side of the globe for a different front page to view.
If you stuck to the local papers this week, you had to look hard and read between the lines to surmise that the resignation of Porter Goss might be tied to an unfolding scandal that involves hookers, a defense contractor, members of Congress, a former top deputy at the CIA, poker games and the Watergate Hotel--information that's been floating around the blogosphere for weeks. A few print sources have been working on the story, and thanks to the 'net and some solid blogging, their work is readily available to anyone with a computer.
Bloggers are building communities, building trust, getting better at vetting information, and moving at a pace that is running rings around their traditional counterparts. The blogs, especially those like our local array of political sites featured this week on page 20, are fast becoming the modern watering holes where political animals and the mildly to highly interested congregate and converse.
The next step for North Carolina progressives is to marshal those communities to express their political voices, elect the candidates we're looking for--and never again have to buy something we don't want.
But there are ways you can still participate in print. We're looking for you to tell us the things you like (or love) about Durham in 100 words or less for a special issue on May 24. See the gray box below for details.
Why's Everyone Always Dumping on Durham?
We're planning a special issue on May 24 that will include a look at Durham's image (the myths and the reality) and a photo essay capturing one of downtown Durham's emerging neighborhoods. And we'd like you to help. If there's something special you love about Durham, tell us about it in 100 words or less and we'll run the best of them. Please include your name, address and phone number.
We must recieve them by May 17. Send them to:
firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: What I Love About Durham)
Or mail them to:
What I Love About Durham
P.O. Box 2690
Durham, N.C. 27715