Ticket to Ride Waiting for Arrival

The Cluetrain Manifesto inspired people like me to understand the bigger force at play in interconnected markets and I’d never looked back to producer driven economic thinking since. But the promise of conversation and the no bullshit authenticity is hitting roadblocks everywhere I look. The mainstream media is filled with spin and it seems that it is fueled by people’s desire to actually buy this crap!

Some voices of reason crop up from time to time, but truth is often hidden behind hype and it requires too much digging by most to make a difference. Recently, George Galloway let the US Senate have it, and it was absolutely brilliant! But it took some Googling to finally get to it. According to Mediaweek, The Feds are requiring the practice of product placements to be fully disclosed as to not mislead the public, but how do people see the manipulation when the story of a music star’s domestic abuse is featured on ExtraTV? Especially when an ad for her next CD follows during the commercial break? I have great respect for Fast Company magazine for its innovative approach to what I thought was unbiased business journalism, but recently I’ve been seeing FC ads from Bodog.com, an online gambling site as if it was a smart, hip activity. That now makes me question the authenticity of the content…

People in power seldom cede it on their own accord. So idealism aside, the world is not fair, or at least it doesn’t seem fair to those on the other side of the power divide. Interestingly though, as most advertisers can see, the power is obviously shifting to the people.

But as best said by Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman: "…with great power comes great responsibility." Today’s empowered customer can easily go the way of the ancient kings of India who thought they were too smart to be fooled by foreigners. Just as that miscalculation led to many centuries of foreign domination, the newly empowered customer needs foresight before buying into what seems to be in their best interest.

Blogs may seem empowering, but check who’s actually writing them. The same goes for customer reviews, and products that just happen to be available at your favorite hangout. True conversations like the ones promised in the Cluetrain can happen, but before that the wiser amongst us need to point the way. Democratization assumes that each of our inputs equal and indeed they are not. There will be a time when the cycle of mediocrity as perpetuated by the "American Idols" of the world becomes unbearable enough for people to give up their rightful voices to the next charismatic leader that leads them down another doomed path.

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