WRT 307: A Writer's Cluetrain Manifesto
Fall 2005 | MWF 12:45-1:40 | HL201| Section M080

The internet has spurred a "tell-it-like-it-is" attitude for the purpose of increasing integrity and honesty in the conversations that take place in the workplace and beyond. (2)

There is a desire to decide what is right and wrong to seek control, but the web is creating a new line in business that is not clearly distinguished. (2)

There is no such thing as confidential information on the web, if its out there, someone will find it. (3)

Hyperlinks tell a lot about a company, making way for interaction and opening the lines of communication. (3)

The documents produced in a workplace have changed because they used to be kept secret and individual until completion and presentation, but now, through the use of the internet and public spaces, are being shared amongst people and benefit from the information added to them by all. (2)

With the implication of hyperlinks, people outside of companies can break down the wals of the metaphorical fort to be able to communicate beyond the constraints of marketing "positions." (2)

Internet is becoming the revolutionary marketing and PR; eliminating organizations that are dishonest and unwilling to provide what customers expect. (4)

I get 1,000 emails every day; yours had better be catchy.

Entering the network requires only an ergonomic chair, an internet connection, and a willingness to write.

It's no longer easy to tell image from word.

How risky is it to assume usability? Send your resume as an attachment to somebody who doesn't know how to open attachments.

On the web your company is conspicuous by its absence. As are you.

Respond to emails within 24 hours, you laggard.

The blend of voices online forces us to be more scrutinizing readers and more conscientious writers.

The web invites OTR navigation of what was once the tidy paths of the org chart.

In this digital age, <a writer="knowshowtohyperlinkeffectively">Do You?</a>

New standards are set for every company within an industry to remain available and in touch with customers, unlike when technology first started to evolve--these expectations are across all industries. (4)

Stories play a large part in the success of organizations.... With stories, we teach, pass along knowledge... (p. 67) (3)

Every advertisement or stunt b a marketing department is on its way to a public that doesn't want to hear it. (3)

A critical aspect of success w/ large numbers of customers lies on listening to them. It's not enough for employees to talk to customers. This is to say that a conversation w/ no one really listening. Is not a conversation at all. (2)

All vocab is ineffective until the "buzz" or marketing message is sent. (2)

People establish identity and self worth when they can grasp results. Although a professionally written document may produce direct results, it gives us a voice to express our motives and should give us a feeling of accomplishment. (1)

Wired conversations can revolutionize online customer service, making it more efficient and personal, all while saving money. (1)

Our business voice is basically the same as everyone else's. For example, we learn to write memors in a specific format and to follow certain decorum in the conference room. (4)

The internet enables conversation to take place in the office. For instance, email enables us to quickly get ideas from point A to point B. (4)

The frequent use of email has enhanced our thinking process in writing. (3)

Informal online chat is a great way for total strangers to communicate and get to know one another. (3)

The web is an expressionof our voice. It allows us to present ourselves with text and design in a mannter that is entirely outside the realm of professionalism and professional writing. It is fluid, it is flexible, and it is fast. (2)

The web goes against the foundation of what business has been structured on by breaking down empowerment and being with the unfiltered human voice. (2)

The desire to play and the resentment of being managed has made the internet an asylum for uninhibited speech. Email has become the least restrained form of professional writing between employees. (1)

Our voice is our strongest, most direct expression of who we are. (1)

The resilience of the human culture has caused the search beyond what companies offer through advertising campaigns, people want to connect and share their unbias stories. (4)

The internet has let us all be reporters, letting anyone post their opinions and views to a larger media. (4)

Companies exploit our desires to meet their end goal. (3)

That which we don't have, we desire the most. (3).

We are not on the web primarily to shop, we want to explore the new world and play. (2)

The web is non-discriminatory, and on it we are all equal. (2)

To not move in the way of the future makes it harder and harder to work with the ways of the past. (1)

Corp. PR practitioners are always quick to judge a CEO. They speak condescendingly, belittle their knowledge and tech savyness.... (1)

Group 1
Steven, WIll, Matt Trager, Dave, Katie
Discussion lead: Preface, c. 1-3

Group 2
Ted, Colin, Matt Torres, Ahmed, Elana
Discussion lead: c. 2-5

Group 3
Mike, Darius, Ryan York, Carlos, Brandon
Discussion lead: c. 4-7

Group 4
Natasha, Ryan Foscaldo, Jeff, Gina
Discussion lead: Preface, c. 1, 6-7

We will read and discuss The Cluetrain Manifesto over five class sessions. Double-check the course schedule to verify when your group is charged with leading discussion. You should think about discussion-leading as a broadly defined blend between engaging with the assigned reading and provoking us to think critically and imaginatively about the premises advanced in the reading. Discussion can work closely with key passages, speak back to the text (through argument or assent), and push others to complicate their thinking about the claims made by the group of Cluetrain authors.

We'll begin each of the five class sessions with a few minutes in groups to coordinate and share concerns. During that time, you will present two theses related to professional writing. Decide as a group how best to undertake the writing of the theses. You can write them individual or collectively, sharing responsibility for their composition however you see fit. What will the theses do? 1. They will make statements, claims or arguments about professional writing in the digital age; 2. They may riff or pun on any of the 95 theses presented at the outset of The Cluetrain Manifesto; and 3. They must not match with the theses offered during previous class sessions (which will be collected and updated here) or theses submitted by any other group. This is an activity that will test your group's ingenuity and creativity. Ultimately, we will have a set of 40 theses that we will list under the tentative title of "The Professional Writer's Cluetrain Manifesto." If it helps the innerworkings of your group, you may designate a group leader or point person to take the lead on organizing the discussions and the ongoing development of your set of statements.

More explanation...

Quickly, before we run out of weekend, I want to follow up on a few things for tomorrow class, especially as they relate to The Cluetrain For Writers project.

Monday, everyone in the class will have read everything up to page 37 (this includes the preface, the manifesto itself, the brief introduction and Locke's chapter). Groups one and four will lead the discussion of these chapters by pointing out key ideas, calling our attention to significant passages or terms, or raising questions about the manifesto in general, whether Locke gets it right, and so on. Lots of possibilities here, but the idea is that *you* will decide what to make of this, what to take from this.

Tomorrow (Monday) each group will have two theses to contribute to our "Cluetrain for Writers" project. In simple terms, each thesis should state a claim, position, stance or proposition related to writing in a world of communication increasingly defined by emerging digital and networked technologies. A thesis might do any of the following things:

1. Express a polemical, hyperbolic or manifesto-like argument about new factors affecting professional writing.

2. Riff on or parody one of the 95 theses offered by the Cluetrain writers, bending their thesis to your own framework: professional writing.

3. Assert a simple, witty insight involving a change in how we write, how we think about writing activity differently because of the web or because of new technologies.

4. Insist on basic knowledge related to communication in an electronic age.

5. Extend anything from the assigned reading to the realm of professional writing. (This asks the question, for example, "What does Locke's chapter *mean* for the professional writing I will do one day?" )

<examples>Right...you want hard examples. Of course.

Ex. The endlessly complex array of fixed and fluid texts is not going away in the near future. Neglect one type of text or the other at your own risk.

Ex. You no longer have an excuse for *not* knowing basic HTML tags; these tags are as pervasive as punctuation marks.

Ex. Because image and text are increasingly merged and interchanged, a basic writing aptitude in digital environments requires understanding how image and text work, separately and together.

Ex. Whereas mass media once contended for the space of the page, all media (including small player media) are embattled for the interface. What's your command of interface?</examples>

It's fine if your claims/stances/positions are provocative, even controversial. Write them to agitate. They should be creative and careful (and polished). They should reflect the mutual perspectives of your group. Everyone in the group should be prepared to explain each thesis (from your group).

Obviously, part of the challenge for your group is deciding how to do this. How will you share the workload? How will you come up with original or creative theses applicable to writing? Specific to professional writing?

You'll have 10-15 minutes with your group at the beginning of class tomorrow to formalize your day-one contributions to the project. We'll continue to talk about this in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions. I'll also be in my office at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow for office hours.

Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Fall '05 office hours: Mon., 11 a.m.-Noon and by appt.
Phone: (315) 443-1785
AIM: ewidem