“So what is the opposite of marketing? Voice. This is about who we are in public; a new second place that we are rushing to, trying to figure out how to live in. —That’s what publishing means: making public, in both senses of the phrase. And with the Internet, we are all doing it, and we are doing it with the sound of our voice. Our voice in this public place is who we are, and we can do things in this space that we can’t in other places. We can be ourselves. That gets right to the heart of being human.
“Look at memos vs. email. Memos are formal, reviewed, voiceless, narrowcast. Email is a voicier medium. (By the way, the Internet is not a medium. It’s a place I enter into, not just something I send bits through. If you don’t get that, you miss what is drawing people in.) Email: really different. Hugely informal, not reviewed, individual, cc: everyone. (Or brief, funny, hastily written, ill conceived, thoughtless, and regrettable.)
“Look at mission statements. Many, including Dell’s, say nothing. But some, e.g. Ben and Jerry’s, say something. In fact, B&J’s has a flavor graveyard on their site. Why is this interesting? Because human fallibility is interesting, but businesses rarely make mistakes. But Ben and Jerry’s lets that humanity through, and it endears us to them.
“Let’s pick on someone. Kenmore. Their site is full of marketing crap. And it has useful information, but it’s buried eight clicks deep. If I want useful information, I go to everybody’s home page, and I find myself here, in this discussion. Why do I trust the information more in these than on the web site? Because it’s badly written (therefore human), positive AND negative, and followed by discussion so I can fact check. It’s human and deals much better with the deep ambiguities of the world than marketing. Look at this thread: there’s a physicist of lint here talking about dryers! Conversations like this on the web are smarter than any company can be.”