Friday, January 4, 2013

Thesis 2 of 95: Talk To Me

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto

(first post)

"You've been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life."

Sometimes, I feel like this line from this Pavement song called "Shady Lane". Like the representation of "me" in the public eye is not "me", and whatever it is that seems to have replaced the real "me" in the public eye has more power to define me then I have on my own.

And I'm sure, what with all the privileges society has granted me, that some have it way worse.

It's easy, and frankly a bit boring to speak of how you "only see people as individuals". Besides, seeing everyone as "individuals" is usually the act of removing your prejudices from groups of people to all of mankind, asserting things about their "nature" which are just as destructive as asserting the same things about groups.

Removing prejudices against groups from your system of thinking is a process of talking and interacting with those people in a way that lets them show their true self, not simply dismissing any thoughts of groups existing on the basis of an idea about what the essence of every individual is.

That is, if the representation of "me" in the public eye is not the real me, you can correctly assume that it has to do with what group of people I belong to, but if you turn your view of me into a destructive universal view of "human nature", and avoid finding out how I really am, you've misrepresented me again, and you haven't understood me.

You have to inquire if you want to understand.

This is why seeing conversations as markets, a new form of value exchange in the era of the internet, is interesting. As I argued in the first post, markets should not be thought of the act of swapping material wealth, but any of form of significant exchange of values between human beings. Conversations, I argued, thanks to the internet, is emerging as a significant new form of value-exchange between people.

I would like to clarify why, if anybody is confused. Conversations haven't been markets now for a while. Commodity exchange and abstract human labor has. Sure, people might have individually had conversations were there has been a sense of value-exchange, but it cannot have been said to be a "market", since it didn't occur on a large scale as an important form of social activity. With the Internet, that has changed. Conversation and sharing of opinions is beginning to become a significant part of the common persons life, in a way that it can't be said to have been before. Anyway.

Lets introduce the thesis this post is about: "Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors". If conversation is a new market, a form of social exchange which is emerging out of technological developments, what might be the "marketing" of this particular "market"?

Marketing, in the world of capitalism, is built on assumptions. Assumptions about groups, and about people in general. Marketing in capitalism is forced to make assumptions to succeed. It is not efficient to know exactly what everyone wants individually, so it prefers to keep things general. Those people seem to want this. These people seem to want that. It's simple,easy and for the purposes of capitalism, it works great. The purposes of capitalism, however, might not be the purposes of creating a better world.

The marketing of conversation, on the other hand, is built on something different. Talking to each-other as a form of value exchange requires some will to understand. Unless there is a will to understand by both parts or parties of the exchange, nobody is going to return to the conversation. That is, if I enter I attempt to start a conversation, and I talk to the person as if I'm talking to "an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to their life", I am not going to get a good response. Probably, what is going to happen is that they will stop talking to me after a while, and I can't exchange values with that person any longer.

There is, of course, nothing that says that this new market is, or will be, magical and perfect. Sometimes, I bet, it will even suck, bad. But it does present us with a radically new way of "marketing", one that needs to take actual human beings, not demographics, into account.

See you soon, thesis 3.

All posts that are or will be part of this project can be found here.

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