The consistently worth-reading Change This has a new piece titled “What is Open Source Marketing?” [available only as a PDF]. If you’re familiar with the cluetrain manifesto sort of take on the business lessons of the last 10 years of the technology industry, this will be familiar territory.

Basically, it argues somewhat persuasively that new consumer-involved marketing techniques have taken a page from the open source software playbook, replacing the centralized planning and war-driven metaphor of the conventional marketing campaign (“the cathedral”, as Eric Raymond famously described its software analog) with a more uncontrolled, contribution-embracing exchange among customers (ESR’s software “bazaar”).

…a new breed of marketers is emerging with a different vision of the world. Inspired
by websites such as The Cluetrain Manifesto, they understand the mindset of the modern consumer
and the influence of Open Source values. And this has set them on a very different
path from the command and control mindset of the traditional marketeer.

They understand that the powerful new markets created by Open Source values are transparent,
that they operate in real-time, that they are controlled by people not companies, that
they are global, highly reactive, flooded with information and made up of millions of interlinked
niches. And they know that effective modern marketing strategies must reflect this
new environment.

Is this a good thing? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure it matters if I think it is or not. Good or bad, the changes described strike me as accurate — I haven’t watched a commercial in I-don’t-know-how-long. Obviously the rather substantial interests behind various forms of marketing will find a way to adapt to a world in which technology increasingly makes media consumption an end-user choice rather than an obligation, and there could be worse adaptations than an increase in personal participation and customization of the marketing effort. (Or, it could turn out to be insidious and nasty, causing me to want to move to the hills.)

  One Response to “Power to the People? Open Source and Marketing”

  1. More Manifesto Feedback

    The manifesto I wrote for changethis — What is Open Source Marketing? — continues to get some great feedback.

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