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July 29, 2004

An agitation of manifestos

Manifestos are all the rage. The UK think-tank, ippr, launched their project to create a Manifesto for a Digital Britain last night. Hugh McLeod has been penning his answer to the Cluetrain Manifesto, aptly titled the Hughtrain. FirstMonday has just published the Manifesto for the Reputation Society. Back in June, WWF and SustainAbility launched a Media Manifesto at a seminar I organised at the BBC. And finally the bloggerati are giving their verdict on the manifesto at the heart of Seth Godin's latest venture: ChangeThis.

What is it about the manifesto that has suddenly made it the idea-vehicle of choice? It could be the fact that the political seasons, like planets, are almost in alignment: in the US Bush vs Kerry is warming up for November, whilst in Britain, the wonks (and digital wonks, particularly) are in party manifesto mode - exploring what ideas will catch the eyes of the party leaderships.

A manifesto is no mere statement but a statement with the force of argument and belief. Nor is it simply a vision; it scorns the vision as wishful thinking for a never-never future, arguing instead for change now. Moreover, the manifesto is an argument with intent and identity: demanding not only that adherents make a public stand on its behalf, but that they drive changes and are held accountable for them. Manifestos are emotional and partial, romantic and practical.

It seems that we've been through the rational bit of the tech-cycle: the idealists are back and whether we agree with them, we're given a buzz by it. Tech companies are getting excited about IPOs and technology is going to save the world. I'd watch out: it looks like we're back in 1999.

July 29, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink


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