Why Eat Bugs #3: Humane Husbandry

July 14, 2014

Debeaking chickens so they can’t peck each other to death in their cannibalism-inducing close quarters. The “docking” (or dismemberment) of piglet tails to avoid insanely bored pigs from eating those tails off.  The feeding of cows to cows in the form of bovine-rendered protein disguised in their feed like a banal farm-version of the meat-pie scene in “Titus Andronicus.”

Industrial animal husbandry is a horror show.

And yet, however much I am disgusted by this horror show, the disgust is forgotten or compartmentalized or overwhelmed when I’m confronted with a plate of golden-fried chicken, the aroma of BBQ ribs, a medium-rare peppercorn-encrusted rib-eye. I can very much enjoy the delicious ends, however vaguely aware I am of the monstrous means.

Nonetheless, unease persists. I can’t bring myself to watch the industry footage in documentaries like PETA’s “Meet Your Meat.” In part, this avoidance is out of an anticipated annoyance of PETA’s expected shrill and self-righteous rhetoric (even if it’s delivered in the rich baritone of ).

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But it is also out of a refusal to confront the discomforting (and let’s face it, unnecessary) recognition of my own complicity in perpetuating institutionalized cruelty with my meat-heavy food choices.

Because with that recognition, my latent conscience will demand some action. And perhaps what keeps me in this passive denial is a sense that there are no viable alternatives.

Expensive and dubiously-labelled free-range options? Expensive perhaps as ethically-questionable pescatariansim? Bland and complicated veganism?

At my best, I practice moderation to mitigate the feelings of guilt. I go vegetarian once a week. Sometimes. I think. It’s been a few weeks. (Months.)

But what if chickens loved being crowded together? What if pigs naturally teemed in some wild pork pyramid? What if cows naturally and unproblematically feasted on each other?

Crickets, worms, ants, and many other edible insects prefer and thrive in these conditions. The despicable practices of commercial farming are humane when applied to insects. So these long-standing practices that have proven effectiveness in maximizing yields could be applied lovingly to insects without invoking the hypocritical outrage of folks like me.

Even better, many insects consume organic waste. So entomophagy can mitigate both my animal cruelty guilt along with my recycling guilt.

Tiny Farms even gives you the opportunity to practice you’re own ethical husbandry with their open-source farm kit. (I’m thinking about it…)

However, it still remains to be tasted how good of an alternative this is. I have not yet eaten a bug-only meal and am skeptical despite my fondness for the unconventional.

But I’m hoping there is more to bug-eating than just the superficial appeal of the bizarre. There are a lot of good reasons for eating bugs. (I have already considered feed-conversion rates and entomophagy’s carbon footprint. The humaneness of its production may also amplify the enjoyment. A lot goes into pleasure.

And I would be remiss in bringing up ethics without addressing the qualms of killing a living thing that feels pain. Genius David Foster Wallace’s perfect essay “Consider the Lobster” (that appeared in the 2004 issue of Gourmet as the most beautifully mispublished works in American journalism) tangled with the morality of boiling a creature alive for one’s pleasure.

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Maybe this requires its own blog post. For now, I can only admit my own perhaps flawed moral scale. I feel better about the consumption of a cow’s weight in crickets than putting one cow through the institutionalized terror of commercial beef production.

And speaking of lobster… if we can get over and actually charge a premium for the consumption of such a weird-looking gross bottom feeder (that eats whatever is on the ocean floor, like fish carcasses, droppings, filth, etc.), it may not be so much to get into a similarly-carapaced arthropod like the grasshopper that only eats grass in the open light of day. Seems like a pretty good alternative.

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Some things I learned from THE POWER OF HABIT

July 8, 2014

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business by Charles Duhigg was a fun behavioral econ read about how our brains turn one-time decisions into repeated behaviors, and how that can be manipulated or optimized—for ourselves, organizations, and society. 40% of our actions are the result of habits, and not conscious decisions—so it’s wise to think about what we spend a lot of doing and not thinking about.

I have some minor gripes with the book. Duhigg goes off the rails in applying the habit framework. Instead of interpreting clearly identifiable habits, he applies it to behaviors and trends that strain the definition (like the civil rights movement). The book suffers from that condition of a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail. To this guy writing about habits, everything looks like a habit.

Nonetheless, it’s written with an enjoyably brisk journalistic style and I learned a bunch, including…

  • Habits have a 3-part structure: Our brains form habits as a means to conserving effort. I once exerted precious brain-energy to actively seek out some sweet fresh morning bakery. Now I just automatically make a bakery stop on the way back from my Crossfit workout. (The brain is good at habit formation, not so good at mitigating cognitive dissonance.) The habit structure is as follows: 1. the cue (I’ve finished my sweaty morning workout); 2. the routine (I eat a sugary baked treat); 3. the reward (I exalt in the sugar-endorphin haze).

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  • It’s more effective to tweak an existing bad habit than it is to eliminate it: When it comes to the self-help portion of the book, there’s no new age (and grammatically incoherent) talk of being “more present” in our actions. Duhigg accepts habit formation as inevitable. Such brain-energy-saving strategies are how our brains are able to function.  I could try to just stop wolfing down pain au chocolats in my sweaty gym cloths, but that’s unlikely to work. Once a habit is formed, it’s difficult to eliminate altogether. It’s more effective to tweak the unwanted routine part of the “habit loop.” This is how Alcoholics Anonymous can be effective. For many alcoholics, it’s not the drunkenness that’s their reward, but the bar-room social interactions that accompanies it. So AA responds to the loneliness cue that might compel one to a bar by replacing the evening drinking routine with an evening meeting routine, while generating the same social reward. However, this takes an acute awareness of the cues and rewards that drive a habit, which isn’t immediately evident. For my post-workout bakery routine, is my cue the workout? Should I really stop blasting my quads? Is my reward really the sugar-endorphin buzz? Some helpful suggestions are posed on how I might go about figuring this out.
  • The strength of weak ties: This insight came out of the problematic portion of the book regarding the habits of societies, and how the civil rights movement was mobilized from out of a society habit formation pattern. I’m skeptical of how much habit formation plays into this, but I thought his description of the role of social networks in motivating action was insightful. Rosa Parks was not the only African American to be arrested for sitting in the wrong part of the bus in Montgomery in 1955. But she was extremely well connected, as an active member of many organizations. As a result, she had many “weak ties,” many acquaintances from these social groups.  Weak-tie acquaintances can be more important than close friends because weak ties “give us access to social networks where we don’t otherwise belong,” introducing us to new ideas or opportunities or issues we would not be familiar with. In this way, our weak ties can be more influential than our strong-tie relationships. Parks’ many weak ties help to encourage the Montgomery masses to get involved after her incarceration, and not the many racist bus incidents that preceded it. (So if this bug-eating movement is to take off, I need more shallow pals…)

Why Eat Bugs #2: Carbon Footprint

July 6, 2014

cicadas-&-silkworms-on-stic

In my continuing effort to persuade myself to get into eating bugs (or entomophagy…or “Prairie Shrimping”), it’s compelling consider the impact it would have on carbon footprints.

Not to poop in everyone’s 4th-of-July BBQ, but conventional animal protein production requires a huge energy expenditure, for…

  • growing a massive amount of feed,
  • transporting the feed and animals,
  • operating the feed mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, and meat-processing plants,
  • keeping the meat refrigerated

Here are some comparisons to give context to the amount of fuel needed for your meat-orgy of a picnic…

  • It takes as much fuel drive a car 10 miles as it does to produce 1 half-pound beef patty.
  • It takes 1 gallon of fuel to produce 1 pound of grain-fed beef.
  • To provide the yearly average beef consumption of an American family of 4 requires over 260 gallons of fuel.
  • It takes 28 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of meat protein.

[CONFESSION: I’m no carbon-abstaining saint (yet). I did buy 16lbs of shoulder meat this weekend for an epic ancho-flavored slow-roast. The amount of carbon dioxide this caused is equivalent to a drive from Madison, WI to Little Rock, AK… but this trip would in no way be equivalent in epicness to the resulting smoky-spicy tacos.]

The United Nations estimates that livestock-related emissions comprise about 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas output. That is a huge amount for an activity that doesn’t even register for many of us as a big energy consumer. (The top 2 are electricity at 32% and transportation at 28%.)

The world’s population is projected to grow almost 30% in the next 35 years, reaching 9 billion in 2050. If conventional animal protein continues to be relied upon, the already huge food-production emissions will continue to rise.

So about the footprint. A recent University of Oxford study determined how our eating choices impact our carbon footprint. Here’s a comparison of kilogram of carbon dioxide produced per diet-type…

  • Heavy Meat Eaters (“heavy” means 3.5oz a day…the average American eats 4oz): 7.19 kilograms of carbon dioxide
  • Medium Meat Eaters: 5.63
  • Low Meat Eaters: 4.67
  • Fish Eaters: 3.91
  • Vegetarians: 3.81
  • Vegans: 2.89(!)

To go vegan more than halves your carbon footprint. No need for public transportation or recycling to be an environmental good guy. Even just eating less meat can have a significant impact.

Although there are no numbers on the carbon footprint for a bug-only diet, because no one does this (yet… I think…), one can imagine it would be equivalent to the pescatarian/vegetarian numbers or lower. In insect-protein production, you do not have the extensive feed and processing needs of conventional animal protein.

So whenever I do confront my first insect meal, I can be consoled that I’m going from a carbon hoof-print to a teeny-tiny carbon ant-print. But will it taste as awesome as a 4-hour-roasted pulled-pork taco… eh…

References

20 Crossfit Haiku

July 1, 2014

When I first started Crossfit awhile back, I tweeted out a haiku for the first 20 times I went. Here they are…

kbell

Day 1

Did many deadlifts

With men who bloodied themselves

Scraping weight up shins

Day 2

Too many burpees.

One hundred kettle bell swings.

High-fives all around.

Day 3

Sore from yesterday.

Bruised wrists from kettle snatches.

And now more abuse.

Day 4

First time I fall down

Snatching what I could not catch.

More shaken than sore.

Day 5

Run, burpees, deadlifts.

Old, tired, but I finish first.

Coach yells, “3 MORE ROUNDS!”

Day 6

Headstand day is a

bad day to wear loose short shorts.

Blood-filled head don’t care.

Day 7

Now, I expect that

Crossfit heart-attack feeling.

Not just scared by it.

Day 8

Coach: “You triathlete?

You can live in the pain zone.”

Me: “No. But I know.”

Day 9

My olympic lifts

Are not much of an event.

Children outlift me.

Day 10

For kipping pull-ups,

I rubberband myself to

The bar, slingshot up.

Day 11

In warm-up, girl says,

“You look like the guy from ‘House.'”

Limping, rumpled, pissed.

Day 12

Coach eyes the one thir-

ty-five I’ll try 5 thruster

sets with. Asks, “You sure?”

Day 13

My hands blister from

Eighty-eight deadlift burpees.

I wince to high-five

Day 14

Hand-release pushups

Are a self-waterboarding

When you sweat a lot.

Day 15

I do headstand holds

Even though I have a cold.

Runny nose runs up.

Day 16

It’s easy to trick

Myself to do what I can’t.

Recovering ain’t.

Day 17

My hang power clean

Is not what one would call “clean.”

I’m working on it.

Day 18

Today’s WOD: AMRAP

WB’s, DL’s and

KB’s. FML.

Day 19

Coach posted a pic

Of me doing KB swings.

Gut looks distended.

Day 20

They play nu metal.

Compelling us to work out

To barking psychos.

Why Eat Bugs #1: Feed-Conversion Rates

July 1, 2014

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I don’t eat bugs. Not in a significant self-aware way, at least. But there are many good reasons to. I want to list the reasons I find most compelling—mainly as an exercise of pre-emptive self-persuasion. So that when I am confronted with a bowl of crickets, I can use these reasons to help me to overcome my culturally-constructed food avoidance.

In other words, I will use reason to get over the gross-out.

By the way, there’s a word for bug-eating. It’s “entomophagy…” an ugly stuffy-sciency word that’s another barrier to overcome.

One big reason eat bugs involve feed conversion rates. It’s well known how unsustainable current animal protein production is. However, compare this to insect protein production.

For example, if you take 10lbs of feed, it gets you the following conventional animal protein:

chicken

5lbs of chicken

pig

3lbs of pork

cow

1lb of meat

However, if you take the same amount of feed—10lbs—and give it to crickets, you get…

cricket9lbs of cricket meat!

That’s so much protein!

Since bugs are cold- blooded, they are much more efficient at converting feed to meat than their warm-blooded counterparts…which have to waste energy keeping themselves warm. They also don’t have to grow things that aren’t edible, like bones and fur and beaks. You pretty much eat all of the the cricket.

From sustainability point-of-view, the advantages are clear. You get almost twice as much insect protein from the same amount of feed than you would from chicken. You get 9 times as much as you would from a cow.

With increasing population rates, this type of food source could be a reliable and efficient protein source. It’s already happening in Thailand. 

However, is this enough for entomophagy (or better… maybe call it “land-crabbing”?) to take off in the US? Although it’s a lot of crickets, they are still crickets.

Although, I haven’t (knowingly) eaten crickets yet (can’t wait!), the efficiency of their production is a good reason.

 

Sources: 

Some of the Many Things I Learned from Richard Sennett’s THE CRAFTSMAN

October 26, 2009

sennettbookIt’s been awhile since I’ve been able to post. 2 reasons. Reason #1: Life. Reason #2: The Craftsman is a freaking dense 300-page book.

It’s dense, but it’s a rewarding density. Sennett is no marketing guru or new media Johnny-come-lately, but a real deal philosopher. He name drops fellow American pragmatist Richard Rorty and is probably a little too fond of his cello playing. So don’t walk into this thing expecting charts, slick lingo, or brisk case studies.

But walk into this thing you should (and expect to stay awhile). It is very much a work book. And a foundation shaking one, one of those special works which fundamentally changes you (like Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, and who also reviewed this book for the NYT). It is a game-changer, workspeak Sennett would never use.

Sennett’s central premise is how “making is thinking.” He uses craftwork, or the work you do with your hands, as a means of thinking about all work. It’s an awesome premise, brilliantly utilized. Sennett will start by talking about very concrete things like chopping vegetables or crafting a violin, and then extrapolate from these common or highly technical activities larger themes of universal applicability that both deepens and informs what it means to do a job.

This book makes you like work. It makes want to work better.

Comprehensive assessment of this book is impossible. There are numerous digressions into areas wide-ranging and esoteric (from Julia Childs’ recipe writing to Wittgenstein’s construction project). But if you’re able to hang onto the central conceit how making is thinking, how doing physical manual labor allows us a very effective means to think and improve on all kinds of work, you’ll acquire new sensitivities to and appreciations of worklife. Here were a few of the many neat ideas…

  • The Anti-Social Expert If you have (or are) one of these types in your work organization, it means something’s very wrong with your organization. Like violin craftsman Stradivardi who kept all the secrets to his craft to himself such that no one can reproduce his instruments, working in a structure that allows this isolation leads to downfall of this organization. The goal is to connect these experts to the non-experts, to make the experts accountable to the non-experts by making their skills understandable to all. By making the skills of your best understandable to the entire organization, it enables an overall understanding of quality and the means to achieve it.
  • The Hand: Unequal Strengths Working Together Look at your hand and how the pinky would have no chance in the ring with the thumb, or even forefinger. But that’s not to say it has nothing to contribute. From thinking about the hand’s coordination, Sennett draws larger insights on how to coordinate work among all such situations of unequal strengths. For example, like learning how shape a chord on a guitar, it happens best when practiced together.
  • Begin with Cleaving a Grain of Boiled Rice How should you approach any new task? What is the true demonstration of skill? You take the cue from master Chinese chefs who espouse the virtue of minimum force. Not by going all out, but by establishing a baseline of the minimum necessary power to get the job done. Less mess, more precision. It is also a means of self-government. Self-control is yet another form of mental understanding that emerges from hand skills.

There’s a lot more here. Maybe I’ll do another post.

Some Things I Learned from Chris Anderson’s FREE: THE FUTURE OF A RADICAL PRICE

August 24, 2009

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The latest from Chris Anderson, of The Long Tail fame. And like The Long Tail, it’s pretty upbeat about the trend it takes on: the increasing prevalence of free as a price. But, unlike The Long Tail, I’m left feeling unconvinced.

This could have a lot to do with having read Malcolm Gladwell’s critical assessment before picking up the book.

Anderson spreads himself really thin in a short book (short at least for the topic). And the bare parts show in many cases. For example, musicians facing the loss of CDs as a revenue stream, can only hope to be compensated by incessant touring or becoming Madonna-famous and sign a 360-deal. Journalists, where media institutions are undermined by opinionated crackpots freely blogging in bathrobes, can only hope to excel with their craft so as not to be compensated for practicing it, but by becoming a teacher and teaching it… and be compensated by teaching the crackpots how to write. How you get crackpots out of their bathrobes to register for a journalism class is beyond Anderson’s willy-nilly scope.

But because it is a short read, it’s still worthwhile to pick up. Anderson writes well enough, and he’s in touch with many of the examples of “free” pricing strategies and their effects that this book still still qualifies as a good start. Here are a few things I learned:

  • We are drawn to free because of our fear of loss. Drawing from Dan Ariely’s awesome behavioral economics book, Predictably Irrational, he references Ariely’s study with the chocolates and insights on why people seem to overvalue that which is freely offered. He spends on day selling 2 kinds of chocolates: cheapy Hershey Kisses for 1 cent and fine Lindt chocolate for 15 cents (way below market cost). People are kind of split and go for both. The next day, gives away the Hershey’s and sells the Lindt for 14 cents. Even though there is rationally no difference between the comparable values (14 cents), people pretty go for the free Hershey’s… not considering the value they get for the Lindt at 14 cents. I tend to think it’s just that people don’t want to bother trying to find the 14 pennies. But Ariely feels it’s that people fear loss. In our minds, by not paying, we risk nothing, so nothing will be lost.
  • Each new abundance creates a new scarcity. When you have free video games or music, you end up with scarce free time and attention. The excessive corn production has given us a lot of cheap crappy food, but not a lot of affordable and diverse produce or healthy people.
  • Information wants to be free and expensive. That famous annoyingly ridiculous cliche that information “wants” to be free is only a part taken from a paradox observed by Stewart Brand (counterculture dude behind the Whole Earth Catalog … which established the theory which created the WWW). He was discussing the ways in which information exists in this free-expensive paradox, it wants to spread meme-like, but it also creates/produces value. Anderson interviews him and asks why he gives information agency in the quote. Stew anthropomorphizes information because “it’s more poetic that way.” I can’t for the next programmer dude to tell me what information wants to do.

Anderson also references Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, which I’ll say again that this book will blow your mind and should be read immediately.

Some Things I Learned from Martin Lindstrom’s BUYOLOGY

July 20, 2009

BuyologyBookOnBlack

This book is rad. Clearly written with great and compelling counter-intuitive ideas, and neat and new research to support them.

A lot of reviews of this book have challenged the legitimacy of the research presented in Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. However, the key benefit of the book is not exactly about the legitimacy of the research. The data from new fMRI brain scan technology is so cutting-edge no one’s really too sure how to interpret or apply it with great effectiveness. I’m not sure the point of the book is to prove the veracity of the data.

Rather, this great book explains how the insights from this (however dubious) research is actively employed in advertisements and marketing strategies everywhere. Whether it’s about manipulating our mirror neurons, or taking advantage of our secondary brand associations, this book does a great job of calling our attention to the more subtle selling strategies that constitute the majority of the most exciting (and disturbing) marketing these days.

In addition to improving marketing practice, becoming aware of how the less conscious parts of your brain are actively targeted (I think) will be increasingly essential to what it means to be a self-aware person. It won’t just be about scrutinizing your belief system, but how the world is shaping your tastes and instinct.

For example, the sound your straw makes when it punctures the cup lid at McDonald’s is completely engineered for you to associate it with the restaurant. That sound becomes linked to thirst and the fast food meal in the sucker of a brain we all seem to have.

There are some many great ideas in this book. Here’s a few that will stick with me.

  • The Vampire Effect: Sex sells, but it only really sells itself. Or so Martin and crew discovered with a study analyzing people’s retention of sexually explicit ads vs. non-sexual ads. The sexually explicit ads certainly got more attention from our brain, but they didn’t do anything to effectively sell the product they were used in the service of. People had a much harder time recalling what the sexy ad was about than the not-sexy ad. Sex in advertising is said to have a “vampire effect,” effectively sucking our attention away from the content of the advertising message. Hot chix may be great, but don’t expect them to move vacuum cleaners.
  • Mirror Neurons: Martin describes contagious yawning as a function of mirror neurons, the neurons that fire for someone when they observe the actions of someone else. In the brain, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the observed’s action, as though the observer were his/herself acting. Thus, contagious yawning, as well as the thrill from watching action movies, and hunger when we see others eating. It is this neurological phenomena that marketers and advertisers manipulate repeatedly and with increasing sophistication. Beware of your reaction to ads portraying people doing stuff…you’re getting played.
  • Product Placements Don’t Work: Product placements, for the most part, do not work. Whether we see Brad Pitt nonchalantly take a bite of a Pizza Hut pizza, or Zooey Deschanel sneeze outside a FedEx Office, it does nothing to induce us to pursue (or even remember) that product or service. Only in the instance where the product is used as a key part of the plot (Reese’s in E.T.) does the placement have any resonance with the audience. Get ready movies where Joan Allen freaks out when her Cinnabon doesn’t have enough frosting…My screenplay, Joan Allen Spazzes at Cinnabon, has been optioned.

Some Thing I Learned From PUNK MARKETING

July 12, 2009

Picture 30To be sure, punk is marketing. However many cool bands and bad fashions it drove, the idea of punk was meant to sell by appropriating antagonistic feeling toward the suffocating traditional.  

To label marketing as “punk”  is kind of silly, borderline repetitive. Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons are on to this (or they eventually figured it out). They go to great effort and many pages to define what punk marketing is (unhelpful clue: it’s Southwest and it’s not SanDisk).

As a result, Rick and Mark end up kind of chasing their own collective tail. The definition has something to do with not selling the way a traditional marketer would. Ultimately, punk marketing is what they say punk marketing is, and that seems to be whatever successfully sells in a nontradtional way.

It’s a real weak premise. Nonetheless it gives 2 insiders the excuse to write about recent surprising marketing campaigns. Most of these campaigns have already been covered to a great extent already, but they write with a clear and irreverent tone. If you want a refresher on what you’re exposed to everyday, check it out. 

But don’t expect much depth. Although it touches on a lot successful campaigns, it doesn’t to any insightful depth. They seem to eschew marketing research and don’t really do a lot of work connecting the disparate stories they tell, or give reason why these campaigns were successful. It’s only advice is something like, “don’t be afraid be creative.”

Not a lot of insight here (I think I learned that I could probably write a marketing book if this is what passes for one). It does provide a lot of manifesto-ish rah rah, so it’s like a more readable Cluetrain. And there are a lot of pictures. This would be a fine coffee and/or bathroom book.

Some Things I Learned From THE CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO

June 20, 2009

Picture 13

I’m not sure I learned that much from this one. It’s 10 years old and it very much reads like a manifesto, occasioned by the buzz surrounding Thomas Petzinger Jr.’s 95 Theses. (Self-aggrandizing or ironic reference to Martin Luther?…I think it’s a little bit of both, however intended.)

Petzinger’s theses pertain to how business should be done, given the fallen barriers and hyper-networking of the Internet. They include “Markets are conversations”;  “Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.”; ” Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.”  After the theses, the book seems a little padded out by what read like a series of really long blog posts about the direction business, marketing and PR are heading. Ideas here aren’t really supported or described with any depth.

I don’t think that is the point of this book, though. Instead, it simply tells us that how we do business has changed, and we better accept the change. And tells us with breathless fervor. In place of depth, there is a lot of energy. In a way, it’s an inspirational book, one of the more complicated ones to be sure.

Here’s the story: To Petzinger et al, the Web functions like our collective “return of the repressed.” What was repressed: our voice and our sense of work as craft. We’ve been repressed by the industrial age the resulting corporate culture that seeks to remain branding compliant, impersonal, and risk-mitigating.  The language of doing business acquired a very distinctive banal and slippery impersonality. (“It’s not language, it’s camouflage.”) Our work is no longer an expression of ourselves, but simply adhering to guidelines. (There’s no specific reference to that other manifesto writer, Marx. Nonetheless, his spirit pervades. For example, he made the same observations on alienation in the workplace.) 

The Web happened the way it did in part because we’ve been silenced or mediated by that impersonality, and we wanted the means of our self-expression back. It’s the quasi-Marxist online revolution. We wanted to express ourselves in voice and in craft, and we want to experience the authentic voice and craft of others.  This is what people want (supposedly) since this is how markets were first created, with people talking in open air markets about who has the best camel our how awesome their clay pots are. We got away from that because we wanted more control. But that control was stultifying. The Web returns us to the early days of the open-air market. (There is a really nice pithy summation of this historical account, but oddly it doesn’t come until the end of the book.) 

Those companies who refuse to allow its business (its people) to speak authentically and use work as an expression of themselves, they are doomed. Corporations (who are by nature incapable of personality) are already on their way out, according to the Cluetrain folk.

Will the Internet return voice and craft to individuals? It’s nice to think so. So you end the book feeling pretty inspired and hopeful. Which is nice. But like any manifesto, it tends not to hold up to real scrutiny. There’s another book that needs to be written.