"As filmmakers we believe that no film can be too personal. The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments. Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim. An attitude means a style. A style means an attitude.”
"For every entry in the encyclopedia, there is now a Web site. For any idea you can imagine — and some you can't — there are thousands of articles and images electronically swirling around the globe. But that's not the real story. That's not the big news. The word that's going around, the word that's finally getting out, is something much larger, far more fundamental. The word that's passing like a spark from keyboard to screen, from heart to mind, is the permission we're giving ourselves and each other: to be human and to speak as humans."
Looking again at James MacGregor's guide to the Free Film Movement this morning, I was struck by how similar its founding statement is to some of the central ideas of Cluetrain. For those who haven't heard of it (which until a few months back included me), The Cluetrain Manifesto is an essay published by Rick Levine, Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger in 1999 looking at how business and communication was evolving on the Internet. Unlike the typical corporate sponsored report of that period, Cluetrain recognised a massive sea change in nature of business transactions, shifting from heavy top down systems (we will tell you what to buy) to loose non-heirarchical structures like eBay, and tranposing this shift to communication and the media saw a revolution brewing. At its heart is the idea that only by becoming more personal - as personal as is humanly possible - would an organisation or individual be able to stand out on the web where there are billions of pages and products competing for attention.
What's remarkable about the essay is that, with the explosion of blogs, vlogs, and sites like Flickr, MySpace, Digg, DeviantArt and Del.icio.us is how true this has proven to be, especially in the creative world. Like Hakim Bay's Pirate Utopias and the Temporary Autonomous Zone, it has been one of those defining texts that in retrospect look almost prophetic.
"From another perspective, the news is not good at all. Everybody's miserable. Everybody's had about enough. People are sick to death of being valued only as potential buyers, as monetary grist for some modern-day satanic mill.
They're sick of working for organizations that treat them as if they didn't exist, then attempt to sell them the very stuff they themselves produced. Why is a medium that holds such promise — to connect, to inspire, to awaken, to enlist, to change — being used by companies as a conduit for the kind of tired lies that have characterized fifty years of television? Business has made a ventriloquist's trick of the humanity we take for granted. The sham is ludicrous. The corporation pretends to speak, but its voice is that of a third-rate actor in a fourth-rate play, uttering lines no one believes in a manner no one respects.
Oh well. That's OK. We'll get by. We've got each other.
I have to laugh as I write that. The Internet audience is a strange crew, to be sure. But we're not talking about some Woodstock lovefest here. We don't all need to drop acid and get naked. We don't need to pledge our undying troth to each other, or to the Revolution, or to the bloody Cluetrain Manifesto for that matter. And neither does business.
All we need to do is what most of us who've discovered this medium are already doing: using it to connect with each other, not as representatives of corporations or market segments, but simply as who we are... Tell us some good stories and capture our interest. Don't talk to us as if you've forgotten how to speak. Don't make us feel small. Remind us to be larger. Get a little of that human touch. "