Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The first ChangeThis manifestos are up. They're definitely worth reading and commenting on. I have the honor of being one of the advisors who gets to read them and make comments before they come out.


I'm sorry, but "manifesto" is an awfully strong word to use for this content. These are nicely written journalistic articles that are part of the very overt field of business self-publishing.

I think the idea of coopting historical moments of disruption for mass-consumable punditry is quaint at best, irresponsible at worst. The very idea that revolution can be
"standardized" is -- let's just say it -- offensive.

Marinetti's "Futurist Manifesto" was published in 1909 in the Parisian rag "Le Figaro." Marinetti targeted Le Figaro not only because it was a large circulation daily, but also because he thought the Parisians would be most receptive to its ideas. It also helped Marinetti position Italy as a locus of coherent, productive thought, which fed into his later quasi-nationalistic It's influence on later events in the early 20th century was significant, and trackable, even if not always positive (the Italian Futurist Party became quickly associated with Mussolini, who, even if Marinetti later renounced, showed the real consequence of some of the articles in the manifesto).

I'm all for blogs and the like, but this kind of white-collar lollygagging is just a sad excuse for self-promotion. "Vote for your favorite manifesto"? The revolution may not be televised, but apparently it will be strained into a branded, celebrity-endorsed saccharin. Gag.

Joi quoted Shimon Peres in a blog that went "What can you learn from History? Very little... History was written with red ink, wth bloodshed. We should educate our children how to imagine, not how to remember." I believe the intangibles in business are what's shaping the world around us now. Why not be a part?

OMG!!! Full circle.

Good to see Guy Kawasaki's name again after all this time... it's like a flashback into the future.

I'm certainly not advocating violence. The Marinetti example was meant to show how one manifesto very carefully chose its targets. I am trying to situate this particular set of artifacts in a cultural history. The Peres comment has been mildly controvercial, primarily in the context of Jewish history, in which memory and remembrance have always been important. I don't remember Joi explicating his sentiments about the Peres quote, nor do you here, so I can only imagine that you are both responding to the objection to violence, but not to the call to "forget," which seems to need a good deal of working-through.

Quite simply: I find offensive the notion that cultural, social, political change can become standardized. Any of these "manifestos" may have real merit -- but passing them all through some kind of iterable, software-driven machine for change... that's what I object to. Specific social change has targets, has precedents, and -- yes -- has history.

By the way, I think if you follow the link to my work you'll see that I'm very much a part.

Aw c'mon! This is just Seth Godin's little publicity project, couched in a layer of feel-good nonsense "manifestos". Gimme a break. My guess is this trash will sink pretty fast, but it'll bring in a number of good gigs for Godin.

Many of the start up manifestos so seem to be self promotion pieces, just as many blogs are self promotion blogs. It's not like a venue which allows self promotion brings some new horror into existence. Someone wrote about executions for those under 18 - although even there I'm not sure that is a big a problem overall as poverty and HIV.

Joi you might as well write something about entrpreneurship - maybe even whatchamacallit, the standup motor scooter. You could do better than that Apple guy

:-) and plenty of people would be interested.

Two words -- RSS feeds. If this is a "new kind of media", why use old e-mail subscriptions?


I agree with your basic premise that cultural, social, political change cannot be standardized.

However that is not the point of a project like Changethis. You are a intelligent guy, but you are overthinking the basic conceptual premise.

Think of Changethis (or Blogs in general) as simply a standardized idea distribution channel - not a revolution generator. Basic ideas, followed by incremental and consistent action by a critical mass of individuals (within a timely context) brings about a true revolution. is not about action. It is simply about providing a way to promote discussion and thought distribution. What historical role has the bullhorn and the soapbox had in facilitating revolutions around the world? Huge. Does anyone consider the bullhorn and the soapbox as tools that try to standardize revolutions? Doubt it. It is simply about getting thought out there and creating conversations around these, and related, ideas. The top vote getting idea does not necessary equal instant revolution.

It may be the simple "manifesto" that gets 3 votes that is read by someone, like you or me, who can take the kernel of this idea and turn it into incremental, consistent and ultimately revolutionary action.

Just the fact that we are discussion this project creates new thought. I did not know you, or, existed until I searched looking for discussion about

People with common purposes and ideas finding each other, debating, discussion, and possibly cooperating is the point. Think about the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order effects that can come about from projects like this.

Enjoy teaching at Ga. Tech,

Georgia Tech - B.I.E. Fall 1997

3 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: The first ChangeThis manifestos.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Avoiding McChange from Water Cooler Games
August 18, 2004 9:26 PM

Today Joi Ito pointed to the launch of ChangeThis, a website that purports to offer "A form of media that uses existing tools (like PDF files, blogs and the web) to challenge the way ideas are created and spread." The... Read More

Mister "Don't Call Me Ito-san" Ito posted something about some new manifestos online, and there's no better summer reading than a good manifesto so I checked them out. The first one is called The Art of the Start by wizened... Read More

Collection of Manifestos (unfortunately PDF) to encourage rational thought. Read More