I’m always interested in what Doc Searls has to say. Cluetrain remains a must read. I recently read his post on Building an relationship Economy. It expands on the idea that “Markets are Conversations” to include the importance of relationships. Markets work at three levels – transactions, conversations and relationships. Relationships are often overlooked in the industrialized world where price gets set by the forces of supply and demand. Given the escalating backlash against poor customer service, I can see a renewed emphasis on relationships in the marketplace and less focus on price.

So how does this fit in with higher education web sites? As part of the strategic planning process, a question I always ask is “why do you have a web site?”. Give me a simple, one sentence reason. As I’ve thought about this over the years, my answer to this question is “to build and sustain relationships”. The idea of building a relationship with our students from application to endowment. And with the arrival of the “social web”, we now have new tools at our disposal to make this a reality.