Now don't get me wrong, I signed up to the Cluetrain seven years ago and fully agree that markets are conversations, but I've noted a recent tendency for conversation to be lauded regardless of its nature. There's a moment at the very of this short video (from Hugh's Hallam Foe project) that crystallised the whole debate for me.
The cameraman - a relative newcomer to this blogging thing - complains that the discussion has become a rambling conversation and wants to steer it back to something else while a veteran blogger responds that when things become a conversation it gets interesting.
In my eyes, both are simultaneously right and wrong.
The democratisation of open conversation rightly threatens the sometimes dubious credentials and entrenched views of executives, politicians and media and opens up huge new opportunities. But, just because everyone has the right and now (to some extent) the forum in which to express an opinion, it doesn't mean that opinion has any validity or value and we should never forget that.
From a marketing perspective, you must, must, must encourage multiple conversations, but a vital new skill lies in mediating that conversation without influencing it. While it's conceivable that you might censor some valid input by doing this (though I doubt it), the benefit derived from being able to navigate through the noise must outweigh this.