Joe Gordon, who was fired by Waterstone’s for blogging a few frustrated comments about his employers, has now been hired by Forbidden Planet, thus making at least one of my predictions come true - a better job with better pay.
Joe is still waiting for news of his appeal against Waterstones, and to see whether an industrial tribunal will be required. Whilst it would be tedious for Joe to have to go to these lengths to gain recompense for Waterstone’s idiotic behaviour, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I am sure I am not be the only person to wonder curiously how the lawyers and trade unions view blog in relationship to such concepts as freedom of speech, public domain and bringing a company into disrepute.
I’m also curious to know what internal changes will or have occurred at Waterstone’s now that the person who fired Joe for allegedly bringing the company into disrepute has managed to actually and measurably bring the company into disrepute. But I guess that’s something I’ll never find out.
Reading through Joe’s archive, though, it seems that he was not actually the first person in the UK to get fired for blogging - JGram and Dykenee Crossroads (whom I can’t find online) have also been fired for their blogs. Back in November, JGram blogged the official letter and reason for his firing, however, the original posts have been removed, so it’s impossible to say whether the company he worked for were overreacting or not.
My belief remains that frequently blogs are an excuse - whether used by the company to get rid of someone that they just don’t like, or the blogger to cover up some other misdemeanour. Blogs remain a minority occupation misunderstood (or not understood at all) by many. People frequently fear that which they do not understand and fear can breed illogical over-reactions at worst and a pretence of non-existence at best.
Illustrative of this was the conversation I had with my Lloyds TSB business bank manager on Thursday as I attempted to update him as to what I am doing with myself. The subtext - and it was not a particularly well hidden subtext - from him was ‘I do not understand what you are doing, I do not believe that what you are doing is important, and I do not believe that you will be successful’. Not only did he actually tell me that he didn’t understand what I was doing or how I could make a living from it, he actually implied that no amount of effort on my part would ever result in my being successful and that no amount of explaining would ever make him understand.
Now, this doesn’t have a particularly big impact on me, but it will do on Lloyds TSB when I move two business accounts and at least one personal account away from them to another bank because I’m fed up of having to deal with an ignorant, rude and ineffectual idiot of a bank manager. Ah, the power of the customer.
But all this is is just another illustration that it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you are on, employee/employer or business/customer, you’ve got to keep your eye on that blog-shaped ball.