On being a doormat

Take a look at this post on Naked Conversations. It describes a story where a blogger working for IBM raised the ire of a school, an IBM customer, who then threatened IBM with a “student protest” where students would “burn their Thinkpads” if IBM didn’t fire the blogger. The blogger quit, in an effort to avoid embarrassing IBM. There’s more here.

IBM is a doormat because what student is going to burn a perfectly good laptop, just because their school told them to do it? They’re also a doormat for letting the blogger quit. I’d hate to be the salesman negotiating the next contract with that school…

The blogger is a doormat because IBM, dominator of many markets, inventor of many great things, who very nearly missed the PC revolution because of their own lard-inertia has suffered and dealt with embarrassment on a scale that dwarfs students burning laptops.

The school isn’t a doormat. They’re just stupid. Rather than refute the claims the blogger originally made, they attack the guy’s boss? This expresses not only glaring guilt, but fear bordering on panic.

Of the three parties, I think the blogger has obviously been the most honorable, but perhaps to a fault. What the blogger wrote was even handed, sourced, and professionally written – this was not a hate piece. If bloggers want to be treated as genuine journalists, then they have act as journalists would – and that means not backing down from the story, even when it gets a little messy, even for IBM. However, I am by no means an expert in the local culture involved.

IBM acted as one would expect any large, blunt, bureaucratic organization to act, only without the intelligence and panache. They lost a good person to avoid a petty conflict. Par for the course.

The school acted as one would expect a barely-legal fly-by-night degree mill to act, only without the credibility.

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