Power to the public

Two good, anecdotal illustrations of the power that our tools of publicness give to us, the public.

* Bank of America customer Molly Katchpole collected 300,000 names in an online petition against the bank’s ripoff $5 debit card charge and beat down the behemoth. True, the banks have been guilty of greater ripoffs, but this is still a victory for the customers as a community over the corporation.

It’s one matter for individual customers to resort to blogs and Twitter (as I have) to get satisfaction from companies. It’s another for customers to be able to organize without organizations. Before the net, customers couldn’t have created their own instant network of protest. The net empowers them.

So now companies don’t just need to hire people to watch Twitter and blogs and put out fires. Now they have to fear that their abusive policies will become the subject of large-scale, instant protests. Any company whose business model still depends on holding us prisoner to its policies — banks, cable companies, telcos, airlines, insurance companies — had best learn a lesson.

* And bravo to the kid who recorded and posted the psycho rant of a high-school football coach in suburban Memphis. Yes, some might argue that the coach’s privacy was violated. I say ridiculous. The coach thought he could get away with abusing the children in his care behind closed doors, but now, thanks to a phone and the net, the children can fight back by making his abuses public. Even the coach appears to have learned a lesson.