It is quite often the case that people feel isolated when they have a problem with a company or organisation.
Many people may not be aware of the powerful search tools that can help them find out more about an organisation's reputation than you will get from their official websites or the often PR-led mainstream media.
Google blog search and Twitter search, which recently incorporated Summize, are both becoming increasingly stronger tools as more people express their views online. Because you can skim through snippets, you can get a quick overall picture of positive or negative comments and also delve deeper into stories that might show national trends. It adds greatly to our ability to hold organisations accountable as they increasingly try to build big walls around themselves.
It adds to the usefulness of main Google which, as I've blogged before, will often get you to answers that are missing from corporate websites. This week I tried to visit Stikipad and just got a holding page, suggesting it would be up and running soon. Later, a Google search took me along the same track as many more people to a blog post that revealed the site had actually been down for several months and showed no signs of revival. What started out as one person's frustrated blogspost became a focal point and the link rose further up Google as more people linked to it. The post became a bubbling, collaborative space to the extent that once personal phone numbers and details went up the original author asked everyone to leave when the party looked like turning nasty (or rather, libellous).
It highlights two important points. First of all, if you're having a frustrating time with a company it is worth documenting your experience online somewhere, if you feel ready to, because it should get picked up by others, possibly including a quick-witted person from the organisation. Second, it is a reminder that most forums, and Twitter, are public and if you're working for clients you might think twice before slagging them off online in any place that can be traced back to you. You don't know whose desktop it might pop up on...