Case study: Kevin Warwick and the trouble with bloggers

Not a blogger himself Kevin Warwick, Chair of Cybernetics at Reading University, has felt the sharp edge of the tongue of many who are.


Following a talk at Stanford University a few years ago, Professor Warwick fell victim to a bit of post-event suggestion, via the blog of one audience member.

“The talk had gone really well, it was a brilliant audience, great line-up of speakers and so on – and was very well received.

“Then a few days later, a blog appeared saying this person had attended the talk and really enjoyed it, but then had gone online, found out a bit more about me, and decided I was an idiot!”

This, he says, was a salutory lesson in the power of the blog. “I realised the power of what’s out there – your digital identity, what’s on the Web about you, can have a huge effect on what people think about you.”

Taking action against bloggers, though, is not always that easy, as Professor Warwick discovered when some particularly negative comment appeared on a blog following a bit of political wrangling with Sussex University.

“A few years ago I did have a word with a solicitor about some stuff that was written about me in the Need To Know blog run by some guys at Sussex, which was a bit too much past the knuckle. But the advice I got was that there was no point in taking any action, because anything you do is more likely to fuel the fire of people posting this sort of comment.”