Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sabbatical

I really didn’t expect anyone to notice my hiatus from the blogosphere (VCs' vacations generally do go un-noticed). But inquisitive emails trickled in, accelerating in frequency to a daily occurence over the past two weeks. Having dropped by the Dow Jones investor conference for an hour this afternoon, no fewer than 8 people asked me what the hell is up with my blog.

To those who inquired I’m happy to assure that all is well--Life, as always, has been glorious. I’d simply decided that after 6 months of regular blogging, I needed a month sabbatical. (Who Has Time For This?) Distracted by several new consumer investments to be announced in coming weeks, the month stretched into two. (Truthfully, I was also distracted by 43 games of Yahoo Chess. Here's a tip: a pretty female avatar is the fastest way to attract players to your table.)

It was actually hard not to blog. So many events in the past two months have cried out for superficial and self-righteous commentary…. the RSA trade show, the Mohammed Cartoons, the whiny AOL Email Backlash, bank-robbing internet worms, the terribly disappointing resignation of Harvard President Larry Summers, and various fun things I did (dining with Jimbo and Reid, skiiing in Utah, penning cows, crashing the TechCrunch BBQ). I just have to chime in…

Readers of this blog no doubt recall my critique of Time Magazine for pandering to Christianity at the expense of journalistic integrity, which began “For those of you who think we have a free press…” Well now Islamic forces pollute our news sources as well—not with economic threats to their levels of readership but with physical threats to editors who publish cartoons. I shivered reading the preacher quoted in the NY Times warning “We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible.”

Fortunate to be on Sabbatical, my principles didn’t compel me to publish images on my blog that might provoke physical retaliation (I hate violence—especially the kind directed at me). I am simply not as brave as the heroic, outspoken Arab-American psychologist from L.A. interviewed on Al Jazeera.

Not that I could have easily published the images. Anonymously but still seriously threatened with harm, the entrepreneurs behind image hosting providers have decided that the cartoons now violate their Content Moderation policies. At least we can all rationalize our cowardice with Phil Kennicott’s observation in the Washington Post that the cartoons weren’t particularly good.

A similarly disappointing defeat of intellectual courage was Larry Summers’ resignation in the face of faculty resistance to change. To appreciate Harvard University President Summers’ contribution to higher education, read this Harvard Crimson editorial written by my college roommate David Laibson (whose groundbreaking work on behavioral economics I profiled here).

Whew. It's nice to get things off my chest again.

11 comments:

  1. Welcome back. I drove the product side of the acquisistion that built Yahoo! Games (including Y! Chess) back in 1998. Probably the best ROI of any purchase Y! ever made. Glad you seem to enjoy it.

    Now we're up to something new.

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  2. Welcome back!

    The cartoon "controversy" is not only about cowardice, it's also about Relativism and Patronization.

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  3. Oh, and thank you for the plug on the panel at the Dow Jones conference yesterday!

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  4. We need to play each other in chess online. Auren Hoffman turned me on to RedHotPawn -- http://www.redhotpawn.com -- probably a richer feature set than Yahoo.

    We agree on the cartoons and on Summers.

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  5. Welcome back David.

    Looking forward to hearing what fundings you've been involved with in the near future.

    Jason

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  6. A recent issue of the New Yorker (the cover with Eskimos at the 125,000 street station) has a great send-up of the Islamic cartoons fiasco in it.

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  7. Welcome back David...I am getting one of my regular "reads" back I hope.
    As someone applying for an MBA I think I'll find useful the real world experiences you have...

    I had posted about the cartoon issue too:
    http://jsridhar.blogspot.com/2006/02/casting-first-stone.html

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  8. Welcome back! I discovered your blog just after the pitchcraft post, and then you disappeared. I was bereft and had to console myself with copious servings of archives. So happy to have fresh words to look forward to.

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  9. dspooner3:33 AM

    Welcome back

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  10. Welcome back friend.

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  11. Ah, good to have you back! I have a link to your blog on mine and was wondering whether I would need to remove it. And since I've returned to the party a bit late I have a lot of catching up to do :)

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