What about the children? Palo Alto High School teacher Esther "Woj" Wojcicki took time away from educating future reporters to write about America's teens for the Huffington Post. In the piece, she promotes a nonprofit letter-writing project sponsored by Google and touts the use of Google Docs. No surprise there: Woj, whose daughter Anne is married to Google cofounder Sergey Brin and whose daughter Susan is a Google executive, has been promoting Google's pet causes from the first. But only now, after Valleywag has twice pointed out Woj's failure to disclose family conflicts of interest, has she started to include a disclaimer. Too bad it's deceptive.Woj's new disclaimer reads:
Esther Wojcicki, known as "Woj" at Palo Alto High School, where she teaches journalism, is a beloved figure on campus. She's also quite welcome at the Googleplex, as the mother of Anne Wojcicki, who's married to Google cofounder Sergey Brin, and Google executive Susan Wojcicki. I wonder if proximity to power and wealth has dulled Woj's reportorial instincts.She recently wrote a wide-eyed travelogue for the Huffington Post about the first flight of the Zeppelin NT, a blimp launched by startup Airship Ventures. Airship is backed by Esther Dyson, who is also an investor in her daughter Anne's startup, 23andMe. That, at the least, Woj ought to have disclosed. (I've asked Mario Ruiz, an executive at Huffington Post, if she violated any of the online publication's disclosure rules for writers; he has yet to reply. But if she really wanted to impress her students with her journalism chops, Woj might have asked questions about Amphitheatre LLC, the shadowy entity which has also invested in Airship Ventures. Amphitheatre shares a name with the street address of Google's headquarters — and possibly more. I would love to have known what Woj would have discovered, had she been less interested in promoting her daughter's investor's new startup.
Don't hold his Spider-Man role as whiny billionaire Harry Osborn against James Franco. He's far more devious than the Green Goblin could ever be. The actor, studying for a master's in creative writing at UCLA, swooped down on Palo Alto High School yesterday seeking short stories from its students about their high school experience — hopefully something other than their schoolgirl crushes on Daniel from Freaks and Geeks. The actor plans to incorporate them into a novel about growing up in Silicon Valley. Where did Franco get such a brilliant idea for YouTube-style user-generated content?
Huffington Post's Esther Wojcicki gushes over Google's Lunar X Prize. It's not the $30 million those nice Google boys, Larry and Sergey, are offering whomever can successfully land a rover on the moon. This Palo Alto schoolmarm is keen on all the teaching tools the Lunar X Prize is providing educators. She writes, "The team at the Lunar Xprize has prepared free learning guides, videos and other resources to help stimulate student interest not only in space but in math, science and technology as well." She sees this as an effort to rectify the "anti-science trend in schools." Google's efforts are all well and good, but there's another reason why this journalism teacher is so sweet on Larry Page and Sergey Brin — she's Brin's mother-in-law. Her daughter Anne married him in May. But the Google ties go even deeper. Her daughter Susan Wojcicki is Google's VP of product managementand Susan's garage in Menlo Park served as the search engine's first headquarters. Even daughter Janet is married to a former Googler.