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Spit Leads to Dummy Spit For TechCrunch Founder

Michael Arrington, founder and co-editor of major online blog, TechCrunch, has taken the online equivalent of a dummy spit after being spat on at the DLD Conference in Germany and is going to be taking the next few weeks away from his laptop and iPhone (of course, he just has to cover the World Economic Forum, first).

In a long post at TechCrunch, Arrington spells out how the incident took place, a brief coverage of prior incidents at conferences, and even a death threat last year.

As abhorrent as the act might have been, it seems that Arrington has been building to some sort of public incident for some time, based off both his reporting of prior incidents and also the level of frustration that many seem to have with him after either being covered in the wrong way at TechCrunch, or in not being covered at all. Accusations of arrogance seem to be supported by articles like this, which is sure to have annoyed a whole industry, and not just one or two entrepreneurs.

The phantom spitter has now achieved a fame all for themselves, but with a list of people who dislike Arrington as long as it is, the true identity of the spitter may never be known.

It has become rapidly apparent to anyone following the incident that Arrington is a personality who polarises people, and there are plenty of people who have quietly cheered the attack or who have expressed a complete lack of surprise that Arrington had attracted such attention. While Arrington acknowledges the presence of negative response to his work, he doesn't seem to acknowledge what he has done in creating that polarisation, even when clearly stating his distrust and suspicion of people who approach him.

Ignoring all that has gone before, intentionally turning away from someone who is approaching you can be considered a bit of an insult. By itself, it isn't enough of an insult to be spat on (nothing should be), but it should be remembered that in the past, spitting in someone's face was regarded in many places as a sign of contempt, anger, or hatred towards the victim, something that Arrington appears to have attracted in significant amounts.

Unfortunately, it seems that a little bit of saliva has achieved more than all the electrons of vitriol that have been directed at Arrington over the years and forced him to reassess what he does and how he does it. When he comes back from his break, it will be worth watching to see whether the contemplative period has made Arrington more mellow in how he writes, or if he's going to give up in a huff. Based off some of his earlier comments about changes to himself over the period of setting up and running TechCrunch, a break to contemplate the what, how, and why is probably well needed.

29 January 2009

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