Bowling Alone: Another Look At Rajeev Matwani's Death

Remembering Rajeev It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of my teacher and good friend Professor Rajeev Motwani. But I would rather not dwell on the sorrow of his death and instead celebrate his life. ........ When my interest turned to data mining, Rajeev helped to coordinate a regular meeting group on the subject. ...... Later, when Larry and I began to work together on the research that would lead to Google, Rajeev was there to support us and guide us through challenges, both technical and organizational. ..... Of all the faculty at Stanford, it is with Rajeev that I have stayed the closest and I will miss him dearly.

Rajeev Motwani's death has made me think about a few things at a very fundamental level. I did not know the guy, although I had read about him a few times in passing, had taken pride in an Indian's involvement with something as fundamental as Google: I am half Indian, born in India, grew up next door in Nepal, the poorest country outside of Africa. But had forgotten his name.

Why was he alone? That was the question that struck me, echoed in my mind.

Growing up it was hard if not impossible for me to be alone. There were always people around. The first American city I got to see was Indianapolis. I was taken downtown. My first question was, but where are the people?

At a gut level I always thought of the phrase Third World to be racist. The suggestion is that the so-called Third World is two steps behind the First World on everything. And that simply put is not true.

I went to a school in Kathmandu founded by the British. Every year they would bring along two high school graduates from Britain. They would teach for a year and then go back to college in Britain. I asked one of them after they had been in Nepal a month. So what's the difference? He said he had been in Nepal a month, and he had yet to meet someone who was depressed. That was his tribute to the emotional infrastructure he witnessed.

A few years in America I read online somewhere that Nepal has been the top choice among Peace Corps volunteers during the entire half century of that program's existence.

I once read in an anthropological journal article somewhere that some "tribes" - another racist term - in Africa handled adolescence better than the American society did.

I am

Srinivasa RamanujanImage via Wikipedia

pretty hard nosed about where I come from. I don't glamorize poverty, I don't glamorize children dying from petty diseases. There is much sexism where I come from. Complaining of ethnic prejudice is almost second nature to me. I wish wealth and broadband upon my peoples.

But Global South is the term to use. Otherwise the same white people who have destroyed the environment over 500 years are turning around to lecture you on the environment. What's wrong in the picture?

Why was Rajeev Motwani alone? Why was Ramanujan lonely in England?

Motwani was in the prime of his life, both personally and professionally.

These questions also tie into my recurring theme at this blog, that the human element is central to the web as technology.

Each Snowflake Is Unique
Hunger, Vision, Money
Google's Newest Venture: Google Ventures
The Human Is The Center Of Gravity In Computing

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