Yale student Aleksey Vayner speaks to Times about video

October 21, 2006

News:  On the front page of its business section today, NYT has a lengthy article entitled “A Student’s Video Resume Gets Attention (Some of it Unwanted).”  Somewhat curiously, the article in a less sympathetic version is also entitled, more derisively, “The Resume Mocked ‘Round the World” on NYT’s website. 

The article is about Yale student Aleksey Vayner.  Vayner became (in)famous after a 7-minute video of himself he created and sent to investment banks got posted onto YouTube by The IvyGate blog.  The video was a bit much in terms of self-promotion, featuring Vayner purportedly bench pressing 425 pounds, serving 140 mph tennis serves (that’s Andy Roddick territory), and breaking a stack of bricks with his hand.  (The Utube Blog summarized the twisted course of events here).

After the video went “negative viral,” turning Vayner into almost the butt of derision, the Times reveals that Vayner went into seclusion, taking a leave of absence from Yale.

Analysis:  This is a very disappointing article.  Today’s sympathetic rewrite of the original NYT blog post avoids delving into some of the key aspects of the controversy, such as:

1.  Copyright issues:  The fact that YouTube took down the Vayner video after he complained about copyright infringement (which, to me, may be a potentially meritorious claim if some site continues to post the video without authorization), but the IvyGate blog then put up the video on its site and now the video appears to have resurfaced even on YouTube.

2.  Fraud and fabrication issues:  IvyGate blog has made many accusations that Vayner’s resume contains material misrepresentations and that some of his writings he plagiarized.  The Times article mentions this controversy briefly, but largely leaves it as the elephant in the room.

3.  IvyGate blog’s role:  I am very surprised the Times does not even mention the source of most of the blogging venom and accusations against Vayner — the IvyGate blog.  Isn’t that one of most important facts of the entire controversy?