Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In passing - Russell Shaw

The kind of work that I do brings me in contact with a lot of people. Of course, the word, "contact", is a little misleading. I rarely actually meet the people with whom I work. Journalists call from afar and get to know my voice. Clients often brief me by phone before I pick up my pen and write something. Other folks never interact directly with me at all: Instead, they pick up a quote they found online and incorporate it into an updated piece or blog post.

Bottom line: I touch a lot of people and a lot of people touch me. And that definition of "touch" is changing in the age of the Internet.

Russell Shaw touched me. The prolific tech journalist penned, among other things, a BlackBerry blog for ZDNet and, at a couple of points along the way, picked up on something I said and commented on it. No biggie for him, I'm sure, but a neat win for me because it's always fun to be noticed by a pro.

For a fun read, click here for his first comment on me. He basically ripped me a new one. Here's another one where he called me a clued-in analyst. Great fun! Years after these first posts hit the web, people still read them and then follow the link home to my blog. Sadly, there will be no more entries from Mr. Shaw. While in San Jose to cover an industry show last Thursday, he died in his sleep. He was 60.

Like a silent sentinel to a life cut short, his website speaks of all the projects he had on the go, unaware that he'd never be able to finish them all.

As further evidence that our ever-more-interactive world is changing the way we live and die, news of his passing is percolating through the blogosphere, allowing different people in different places to mourn and reflect in unique ways (Google News search here.) Tools aside, I find it sad when a voice like Mr. Shaw's is silenced, for we're all left to wonder what was left unsaid. And who will step into his shoes to keep the conversation going.

Your turn: Passing away in the Internet Age. Please discuss.

Update - April 6, 2008 - The New York Times is running this piece, In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop. Byline Matt Richtel.

1 comment:

Sol said...

You are lucky.. you know which allows you the chance to mourn.

I have a friend I haven't heard from since the wild fires in California. I don't know if he's okay or alive. If he was alive he'd have let me know. At least.. that's what I believe.

There are people I've met online only and if I passed away they wouldn't know. I would simply disappear with no other word the same with them.. I'd not know.

I think it makes it harder than real life.