Monday, March 17, 2008

Russell Shaw

Definitely the saddest news I've ever posted about, and the hardest blog post I've had to write.

The news - Russell Shaw passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday in his San Jose hotel room. He wasn't with us at eComm last week, but was planning on attending - as usual - VON, which starts today in San Jose. Phew.

We got home Sunday morning, and I got the news first from Andy Abramson, and as I'm catching up on email this morning, others as well. You don't have to look far to find remembrances of Russell on the blogs, but a good starting point would be ZDNet's Larry Dignan.

What can you say? I'm just so surprised and saddened by the news. That's a given. I didn't know Russell personally, but will certainly express my condolences to his family, and companion Ellen. Russell was always one of my favorite bloggers. His posts were very wry, witty, and always had the hard edge of a seasoned journalist. They don't make 'em this way any more, and Russell always knew how to get a story, and to the heart of the matter. Just as importantly, he knew how to give the story, and how to tell the story. Those are subtle things that are very apparent to me, and you're not likely going to find them from everyday bloggers.

As a writer, I'll miss this from him in a big way. As a human being, I'll also miss Russell and his presence. He was always there in the press room at conferences, and always happy to talk about his stories or whatever I was working on. Always great to be around, whether at a conference, or at one of Andy's blogger dinners. Good memories, but a hard act to follow. To share that memory and keep it alive, I will keep Russell on my blog roll, and hope that others will visit and read him from time to time. I sure will.

Postscript. Mortality and Internet DO NOT MIX. I find it very odd talking about this on the Web, and as our lives become increasingly digitized, I guess we just learn on the fly how to deal with issues like this. The Internet is a virtual world - when you're online, you're somewhere else - you're not here - you're out there, somewhere. Real life is here and now - there's nothing virtual about it. As virtual as the Web is, though, it's permanent - it just goes on and on - or so we think. I don't really know what the etiquette is for death in the online world, but I know how I feel - sadness and a sense of loss. And I can't help but think of my own mortality - we'll all get there in due course. So, live each day in the here and now. You never know when your time is up. Adieu, Mr. Shaw.

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