The world is a bit darker tonight. Oliver Starr relayed the tragic news that Marc Orchant passed away earlier today. I've sat here tonight saddened... with my thoughts very definitely going out to his family... especially at this time of year.
And then, as a writer, I feel compelled to write. It seems really the only way to honor Marc's passing.
By most measures, I did not know Marc well. We never met face-to-face. I did not work directly with him. He had not ever interviewed me, nor I him. We had not participated in any joint projects. But in this crazy world of interconnected social media, it sure felt like I knew him. I'd been reading his ZDNet "Office Evolution" blog all along up until August when he left to join Oliver Starr in starting up us.blognation.com. There on blognation I enjoyed his writing and followed along as wrote about the latest Apple happenings, talked about how he liked his Kindle reader and ultimately how he removed himself from Facebook. Since he occasionally wrote about Skype, something I cover here as well, I did pay attention especially to those posts.
Marc and I did "meet" virtually through Robert Sanzalone's "Pacific IT" Skype groupchat, where Marc participated for a few months this fall. He pointed me to what he considered the best mobile VoIP handset around. We chatted about the new MacBookPro's. He sent me a Jaiku invite when I was looking for one... the kind of ordinary things that happens in such group chat rooms. He was helpful, kind, courteous... a consummate professional.
Perhaps why his death strikes me so hard is because he was one of us... a "tech blogger"... a writer... a storyteller.
He used words to help try to make sense out of the insanity that surrounds us on any given day. He tried to educate... enlighten... de-mystify. He wrote well and with an enjoyable style. He told stories.
And now he is gone.
What remains is his family (donations are being collected by Oliver Starr) and, of course, in this era of Google and seemingly infinite disk farms... his words:
- his past writing of ZDNet's Office Evolution blog
- his writing on us.blognation.com
- his own blog at blog.platformagnostic.net
- his LinkedIn profile
- his Twitter stream and Jaiku stream (his Jaiku feed also includes his other blog posts)
- his shared items on Google Reader
- his newly-created Tumblelog
And undoubtedly many more places than those I've listed here. Technorati also pulled up this video of Marc in 2005 explaining what a blog is:
There are perhaps more of those out there as well... and undoubtedly pictures in Flickr and other such sites.
Now, for the rest of us, all we can really do (outside of donating to Marc's family) is to remember him. Consider this my entry in building that collective memory... in helping in some small way to tell Marc's story. I've seen posts already from Alec Saunders, Aaron Brazell, Tris Hussey (on blognation),Robert Scoble... and I'm sure we'll see many more in the hours and days ahead.
No mere words can ever replace a loved one, but perhaps in some small way they can offer some degree of solace to Marc's family to know that he was valued by others... that what he did mattered... and that the world is a better place for him having been here.
Rest in peace, Marc... thank you for all you shared.