There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.
Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?
How is it we can know people we haven’t met yet? After nearly 20 years of doing this, I’m still amazed by that. I never met Lee. I can’t say that I knew her. I talked to her a few times. We worked on a couple projects together. I have seen a few things that she and her students accomplished.
But I knew her better than some of the people who live on my street, and some of the people who go to my church, and some of the people who work in my school. When Dave sent out a message to the EdTechTalk community last week that things weren’t looking good, many of us stopped what we were doing.
How do you react to a critical health situation involving a friend you only know online? None of us knew. We can’t very well show up at the house with a covered hot dish for the family. Ignoring the practical limitations of distance, we don’t know where she lives. We certainly don’t know her family. And they might be just a little freaked out if people they’ve never met or heard of started showing up.
Lisa started organizing a food effort. People could contribute via Paypal, and she’ll make arrangements for gift cards for local restaurants and grocery stores. Of course there will be flowers. And a donation to the cancer society. That’s all very-well-worn ground.
In the text chat that followed (12,000 words in the next 50 hours or so), the community invented ways to memorialize Lee. There was a webcast Friday night, so people could call in with Skype and share remembrances. A tribute page was created, so people could leave comments. And they have, with more comments posted on Lee’s page than we’ve seen in years. Someone put together a voicethread, so people could leave audio comments. Others started collecting and editing audio from webcasts, podcasts, and other discussions that Lee participated in. Tributes are planned in a number of EdTech webcasts over the next couple weeks. The family was contacted and condolences expressed. Several members of the community were able to speak with Lee’s husband and sister. As Jeff put it, it’s awkward online just like it’s awkward face-to-face. So you just do it.
The memorial service today won’t be webcast. And while I know that there are a couple dozen people who would watch it live online if they could, it’s probably better that way. The online community is developing new ways to memorialize, new ways to remember, new ways to say goodbye.
We’ll miss you, Lee.