What social media really means
I keep coming back to Brad Graham's passing—three times since I first found out yesterday—and I keep getting a pit in my chest thinking about it.
I know Brad for one lone, random reason: he had a weblog in the 1990s, and so did I. Back then the blogosphere (a term Brad coined, by the way) was small enough that people could track it on a single webpage. Early bloggers were united by spirit: we were exploring a new medium, and we were very comfortably aligned with one another, despite our diverse interests.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how my connections to the old-school crowd are not as strong as they could—should—have been, mostly because I never got around to dining with my crowd at SXSW. I know lots of people from the early days, and they know me, but I see my old friend Anil Dash refer to these same people as his best friends and I realize I missed a moment.
Brad, though? Brad was your friend. Instantly and permanently. Smiles, embraces, forever remembered and fondly recalled. After our first meeting in New York, I became part of his hug-shaped social circle, and would regularly receive invites to meet him for a drink when he found himself in my city. This is how he treated everyone, and why my community is mourning him especially deeply.
Brad embodied the power of social media, long before it had such a name. Consider: brought together by technology and little else (check out the text in that first-meeting link) I became a longtime friend of a man a thousand miles away. His death is giving me recurrent waves of sadness, even though I hadn't seen him in several years. And I'm sharing my emotions with hundreds of people around the country, some of whom knew him well and others who never even met him in person.
Leave it to Brad Graham to remind us how powerful and touching this medium can be. We'll miss you, Brad. I know I already do.