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The Last Post

By Janet Wilson May 24th, 2010

This site on which you’re reading this post is the product of the hard and clever work of Paul Reynolds and his wife, Helen.

We could not believe it when, on Sunday, we received the call that Paul had suddenly died.

He commented on one of our posts just a few days ago, last week he spoke at a social media conference and he was filing material on his own Facebook, his blog peoplepoints and Twitter accounts as late as Thursday afternoon. By late Saturday morning, he was gone.

It’s testimony to Paul and Helen’s great skills as teachers that two old analogue dinosaurs like us could suddenly come to terms with operating a website – although, if we have to admit it, we must have disappointed him with our infrequency of posts, the failure to illustrate our arguments as well as he would suggest and our babbling of technological malapropisms. When the website was being built he would engage us in patient, passionate discussion about blogging.  The fact it was the media of the future.  And, even though he was older and wiser, it was he dragging us, these two Mainstream Media denizens, into the Twentyfirst Century.

Paul was the earliest of early adopters. Years ago, when we were still barely coming to grips with handling Microsoft Word, we both used to listen to his articulate and literate radio commentaries on the Brave New World of the web and its potential. His grasp of his subject was immense and he had the ability to put the most complex of arguments into easily digestible English.

He understood and knew where that information super highway was taking us long before we did. A time when most of us saw it as a gimmick or a toy, he saw the global information industry that would soon arise.

Paul Reynolds, Internet Visionary

Paul Reynolds, Internet Visionary

The thing we will miss most is his mind. His intellect. His calm, logical way of stating his case with such wry humour. His ability to see a bigger picture than the rest of us could and cogently explain it to those of us who were a little slower than he. These were attributes he brought to the board of the Auckland War Memorial Museum Board, which he left just last year.

The frustrating thing is we had only just really got to know him. We’d sampled less than 1% of his wit, humour and wisdom. It’s hard not to feel somehow cheated.

We aren’t the only ones who feel that way. See the grieving comments on his Facebook page, the tributes on Russell Brown’s http://www.publicaddress.net/hardnews and a special tribute page at http://internetnz.net.nz/paulreynolds to sense the common feeling of loss.

Our thoughts are very much with Helen and Paul’s daughter Melanie.

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