Last night I learned about the death of Dean Cameron Allen, of Textism, TextPattern and Textile fame. I retweeted Ethan Marcotte’s message, adding this: “Nooooo!! One of the pillars of my early(ish) web life with his writing and his code and his dogs.”
It’s a huge loss. Not directly personal for me, or because of a specific thing he might have written but for the important, talented place he occupied during what might be called the golden age of the indie web. From, what? 1998? To something like 2006-07—maybe a bit earlier or later depending on your feelings towards fullness of glasses—the web was at its best.
Yes, it included the dot com crash and the moronic companies and funders that caused it but it was also when so many people were learning how to build stuff on the web, creating their own presence there, discovering each other and sharing. Back when sharing meant writing a blog post and commenting on others’, when you could check your referrers and see an actual article, instead of checking replies and getting 140 characters. Or getting tens of notifications because you liked something.
It was the time when people were pouring their hearts out, and exploring, and learning. When every day I might read 10-15 intelligent posts (and some shit ones) instead of 200 tweeted links, jokes and complaints. (Not that we weren’t joking and complaining on our blogs!) I’m hoping I’m not seeing everything through rose coloured hindsight but I don’t think I am.
It was also the time of the heydays of Yulblog (my posts). Almost everyone I know and care for, everyone I work or worked with, can be traced down the blogging branches back to the 3-4 first monthly meetings I attended. The first freelancing contracts, the best friends, the business partners, the project partners, the life partner. For me it’s not six degrees of Kevin Bacon, it’s 2 degrees of Yulblog. Mariejo, Martine, Ed, Alex, Aaron, Nika, Éric, Bill, Michel, Stéphanie, Steph, Sylvain, Karl, Antoine, Maggie, Philippe, Mike, AJ, Ulka, Alston, and Andrea. And so many others I’m forgetting (sorry).
That meetup, those bloggers, ‘lived’ on an internet that, for me, got its greatest value from them and from the likes of Allen, Jason Kottke, the Trotts, Heather Champ, Derek Powazek, Ben Brown, Paul Ford, Doug Bowman, Anil Dash, Stewart Butterfield, Caterina Fake and many more.
I missed Allen’s writing, I’ll miss even more now. And I miss that web he represented so well and helped create. Rest in peace.
Dean Allen, R.I.P. — Om Malik
Rest in peace, Dean Allen — Jason Kottke
Dean Allen — John Gruber
So true, Patrick. He was a prompt for the best work & the right avenues to pursue. And, as you say, it was an exciting time.