My friend Jay Cross died this weekend. That's a rough start I know but I didn't want to be cute or clever here. Just not feeling that.
I met Jay years and years ago and just to be clear - for most of the time that I knew Jay, we lived on opposite sides of the country (MD & CA) and my interactions with him were mainly at conferences or online - with the super infrequent visit to his lovely home. That will come across wrong though - Jay interacted so much online, through blogs, video chats, audio blogs and Twitter - that to say "only online" sells short how well Jay understood and embraced the Internet and the Web.
I don't remember if it was the first time I met Jay but early on, he and I were at a conference at Disney. Somehow we ended up hanging out together and I remember being a little star struck that someone of Jay's stature was hanging out with a nobody like me. That was Jay though - infinitely welcoming, friendly and curious. At one of the events during that conference, Jay won a little stuffed turtle. I think I had mentioned that I had a young son at the time and Jay gave it to me for him. I remember coming home and saying "Jay Cross gave this to me for you, so take care of it." 14 years, 3 moves and 2 states later and my son still has the turtle.
Jay has over 32,000 photos up on Flickr. I used to race to conferences early to get what I called the "Jay Cross shot" - the registration lines ready but with no one in them. Jay took pictures of everything and everyone - he always had that little camera with him. I think that really says something about his boundless curiosity and interest in the world.
I also thank and remember Jay for introducing me to some other folks whose work has been really impactful for me. I got a call when I was working at Booz Allen to gather the smartest people I could to talk about blogs and wikis (yes kids, before Web 2.0 and social media). My first and most important call was to Jay. In short order and with Jay recommending it - we had Marcia Conner, Jerry Michalski, Eugene Eric Kim, Clay Shirky and David Weinberger all sitting in a room talking to analysts from the CIA.
The question is always - how do you remember someone like Jay? Well my recommendation is that you first dedicate yourself to being open to people and new experiences and value curiosity always. Take lots of pictures and share them. Then find people who are also curious and work with them and find new ways to do things and never be satisfied by the status quo. Put a dent in the universe. Jay would like that.