Incredibly sad news re: Gary Chapman, Internet pioneer

Gary Chapman, a senior lecturer at the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs who was an expert in the field of Internet and technology policy, died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack while on a kayaking trip in Guatemala.

Gary was the director of the LBJ School’s 21st Century Project. He also was a prolific writer, authoring articles on technology and society for publications that include The New York Times and The Washington Post, and was a general editorial columnist for the Austin American-Statesman.

I am having such a hard time writing the word was about Gary. Gary was my friend. In my opinion, Gary never got his due regarding his pioneering contributions to the study of the Internet and the development of our understanding for the Internet’s potential to communicate and engage. All those hip things we say now about the benefits of online social networking and cloud computing and whatever else is in vogue to say now, Gary was saying many years ago about the potential of the Internet.

My former boss, Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg, broke the news to me just now, and among the many things she said was this: He was absolutely one of my favorite people here at LBJ. I so understand that sentiment. Gary was my immediate friend and colleague when I moved to Austin — he made me feel immediately welcomed. I could not count how many people I’ve referred to him in some way, and how many people and resources he has sent my way. He was a huge supporter of my work regarding online volunteering. I just reconnected with him a few months ago, and I remember thinking, Gary’s Facebook posts are always worth reading.

From what I understand, Gary was on a dream vacation. He had been taking kayaking lessons from a champion kayaker in preparation for this trip.

I am guessing that the LBJ School web site will have information on funeral arrangements and suggestions for expressions of sympathy in terms of donations. I can’t get on the web site right now.

Shocking, sad news…. many tears to shed…

 

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