Monday 24 May 2010

Acknowledgement (for Paul Reynolds)

Paul Reynolds - advocate, champion, gadfly, orator, pot-stirrer, asker of hard questions, master story-teller - died yesterday.

Many others will be putting together tributes over the coming days; Russell Brown (and see the discussion), Graham Beattie, Katherine Greenhill and Don Christie have all already posted.

As people are noting, as well as being a general advocate for the glories of the web - in particular as a commentator on Radio New Zealand and in other forums - Paul has been a special friend to New Zealand's libraries, archives, galleries and museums. Through McGovern Online he and partner Helen have worked professionally with many organisations, and Paul has criss-crossed the country delivering workshops and lectures, urging us all to open up and embrace the world through the web.

I've got to know Paul over the past few years of working on the web at the National Library, most closely in terms of working with him on the annual National Digital Forum conference, and most recently on joining the NDF Board, of which he is also a member. We've certainly locked horns at times - my practical, pragmatic approach running up against his visionary, hell for leather, shoulda-happened-yesterday stance. But Paul made me realise that every endeavour needs a range of people behind it, and every organisation needs someone to push it forward.

It's comforting to reflect on a miserable day like today just how deeply Paul's spirit is embedded in the thoughts and actions of those who work in New Zealand's cultural institutions, particularly in the technology, digital and web arms. I expect 'What Would Paul Say?' will become a well-worn refrain in gatherings where we're trying to thrash out the best ways to not only get New Zealand's culture online, but to get more people into New Zealand's culture.

"I don't know what the story is", he roared in the last meeting I attended with him. "You need to tell me a story!" So I told him a story; a story about dusty books on dark shelves that were full of treasure and wonder, but languishing unknown, which - with a little money and a little effort and a little good will - we could rescue, and release out into the world where they could become useful and marvellous again. And he said thank you, and threw himself behind the idea. So that's what I'll remember, and take into the world with me - the need to tell stories, to excite people, to bring power to your ideas.


Robyn said...

Somehow - and I'm a little bothered by this - the existence of Paul Reynolds almost totally passed me by. I feel like I missed out on something - someone - amazing.

But today I've been reading all the tributes that people have been writing about Paul, and not only is it filling in the gaps for me, creating a picture of a good person, but I'm now feeling a bit of the sense of loss that others have been experiencing.

And I've also realised that he's someone who has made such a great impact on so many people, that his legacy will continue with a fierce energy that will keep changing, keep improving internet in New Zealand for all.

Unknown said...

very nicely put, thank you for your thoughts and insights - we will miss Paul.

Sue's blog said...

I have avoided commenting today - the feelings of loss somewhat raw. But Courtney your words are so true - he wanted much and he wanted us to get there NOW. Such a kind and generous person - so supportive - very special. It is clear from the many comments he touched many many lives and made a huge contribution.


Sarah Eades said...

Well put! I was at a loss for words when I found out yesterday. I love the idea of "What would Paul say?" i have already been thinking this way!

We will be thinking of you Paul.