[posted by Justin Levine]
Cathy Seipp has left us. I only met her briefly 3 or 4 times myself, often at events related to blogging or journalism in Southern California. But the past few days have revealed another aspect of the blogosphere community to me that I hadn’t quite experienced before – that of collective mourning in the electronic form during somebody’s last moments on Earth, but before they pass away. It has been rather strange. It isn’t “strange” in the macabre sense of tawdry voyeurism or a media spectacle of publicly anticipating a death. It seems closer to a collective virtual gathering around the hospital bed in order to say good-bye as the final moments slip away. Obviously the public can’t do that for real, but the blogosphere provides something akin to that.
Can these tools be abused? Certainly. One could easily set up a “death” cam and watch somebody’s final moments in real time in order to tap into the purely voyeuristic impulse – perhaps even charging a fee for the event. But what happened in Cathy’s case seemed very emotionally fitting for someone I knew just enough to care about, but never had the opportunity to become an intimate friend with. If I couldn’t be at the bedside in person, it was still emotionally fulfilling to read the many blog tributes about her in the final days.
Best wishes Cathy. Your memory will live on in the virtual world, and many other realms as well.
— Justin Levine