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[liberationtech] Memorial service for Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of the start-up social network Diaspora*
companys at stanford.edu
Sat Nov 19 08:41:42 PST 2011
Memorial service for Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of the start-up social
[image: ilya Zhitomirskiy -
ilya Zhitomirskiy - 1989-2011
Tonight I attended a public memorial service in San Francisco, California
USA for Ilya Zhitomirskiy <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilya_Zhitomirskiy>,
co-founder of the start-up social network
The service was held at McAvoy O’Hara mortuary <http://www.mcavoyohara.com/> at
4545 Geary Boulevard. I took the picture below of McAvoy O’Hara as I was
Ilya Zhitomirskiy died Saturday, November 12,
his home in San Francisco. The preceding link is to his lengthy obituary in
the New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/> newspaper, a testamant
to Zhitomirskiy’s influence. Such coverage is remarkable for someone whose
idea that made them famous has not officially launched yet. Such coverage
is remarkable for someone just 22 years old at their passing.
I met Zhitomirskiy only once, and I don’t remember the meeting except in
the vaguest sense. My friendMatthew
me to Zhitomirskiy at an office warming party for
which I wrote about
the time. Wise reminded me two days ago at his Foods
that he had introduced me. I recall that Wise had mentioned Diaspora* at
the CloudFlare party. I had heard of
then, but I didn’t appreciate the significance of meeting one of the
co-founders because I wasn’t aware how much attention the project had
With that introduction you might wonder why I went to the man’s memorial
service. On a group hike some weeks back I had a long and interesting
conversation with Bobby Fishkin <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reframe_It>.
Fishkin was a good friend of Zhitomirskiy, and yesterday Fishkin sent out a
broadcast email to his connections inviting them to attend Zhitomirskiy’s
memorial, which was described as ‘open to all.’ Fishkin can write a moving
email, and his text was so descriptive and colorful that I decided to
attend. In part, Fishkin wrote:
“He was a visionary and revolutionary. He approached the world out of love
and then used a profoundly gifted analytical mind to approach what could be
done based on that love to circumvent all the forces of the world that
would otherwise get between us and those we love. He founded Diaspora to
achieve this. But more than this, he sought solutions to global challenges
and gave us all further confidence to speak our truth.”
How could I not attend the memorial after an introduction so uplifting?
I am glad that I did attend, as this was the most moving and thought
provoking memorial I have yet attended.
It made me cry many times and I wasn’t even Zhitomirskiy’s friend.
Over 100 of Zhitomirskiy’s friends were in the room, and I estimate 20 of
them came to the podium to share their memories. I feel like I learned the
essence of who Ilya Zhitomirskiy was in the course of this memorial. I wish
I had gotten to know him better, as he seemed like a remarkable thinker.
A recurring theme his friends recounted was that Zhitomirskiy kept
extensive to-do lists on Post-It
how to change and improve the world. He collected these notes on one of
those skewers pointing in the air that restaurants stick their filled
receipts upon. These notes and lists apparantly are so profound that one of
his friends collected them and made a website dedicated to just
displaying Zhitomirskiy’s to-do lists.
Zhitomirskiy talked of slaying metaphorical dragons frequently, I learned.
He dreamed of traveling the world as a public speaker, and longed for a way
to have such travel and talking paid for. I have that in common with him…
He talked too much, but in a way that mesmerized his friends. One of his
most ardent friends, Elizabeth (I didn’t learn her last name, and it seemed
the wrong place to ask), an instructor at Stanford
described passionately how she could stay up until 5am talking
with Zhitomirskiy, and that such conversations seemed to just fly by they
were so engrossing. I got the distinct impression that Elizabeth is a very
smart woman, and she looked to be 10 years older than Zhitomirskiy. He must
have been quite an impressive guy to keep her attention until nearly
His friends over and over promised Zhitomirskiy that they would work hard
in life to help finish his to-do list. They said Zhitomirskiy lived by a
code where he advised keeping good company and making outrageous demands of
them. He was known for his epic (sic) parties, and for his intense drive to
introduce people to each other at said parties. He even started a website
themed around these parties, but I couldn’t find a working site at the
domain name mentioned, epicparty.com or epicparties.com.
Zhitomirskiy’s passing brought so many of those in attendance to tears.
They clearly and dramatically loved him. His friends and family I hope will
take tremendous comfort that Ilya Zhitomirskiy so profoundly touched so
many impressive people. The whole room seemed to be filled with impressive
and thoughtful people. One Asian woman who spoke at the podium had only
known Zhitomirskiy for a month, yet her remarks were insightful and lovely.
I meant to tell her so after, but she was engrossed in a conversation and I
didn’t want to interrupt her.
It’s so sad when a bright light goes out too soon. I reflect on my own life
at times like these. I pledge to redouble my efforts to help others and
bring more happiness and good to the world. Thank you Ilya Zhitomirskiy for
the inspiration you gave me to write about you and reflect on your short
yet meaningful life.
I predict your influence Ilya Zhitomirskiywill remain upon the globe for
many moons. May you rest in peace.
[image: McAvoy O'Hara funeral home, 4545 Geary Blvd San Francisco, CA
94118 - November 18, 2011, 7:55PM
McAvoy O'Hara funeral home, 4545 Geary Blvd San Francisco, CA 94118 -
November 18, 2011, 7:55PM PT
PS – I particularly invite Zhitomirskiy’s friends to introduce themselves
to me by sending me a message or friending me on Facebook
I’d like to learn more about your friend, and I’d like to know you as well,
as it appears he kept quite good company from what I saw this evening.
Written by Kevin Warnock
November 18th, 2011 at 10:14 pm
Posted in Friends <http://kevinwarnock.com/category/friends/>
Tagged with Bobby Fishkin <http://kevinwarnock.com/tag/bobby-fishkin/>,
, Ilya Zhitomirskiy <http://kevinwarnock.com/tag/ilya-zhitomirskiy/>, Matt
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