I was shocked today to learn that Alan Kotok passed away. I knew Alan a bit from my work with the W3C. I only knew his latest accomplishments, like running W3C operations, including all web sites, repositories, member administration interfaces, and such.
So I can’t help but feel like a petty idiot. A couple of weeks ago, I complained rather strongly (in private) about the W3C web membership interface, which had been particular annoying for some reason. Thus, my last email exchange with Alan was a complaint, which he answered calmly, respectfully, and completely, even though I’d clearly let my frustration get the best of me.
I’m sure Alan quickly forgot this little incident. But I wish my last email to him had not been so petty. I wish I’d taken the time to make those small compliments that, too often, we forget to make. That he did an extraordinary job maintaining the complex W3C architecture, that he was always helpful and always prompt. That in the few short interactions I had with him, I could tell that he was an incredibly nice man.
(More about Alan on the W3C public memoria thread.)