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Randy Pausch

interactions article about Randy Pausch

My paper copy of interactions November / December 2008 arrived on Saturday. (The online copy was available last week, just never got a chance to check it out.) Included is an article I co-wrote with Fred Sampson:

Some of the back story. I was asked to write a review of the Randy Pausch story and what it means for user experience professionals. Inspired by Randy: "How do we, as a user experience community, make the world a better place?" But I could not write a decent article: I was too caught up in the emotional aspects (and this was before he died). My blabbering devolved into an article about my inability to write a decent article. Fred stepped in and wrote the core of the new article and used bits and pieces of my work.

So hopefully the article provides value, given its unusual origins. And difficult topic. Writing is hard for me, and this was the hardest thing I ever tried to write. Thanks to Fred for salvaging it.

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Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch died yesterday. His pages at CMU (such as his update page) have been hard to access because of the traffic, so let me summarize in case you still cannot get to them.

July 25th, 2008: Randy died this morning of complications from pancreatic cancer.

July 24th, 2008: The cancer is progressing. A biopsy last week revealed that the cancer has progresed further than we had thought from recent PETscans. Since last week, Randy has also taken a step down and is much sicker than he had been. He's now enrolled in hospice. He's no longer able to post here so I'm a friend posting on his behalf because we know that many folks are watching this space for updates.

I personally found the CMU article An Enduring Legacy the best single thing to read if you are not familiar with Randy's life. Let me extract one paragraph:

He is survived by his wife, Jai, and three children: Chloe, Dylan and Logan. The family requests that donations on his behalf be directed to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or to Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund, which the university will use primarily to support continued work on the Alice project.

Donating money is one way to show you care. In this case, "living life the Randy Pausch way" is also a pretty nice thing to do.

Over time, I know we will see some very fitting tributes to Randy from his professional colleagues. So far I have seen:

  • Whitney Hess, one of his students
  • David Armano, who has already folded one of Randy's stories into his user experience presentations

Last week, I submitted the first draft of an article to interactions about the Randy Pausch story. It was by far the hardest thing I had ever tried to write. I cannot tell yet if the next draft will be easier or harder.

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