Randy Pausch never met a brick wall he didn’t like. The Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science who inspired his audience -and in this digital age, millions of those who listened to him and watched him and followed his blog — died yesterday.
Pausch came to be known as a fearless fighter against pancreatic cancer. His ‘Last Lecture‘ delivered 10 months ago is now in the public domain. It became a best seller, and is being translated into Chinese. He once said the lecture was never meant for the public.
Pausch however went ‘public’ with his blog about his fight with what he knew was a terminal illness, and was constantly upbeat (“I’ve still got gas in the tank”) about his condition:
“I’m recovering much faster this time from the congestive heart failure (practice makes perfect, I guess). I’m still hideously fatigued, but today I was out of bed most of the day.”
He used it to communicate his ongoing story with his wider audience, commenting on things like a great design of a prescription medicine bottle, the death of Dith Pran (who also succomed to pancreatic cancer) and the media frenzy around his book.
Diane Sawyer is running a special tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 10pm on ABC. People who know what I’m really like will doubtless be throwing tomatoes at the screen ; -)
Yesterday, when the sad news came, Google did something it probably has not done for anyone before. It ran a small line under its usually clean search page with In Memoriam: Randy Pausch [1960 -2008], linking to the YouTube video of Last Lecture that’s been viewed over 3.9 million times.
The brick wall reference is from a metaphor he often used about the importance of facing an unsurmountable problem, and what it teaches us.