Vale Scott Young

Photograph of Scott Young

I’ve just had the most amazing conversation about the man in the photograph. C Scott Young was, according to Mark Pesce, “the very, very first VRML designer. What he did — with no tools and for (literally) no money — changed the world.” And Mark should know, because he invented VRML.

Alas, Scott died a few days ago after a long, long battle with diabetes-related illnesses. He doesn’t have his own Wikipedia entry yet, but you can get hints of his life in Mark’s personal blog post and the memorial site.

Tonight’s conversation was remarkable because it led me to re-read a somewhat influential Wired article from 1995, Technopagans: May the astral plane be reborn in cyberspace. When that article hit the streets I’d just moved to Sydney in the first boom. Mark Pesce was a minor superstar in the Internet firmament for inventing leading-edge virtual reality technology — he was, almost literally, creating the world of William Gibson‘s Neuromancer.

That article combined what I knew of Mark’s technical work with religious and spiritual ideas which were at least somewhat related to my own. I remember thinking, “I’d very much like to meet this man one day.” That’s why I was so well pleased when I finally did meet him last December.

Mark, I am truly sad that you’ve lost a good friend — especially since there was so much complex news for you this week. As you say, “Remembering is the only gift we living can give those gone before us.”