If you’ve paid any attention to ABC News or Internet videos, you’ve no doubt met Randy Pausch, the Carnegie-Mellon professor who delivered his “Last Lecture” on September 18, 2007 to an auditorium full of his friends, students and colleagues and, inadvertently, to the rest of the world, via the WorldWide Web.

Here’s a link to the video of his lecture:  Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

Randy begins the video by explaining that he has pancreatic cancer and has 3-6 months of good health left.  He goes on to share the stories of his life and work.  The lecture was turned into a bestselling book in April 2008.

Randy died last Friday, July 25, 2008.  He was 47.

How wide was his reach?  For starters, Google added a memorial to their main search page for Randy:

google-homepage-in-memoriam-randy-pausch by TrendsSpotting.

Wired has a fascinating story about the reaction to his death.  The writer ruminates on what the collective mourning means for the future of the Internet and, interestingly enough, death itself.  Here’s a sample:

The strength of the internet communities’ reaction to the medium’s most famous death-defying cancer patient shows how this series of tubes has come of age, not just as a market or a means of distribution, but as a series of linked communities, significant enough to require affirmations in the face of death.

Comments, then, are flowers and wreaths, candles, pictures and prayers, and the Pausch’s doorstep is located precisely at any address at which the web’s spiders can find their name.

It reminds me of why I write this blog and how important the Internet has become to me and many people like me.

The Internet (not just the computer) has changed my life.  I sell my product online, I talk to most of my friends via email, I use Skype to call my consulting clients and record the sessions.

Even more, I haven’t cracked a phone book or encyclopedia in over a year.  My first point of reference for any subject, product search or phone number is Google.

I’m 33 years old.  In the coming years, my generation will be making the important decisions for our parents, including how to memorialize them at their death and which funeral home to use, if any.

Becoming familiar with the Internet and the communities it continues to create is no longer a luxury. 

This afternoon, I’ll be participating in a teleseminar titled Funeral Blogging 101.  It’s a free hour-long session with blogging funeral director Brian Hanner, me and Funeral Futurist Robin Heppell.  Click the link and join us!