YEARS ago students at a university in the pacific northwest started a unix based bulletin board as a computer science project. with the help of a professor, the university decided to host the bulletin board on their university wide network with the idea that classes could use it for help with homework and various class projects. as these things do, it quickly exploded into a social utility connecting staff, faculty, and students from all over the university community with each other. i've been lucky enough to be on the bulletin board since it's fairly early days (though many people got on a few years earlier than i did). it's a community that honestly has shaped my life, my sense of humor, my sense of connection to others, and has bolstered me in some of the tougher times of my life.
over the years the number of members still willing to connect via a unix model dwindled, but a core group of fucking interesting odd balls remained and have kept in contact with each other from the early 1990's all the way through till now. many of us stay connected via facebook now rather than through the original bulletin board, but even so it is a community deeply committed to each other.
one of the details that i always appreciated about being part of this online world was that the intimacy of the group allowed us all to share important aspects of our personal lives, and from that too to get to know the array of quirky knowledge any of us had in our arsenals. the bulletin board became the quickest go-to spot for finding an answer to any question that might come up through the course of any particular day. honestly, faster than a google search, posting in the unix world would return an insightful response to whatever it was we needed to know, and with more detail, and greater confirmation of what the asker particularly needed guidance on.
in the midst of this online world we got to know each other through mutual irritation, and mutual affection both and yet a long term understanding that each of us mattered to the other.
one of these beloveds is ogden andrew. if you need knowledge about cheese, current events, contemporary politics, IT intricacies, or the most recent celebrity death, ogden andrew is the man --he'll have the information. he's quick too to offer analysis of intellectual concerns people could be suffering under, always willing to contribute to such a conversation.
one of the elements of his personality that i've always admired is his deep commitment to his family. whether they be struggling, celebrating, or just having a regular day, ogden's response is always one of presence, care, and dedication. i've been blessed to hear of the development of both his boys over the years from toddler to teenager--through the huge range of occurrences in his boys' lives he's happily shared with our community what they're up to. his love of family has also shown itself through a profound steadiness with his wife. i have appreciated the subtle and consistent ways they support each other--celebrating each other's grace, and rallying together in challenges too to point out what each has done to move forward together.
those of us that have gotten to meet him in person have consistently talked of his friendly demeanor, and willingness to share (especially share cheese... mmm... cheese...). for myself, i have only gotten to interact with ogden online, but he has been a reliable, and important figure all these not-quite 20 years. he's someone that breathes life into online communities, and helps establish the architecture of its house of friendship.