Safe Travels, Mr. Porter

July 2nd, 2018 by Karen

I don’t recall the first time Wayne Porter and I met. It may have been one of the calls hosted by Shawn. It may have been on one of the myriad of forums from those early halcyon days in our industry, where everything was new and shiny and unfettered. When collectively we were all taking our fledgling steps down this now 20 year old path.

But I do distinctly remember our first meaningful conversation. Somewhere between New York City and Nova Scotia, in 2004, on a weird leatherette couch in what passed for a nightclub, on board the one and only Affiliate Summit Cruise. Sometime after dinner, but before we all gathered around and learned that Brian was an incredibly talented pianist. Some names I’ve forgotten in the mists of half a lifetime of other data, but Carolyn, Kim, Brad, Declan, and Jeff feature prominently on the dance floor of memory. We all danced crazily for a time, likely to something from the 80s, and then I needed to take a break. My youngest at the time was just a year old and my oldest around four, so between chasing them and the jet lag, I was already exhausted. While the others continued to grace the dance floor, we sat and watched and talked.

And talked and talked and talked. First of course about industry stuff, and then about how we first got into it, and then, both delighted to find the other had a science background, we hit that discipline hard. Conversation ranged from sapphire thin film research, to his medical background, firefighting equipment, molybdenum cruicibles, lanthanum hexaboride cathode emitters, and D&D, which isn’t particularly scientific, but when discussing the possibility of magical fireballs, one bends the rules a bit.

We found many points of commonality…we both enjoyed science fiction and fantasy novels, though he was more well read in the former and I the latter at the time, we discussed stuttering and the frustrations we felt as children and how we coped as adults, and laughed ourselves silly with a discussion of Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, which I’m sure puzzled others who joined us during breaks in the dancing.

We also had points of divergence…I am Catholic, he wasn’t religious and was upfront about it. He asked polite, insightful questions, pushing and prodding, but never attacking or hateful. He went down the rabbit hole of botnets and EULAs, privacy and disclosures, long before anyone else was viewing them as a threat and at the time, I was more concerned about fraudulent applications and credit cards. He was a HUGE Quake fan, whereas I played a lot of Warcraft. In the grand scheme of things, these differences are like comparing grains of sand on the beach. Under a microscope, incredibly unique and chemically independent, but held in the palm of your hand, the differences are pretty imperceptible to the eye.

He encouraged me to read more sci-fi (notably Gibson…he was horrified that I had read very little of his work at that point), to start public speaking (which admittedly took me several more years before I took that terrifying first step), and to stop being concerned about what others thought about my hobbies (he was the first professional colleague to know that I was into any of this stuff…heck, half my friends had no idea). It was all very good advice.

Through the years, even though we’ve seen each other very seldom, usually at Affiliate Summit or one of the dinner roasts of friends, we would continue to chat…the occasional flurry on social media, long ICQ chats about Second Life and virtual worlds, bandied latin phrases, and hard core games of Scrabble on whatever platform du-jour we found ourselves on.

Wayne was always one step ahead of everyone on the industry trail (and sometimes several), but he was never unwilling to extend a hand to help someone else. He was very passionate about certain topics (if you’ve ever heard the correlation between tea cups and privacy, you know what I’m talking about) but I never found him unwilling to listen to a different point of view.

In his passing, as an industry, we’ve lost someone who was an industry founder and an unsung guide.

But we’ve lost so much more than that.

We’ve lost someone who showed us collectively how to be a friend, how to face hardship head-on, and how to live life fully.

Goodbye, Wayne. Thank you for always and unrepentantly being you.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei.

“Really it is very simple. Be passionate, be as transparent as you can bear and if you a make a mistake- own up to it. You don’t have to bare your soul, just be a human being and respect the pluralistic nature of being human. We can expect nothing more out of each other.”
Wayne Porter

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