Two nights ago one of the most esteemed Italian Internet experts and pioneers, Marco Zamperini, passed away. With a long career as a CTO and Chief Innovation Officer in technology companies and academa, he was one of the seminal figures that carried on the Web innovation in his country. I never had the chance of meeting or working with him, but I was touched by the number of heartfelt eulogies that filled most social media yesterday, remembering Marco. He was clearly a very nice person well beyond his professional history and charisma. Most people described him as always smiling, witty, and capable of finding something good also in the least favorable situations.
The use of social media in Italy is often confrontational: people challenge each other on pretty much anything, from political views to football, from digital agendas to fashion. It is difficult to find value at the bottom of zillions of conversations whose sole purpose seems to be for somebody to prevail on somebody else in a heated discussion. Yesterday the web was different. Those same people who fill social media with controversy were mourning Marco. It felt like a choir, with different voices offering their memories, creating an unusual sense of warmth that I had never experienced before.
Somebody observed that although Marco was often surrounded by rather controversial individuals, he was always able to find something good in them, something to learn and enrich himself. This was certainly one if his greatest gifts when he was alive.
But today maybe he left us with his greatest gift. Thousands of people stopped quarreling and shouting on the web and spoke with a single voice to remember him. In Italy, something close to a miracle.