The open internet lost one of its unsung heroes this week, with the passing of David Vyorst, who served as Executive Director of the Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Society and as co-chair of the Internet Governance Forum USA.
David wasn’t well known outside of certain geek circles, but his impact as a fighter for free speech, online privacy, and democratic governance was immeasurable. The thousands of people who assisted, attended and presented at the events he organized over the past decade include virtually every major thinker, builder, policymaker, journalist, entrepreneur, investor, and troublemaker working on internet issues in the Americas, and many from elsewhere around the planet, as well. David not only brought them all together, but helped them find common ground, and provided a platform for them to build, share and amplify an agenda for a more connected, humane, and just world.
David’s passion for democratic media was rooted in his experience as a documentary filmmaker, which in turn was based on his personal experiences growing up Jewish in New York City. His film “The First Basket”, which explored the surprisingly central role of Jewish athletes in the rise of basketball and the NBA, received a lot of positive critical attention when it was released in 2008.
In person, David was like a puppy dog, and his youthful exuberance and energy belied his 56 years. Whether speaking at a podium in front of a thousand internet policy wonks or crammed behind a table at his favorite DC haunt, Politics and Prose bookstore and café, he was always brimming with new ideas, always hot to discuss the latest news and technological developments, always game to wax poetic or philosophical at a moment’s notice. Read the rest