Ilya Zhitomirskiy (1989 – 2011)

Spending enough time around technology, it becomes easy to slip into a habit of ascribing a certain volition to the Internet. “The Internet,” we say to each other, “interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” Or, more boldly, “The Internet promotes innovation.” We even ask ourselves more abstractly, “What does technology want?”

But, the “Internet” is not some willful thing in of itself. The Internet is the aggregate of countless acts of human volition at every scale from protocol, to platform, to user. Insofar as “the Internet” speaks to us through anything, it speaks through the words and deeds and values of people, not machines.

The ecosystem of our technology, and the ever shifting arena of freedoms within it, depends on those human choices, and not some magical inherent quality of the devices we use. The only question is: what kind of Internet do we want?

For us, Ilya and his work embodied those choices — more accurately really those values — upon which the Internet frantically draws on in its finest moments. Open. Dynamic. Collaborative.

We mourn the loss of an enormously generous friend, a brilliant collaborator, and an irreplaceable, wonderful force in strengthening the creative life of the web. We’ll miss you.