Brian Shields, prominent in two Robert Anton Wilson groups on the Internet.
Brian Shields has died, age 53. He was a well regarded digital journalist, a heavy metal fan, a presence on the Internet and on Facebook and also, the reason I mention him here, prominent in two Robert Anton Wilson groups on the Internet.
He was heavily involved in an important RAW discussion group on the Internet, alt.fan.rawilson, on Usenet. (If you don't know what Usenet is, you are probably a young person.) I don't know if Brian founded the group, but he was certainly an important presence there.
There's little doubt that he was largely responsible for creating Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook and for maintaining it. As I noted at the time, the idea for creating it in 2012 came from Brian.
Dan Clore created Robert Anton Wilson Fans on Facebook, but the "About" section says, "I (Dan Clore) created this group at the suggestion of Brian Shields, who noted that alt.fan.rawilson had become rather moribund (along with the rest of Usenet)." In addition, a posting from Dan in the group says that Brian took care of most of the ownership duties for the group, such as sorting through membership requests to weed out spam.
Brian was digital manager for KRON 4, a San Francisco TV station. Some excerpts from the obituary posted at the TV station's website: "In his ten years as digital manager and editor at KRON, Shields’ cutting-edge multimedia reporting helped build KRON4.com into one of the most prominent news sites in the Bay Area. He succeeded in producing interactive web stories and breaking news with speed and accuracy. 'He was instrumental in making KRON4.com the great site that it is today,' said Ashley Messina, general manager at KRON."
"Outside of the newsroom, Shields was an ardent fan of the Oakland A’s but an even bigger fan heavy metal music. He had no formal musical training but was well versed in the genre’s techniques and composition."
"He was recently named weekend editor at the Heavy Blog Is Heavy, a blog featuring metal news, reviews, and interviews. His work was widely popular with followers and musicians; he often hosted bands at his home whenever their tour stopped in the Bay Area."
If you like, you can check out Brian's Facebook page. Here are the two favorite quotes he posted in his Facebook section:
"Think for Yourself, Question Authority" - Timothy Leary
"The Constitution admittedly has its defects and its blemishes but it seems a hell of a lot better than the system we have now." - Robert Anton Wilson
Update: Perhaps he would have been amused I Tweeted the bad news to my 523 followers on Twitter.
Update II: Michael Johnson, who was the founder of the RAW Usenet group (see the comments), sent out an email about his friend Brian. "He was a very sweet, thoughtful, and interesting man," Michael writes.
After talking about hanging out with Brian to listen to music and tour the KRON newsroom, Michael concludes, " Brian was really smart. He was also a gnostic. He rarely ever said anything negative about anyone, except politicians. He'd let fledgling metal bands stay at his pad for free in Sausalito. What a sweet guy."