Guy Kewney RIP

I want simply to express how what a huge loss to the world the death early this morning (Thursday 8 April 2010) of Guy Kewney is. He died aged just 63.

He was the first technology journalist. He started in the mid-1970s as a result of which he got to know all the big names when they were still speaking to journalists. Alan Sugar. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. And Douglas Adams for good measure.

Guy’s approach never wavered, and was born out of his fierce intelligence, a small smattering of humility, intense curiosity and deep loyalty to his readers. He’d ask the right question in a terribly polite way – and it got results. The IT exec would quaver and then blurt out what they didn’t want to say – or they’d give the game away by clamming up.

I worked with him for almost 15 years on PCW and PC Magazine and he was always the same. My job was, more often than not, to extract and edit his copy. His copy was incisive, insightful and idiosyncratic – and invariably, horribly late. But what you got was Guy’s voice, every time, no kow-towing to corporate or magazine style. It was sometimes infuriating – but he was right to do that, and readers loved him for it.

More entertaining was the Kewney Chaos Field (it acquired several names over the years) which resulted in perfectly good pieces of technology, often new, pre-released hardware or software, turning into door-stops as soon as they got within 10 feet of the man. How come? No-one ever figured out how he managed to break stuff that no-one ever did.

As for his expenses: managing them drove one individual to leave the country….but more importantly, he was an inspiration to two generations of journalists and PR flacks over the decades of his working life.

I didn’t speak to him as much over the last years of his life as I did when I sat across from him in the PC Magazine office for almost ten years. But I’m glad I went to see him just a week before his death. He was weak physically but his brain was undimmed, and he was perfectly relaxed and accepting of what was about to happen. He knew he was soon to die of the cancer that started in his bowels then ate away the rest of him. But the rational man that he was took it in his stride.

I only hope I can leave this world as gracefully. Guy: you are missed.

His final blog is here and there’s a nice obit from Iain Thomson here.