It looks to be true; there has been independent verification (such as it is - I will never know for a fact if the person ever existed in the first place) that Chris McKinstry has indeed committed suicide in his home in Chile.
For those who are not familiar with the back story, CMK was an individual with some fairly insane theories, a researcher of AI and a former operator of a big scientific telescope somewhere in the Andes. He was also a semi-regular contributor to the Joel on Software offtopic forum, a.k.a the circle jerk mentioned on the sidebar.
Initially this space was to be occupied by a long-winded and entirely heartless discussion of the mindlessness of this act. Mark Wieczorek said that CMK knowingly made his death an Internet moment, so I felt no remorse or pangs of conscience for criticizing it. I was going to talk how, as an atheist and a person who knows for an absolute fact that there is no soul and no afterlife, I consider suicide to be an act of unimaginable stupidity; how a lot of my own life was spent in deep anguish, how I wished every day that my existance would cease - and yet I never for a second gave realistic consideration to killing myself.
However, any point I would have made is completely moot now; the McKinstry suicide was indeed an Internet moment, and as such it has not escaped the pitfall of any Internet moment: futility.
In knocking himself off on public Netovision, Chris McKinstry has both succeeded and failed. He succeeded in becoming an Internet personality of minor significance, a candidate for a footnote in the history of the medium; this is an achievement I admire regardless of the means. In my philosophy, prominence is quite good, but simple rememberance is much of the way there. McKinstry failed in achieving his goals of becoming a martyr of the new age, inspiring outcry at the cruelty of a world that chewed up and spit out a simple visionary who believed before anyone else that the mind was a seven-dimensional hypersphere and thought a trajectory on it.
It is now Wednesday night, and McKinstry's moment has passed.
It has been outshone by a development of which it was a direct cause. Because Chris McKinstry's last words, a narrative of his final hours, appeared on the JoS?off board, some rather disturbing attention was drawn to it. This was a cause of considerable concern for our landlord, Joel Spolsky, who decided enough was enough and had us evicted.
?off was on thin ice to begin with. It was founded just after the US presidential elections of 2004, as an outlet for all discussions on the matter so that they would not crowd the main JoS forum. It was then driven ever deeper into the bowels of joelonsoftware.com, hidden away from the world in an ice-white corner of cyberspace where nobody could hear you scream. The defining characteristic of ?off was that it was uncensored; it did have moderators who filtered out spam and an occasional outburst of keyboard Tourette's, but no topic was taboo, and no opinion too outrageous. On more than one occasion it generated considerable insight.
Then again, I can see how Joel would not want to be associated with us.
The shattered remnants of the community are regrouping on Ectopia, a backup board prepared some time ago by one of the regulars for just such an occasion. It looks like FCE all over again, and the next few weeks will be critical. However, even now the predominant topic of discussion in this social group, one directly involved in something so tragic as the loss of a human life, is how much Joel sucks for kicking us out and what Simon Lucy needs to do to make Ectopia inhabitable.
Like I said, an Internet moment.