People of Second Life: Cyrus Hush (2006-2016) aka Matthew Poole (1960-2016)

It is never late to learn about the people who have been practically shaping particular communities in Second Life. Better late than never, but it is important to learn about them, to know what they have accomplished and discovered, to know where to take from, now that they are gone. Isn’t it curious that people can be gone even from the world where everybody is supposedly forever young and immortal?

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The memorial service for Cyrus Hush, known as Matthew Poole in the physical world, has gathered more than forty people at the VSTE island – from those who had a pleasure to know him personally, to those who remembers him taking a group of virtual explorers to their places, to those who had learned about him and his contribution too late, but wished to learn some more about what kind of individual he was. I belong to the latter group. I had not happened to meet him in person, real or digital. A good friend of mine and a great friend of Cyrus Hush, Dae Miami, another educator of Second Life, has presented Cyrus Hush to me as one extraordinary individual, inspiring me to come to the service and learn as much as I can about him. All I can operate with is the memories of those who had known him personally, memories that had been shared at the service. But that alone was enough for me to appreciate his input in exploring educational opportunities in digital worlds.

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And people kept on arriving

So I felt the need to share with you readers that little something I have managed to learn about Cyrus Hush.

Cyrus was an explorer at heart, and it appears that he had the power of turning people around him into explorers – curious, adventurous, standing strong before the ever-changing environment of the virtual worlds – like himself. Those presenting at the service were fondly remembering the ISTE Tours and Virtual Pioneer Tours to all kinds of fantastic locations, from historical environments to interstellar expeditions in Second Life. He could not stay at one place when there was a huge Grid, waiting to be explored by him and his group of fellow adventurers. He felt the potential of Second Life, the creative environment it fosters, and he kept exploring it and taking advantage of his discoveries to the fullest.

Virtual Education Journal (VEJ) had him as a columnist since the very first issue in 2011. Cyrus Hush had his own column, named, of course, “Explorations”, where he had been sharing the highlights of his explorations with the readers. Roxie Neiro, the editor of VEJ, remembered him for his fun-loving sense of humour, his great ideas, and the wonderful friendship they had been sharing.

The line between the digital and the physical worlds is extremely fine. So it should come as no surprise that there have been people who had communicated with him outside of Second Life. Unfortunately, true appreciation of his work comes from knowing first hand what virtual worlds are and how powerful they are – therefore, while Cyrus has connected people from all the remote locations of the United States, and even outside, there were only a handful of educators in Matthew Poole’s real life who took interest in what he had been doing. Dae Miami remembered that when he was giving a presentation at the VSTE day on the topic of Second Life (in the physical world), only 6 people attended his presentation in the physical world, but 29 showed up in Second Life. One of these six people was Matt Poole himself, that is when the two of them met for the first time in real life. After referring to each other out of habit by their Second Life names, Cyrus and Dae, Dr. Miami has realized that the two personalities, the physical and the digital ones, can merge together. The example is this memorial service. The job Cyrus has done for Second Life, while done in the digital world, has been impacting the residents in the very real way, and the service, while held in the digital world, is just as powerful as the one that took place in the physical world, if not more powerful – because people from all over the world have this opportunity to get together at one place to celebrate life of this truly remarkable man.

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The permanent memorial to Cyrus Hush being lit by the light of more than 40 candles

The power of the virtual worlds will probably never be appreciated enough, and best we can do is to reveal and put in use as much of it as we can. Cyrus had been doing exactly that, and the results of his discoveries will live on – in VEJ articles, in the destination hub he has put together at the VSTE island, and in the experience the fellow travelers had obtained during the field trips with him. Now it is up to us to take it from there, bring that adventurous explorer out, and continue on unraveling the mysteries of the virtual worlds and harnessing their power. We have had Cyrus Hush to show us how it is done.

I have intentionally left out a lot of details about his work in other digital worlds as well as the details about his real life to keep this article focused on Cyrus Hush’s contribution to the metaverses. Otherwise, this article would be twice longer. More about his real life can be found in this obituary, and one can learn more about his work overall by watching the videos at his YouTube channel.

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