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Gary Chapman

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Invites You To Share Your Personal Remembrances

Gary Chapman


An Indelible Mark

Gary was my dissertation adviser. Over the past four and a half years, I took each of his information policy classes. I sat in on his Policy Research Project courses and attended several of his guest lectures and testimonies for government officials. I was his graduate research assistant and I worked with him on Internet and information policy projects. Our book chapter on the evolution of the Freedom of Information Act and the interplay of the freedom of information and the Internet comes out this month. I think one thing that can be said about Gary and his conduct in the classroom is that he was a man full of stories. During a lecture he gave on the anniversary of September 11, he brought a room full of people to tears relating his experiences at ground zero where he served meals to the first responders. And he kept us similarly in awe recounting his experiences helping rebuild in New Orleans after Katrina and organizing the data base for the identities and needs of survivors who came to Austin (ground breaking work in disaster informatics). Service wasn’t a nice concept for Gary, service was something for which you packed up your life and moved heaven and earth to get done. My favorite lecture was one on the future of things. We sat about trying to project where the future of the Internet would take us. We had devised two scenarios, one in which we turned into fat, lazy, cruise ship dwelling blobs, hyper connected to news feeds and television, but not to each other. And one in which we were the ultimate interface between the Internet and the physical. We imagined a world in which we could upload our personalities to the Internet and act through robots when our physical bodies expired. This, of course, led to a discussion of love, sex, robots, and the idea of human continuity that we couldn’t really comprehend. We had our contentious moments. We argued over wikileaks. His perspective arose from his background as a journalist, mine from being a government scientist that deals with sensitive and classified information that has national security implications. We completely disagreed on wikileaks. But that was okay with Gary. What was important to him was the conversation, intelligent deliberation. And he let me explore my passion, even though he might not have always agreed with my exploration methods. We visited a symposium at the Legislature on incorporating interactive Internet technologies into the Texas government. We sat through an hour of senators and representatives telling us how they didn’t even know what Facebook was or twitter or how to leave a comment on a post, or how to use their Blackberries properly and that the business sector was the leader and that we would sit back and wait for them to lead. By the end of the session, I was on fire. I raised my hand to add commentary and proceeded to lecture the lege on how these interactive technologies had amazing potential for government, and that government had to lead because their primary mission is service and not marketing, and how given that this is the state of Texas, technology leader, it was an opportunity to blaze a trail. And, as we left the lege, I was still steaming. And, I think Gary would have had every right to say “Are you crazy, Angie?? What was that?? You don’t lecture the legislature if you want to be invited back.” But he didn’t because Gary wasn’t here to tell you the lesson, Gary was here to help you learn. And he genuinely cared about me as an individual. When my grandmas died five weeks apart, he was one of the few people to come by and really talk with me about the giant hole that kind of loss leaves in your life. He liked my Mom. He told her how proud he was of me. He actually told her that story about the lege and was so generous. He didn’t make me sound half as crazy as I felt. He still owes me advice on all things New Orleans, a place he loved and where he inspired me to go to celebrate the completion of my dissertation. It’s hard to pin Gary down, isn’t it? He was so subtle, so gentle, so generous. He never, ever, ever would let you think that he was here to do anything for you. But, he always made sure that you were never here to go it alone. If you were to ask me to pin him down, I am really not positive that I could. Probably because I didn’t think I would have to, probably because I can’t believe that he is gone. I would tell you that he has made an indelible mark upon my soul, a mark of kindness, of intelligence, of thoughtful deliberation, of meaningful action, of curiosity, of adventure (I mentioned kayaking to him once and he was always trying to get me as hooked as he was), of warmth, of passionate dedication to a cause, and of generosity. And, I wish that he had lived to see the day that we would upload our brains to the Internet so that he could live with us forever.

Remembering Gary

The news of Gary's sudden death came so unexpected that I still find it hard to imagine that he is no longer with us. For a long time Gary has been for me the person of reference of CPSR (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility), and, more recently, I had the privilege to meet Gary and his wife Carol on two ISODARCO summer schools held in Italy that were organised by Gary and Diego Latella. Later, in 2005, we had a wonderful time with Gary and Carol in Austin combining Slow Food and deep discussions on social responsibility issues with a marvellous tour through Texas. There were so many plans for the future, so many ideas, so many things to do. My thoughts are with Carol and all dear family and friends of Gary. I'm sure he will remain a great inspiration for all who knew him and for all who get to know him through what he has left to the future by putting his thoughts on paper. Mieke Massink


Gary and I knew each other through CPSR, but lost touch some time in the nineties. From time to time I thought of looking him up, but put it off. Mistake. I was shocked to see his obituary yesterday. The world has lost a good man, far too soon. Gary was thoughtful, friendly, a good listener and a tireless organizer. My sympathy and best wishes to his family and friends.


He made the world a lot better place, and he was a lot of fun.

Gary Chapman and his big contributions to public service

I had the privilege in 1999, several years after graduating from the LBJ School, of taking the graduate course, "Internet and Public Policy," when Prof. Chapman offered it onsite in the evenings at the state headquarters of the Texas Department of Human Services. It was a remarkable course, taught with depth and humor by a remarkable man with a mission to help others understand and use emerging tools and strategies to accomplish important public purposes. Later that year he spoke to the Austin LBJ School Alumni Association and was featured speaker at first conference of the Texas chapters of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). In 2000, ASPA recognized Prof. Chapman as the Public Administration Professor of the Year, in part because of his demonstrated generosity in sharing his unique expertise in helping others in public service in so many ways to understand the opportunities and risks in new information technology and the importance of taking responsibility for considering and adjusting as needed for the inevitable but unintended advserse impacts on individuals, communities, and society generally. His many contributions since then as researcher, teacher and facilitator of public debate on technology issues have made a big difference in many lives. He was a brilliant, considerate, and persistent champion of common sense use of technology to uphold rather than undermine principles of liberty and justice for all. My condolences to all his family and friends on this great loss, and I hope there is some comfort in reflecting on the huge and lasting positive impact of his inspired life and teaching. Reuben Leslie, LBJ School MPAff 1992

Minnesota CPSR

Having been in CPSR since the early 80s, I appreciate Gary's dedication to this organization. Even today we are still educating the public on Missile Defense -what a waste of the US tax payer's money! Hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been used used for peaceful purposes! I will try all the harder (in Gary's memory) to get the message out! Roger Rydberg Minnesota Chapter Coordinator CPSR

Let's keep CPSR alive!

We should all thank these visionary people, like Gary, that in the '80 were able to question technology and to trigger the new subject of social and ethical responsibility of computer professionals ... The 1987 book "Computers in battle" is still one of the most important in the area ... and in my life of researcher. We should also question ourselves about the fading of CPSR: is there any possibility to avoid this waste of energy, intelligence, wisdom and ethics concentrated in that organization? Today, even more than 30 years ago, we all need a global place for reasoning about and questioning technology!

Gary Chapman: an IT wizard who changed lifes

Gary was a very committed person who had a deep sense of respect, solidarity and duty to service to the others.
It was thus that I knew him, while EU Fellow at LBJ in 2001-2002 and then at the 2002 Trento ISODARCO Summer School on Cyberwar and asymmetrical threats, in August, co-directed by Gary with Diego Latella, where I was also lecturing.
That summer, while off the day's lectures, I got to know him and his lovely wife even better, understanding more the deeply ethical drive of this old-style but very modern Texan gentleman, who had never forgotten his humanity, his curiosity, which had led him to learn quite some Italian, and his love of life.
Gary not only was an acclaimed and very successful instructor at LBJ, but also felt the drive to change the lifes of people in developing countries, always very modestly, without any boasting, just doing.
I, for one, was honoured to know him, and I truly will sorely miss him, as will his many Italian friends.

Remembering Gary

I met Gary the first time in 1985 at a conference that the Union of Scientists for Disarmament (Unione Scienziati Per Il Disarmo - USPID) had organized in Castiglioncello (Leghorn, ITALY), on the risks of SDI for international Security and Society. Since then, as member of CPSR, thanks to Gary, I learned more and more about the role of Computer Scientists in Society and I got in closer and closer connection with him, discovering that besides being an incredibly knowledgeable expert in each and every issue concerning computer ethics and social responsibility he was also a warm and deep man, always ready to help. And he also very much liked to enjoy life! As time went on, we strengthened our friendship and professional relation. I suggested the organizers of ISODARCO (the International School On Disarmament and Research on Conflicts) to invite Gary for lecturing at a course on Technology Transfer, which has been in Candriai (Trento, Italy) in 1998. This was the beginning of another great friendship, that of Gary with ISODARCO. Gary has been lecturing several other times in our courses and in 2000 and 2002 Gary and I organized two full courses on issues like Cyber War, Netwar, Revolution in Military Affairs, and Risks for Civil Liberties. Without any doubt, those were the deepest and most interesting experiences in my professional life, as computer scientist, with an eye open on the role of our profession in Society. I had met my real tutor and we ended up organizing courses together ... Well. We all lost one of the pillars in the area of Practical Computer Ethics and Social Responsibility of Scientists and I've lost one of my Best Friends. We are enormously grateful to having met Gary; his wisdom, humanity and deep thoughts will always remain an important inspiration, for us, and I'm sure, for many others. Our thoughts are now with Carol and the Family. Diego Latella

Please join me in remembering

Please join me in remembering Gary Chapman. Gary's family and friends are collecting photos and memories, and we would love you to contribute. To visit Gary's page, please follow this link:

10 years' memory lasting forever

I took Gary's lesson ten years ago. I can still recall the scene while he was teaching. A soft-spoken person, Gary was endowed with strength, integrity and persistence. It would be some sort of hypocritical to say how great a person was when he passed away. Yet, the spirit Gary carried with always reminds me that I do have studied and worked with a group of great people at the LBJ school, where I had most wonderful time in my life. Sometimes we are inclined to reject a fact that has happened already. Same to me this time. We have to move forward, however, to carry on something that Gary hasn't finished, or something to which we had chosen to commit our lives even before we attended the LBJ. Now I am visioning LBJers working globally to change the world. It never ends. Gary, you won't feel alone in the heaven. Our hearts are with you. Xinhua Zhang MPA.ff 2001 Beijing, China

Thanks Gary

Gary had a vision about how the ICTs can transform the society, how the net can change people. In Portugal he shared his thoughts 3 years ago when I met him. He changed my view about the ICTs and profoundly changed my life making this subject my main study and passion. In 2009, he organized the first International School on Digital Transformations, with his fine humor he said: that’s how I work, first I come alone and then I brought one hundred people to keep working! One seed he planted it became a tree and then a forest, now there are multiple connections around the world discussing the issues of ISDT. Gary was the living network transforming each one of us. He lives through these connections with society, humanity and friendship in the centre. He will be missed… "Saudades" from Portugal. My condolences to Carol.

In Memorium, to a Thoughtful Friend

Working together with Gary at Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, we struggle through our often conflicting views to produce the first book analyzing the role of technology in modern warfare (Computers in Battle: Will They Work?, 1987: Harcourt). This resulted in a foundational friendship, if also long distance and with less frequent contact that each of us would have preferred. I am sure he would agree with me that in addition to your sorrow, continuing to act on the issues of concern (freedom and privacy in the electronic age), are the best memorial. Deep condolences to Carol and his colleagues.

A Forty Year Plus Friendship

Gary used to come to our house for dinner when he and I were still in high school. He was my brother's best friend and greatest rival. They were student leaders, who were always fomenting rebellion against stupid high school rules. I remember visiting them in their apartment in San Francisco in the 70's. They would light their oven at night and then beat the scattering cockroaches with a broom. Gary was always a wonderful writer and speaker, but most of all I will miss his terrific smile and his laugh, and just knowing he was there and I would see him again. He lived life to the fullest and I cannot believe he is gone.

Gary Chapman

Gary was friends in high school with my brother, and had many dinners at our house. He was kind to everyone, funny, intelligent, and just wonderful. He continued that way throughout his life--touching people with humor, grace, and intelligence.

Gary Chapman

During the 1990's I collaborated closely with Gary in promoting more humane, socially oriented and de-militarized U.S. science and technology policies. We met together frequently with government leaders, such as the late George Brown, who at the time chaired the House science committee, and we co-authored testimony for Brown's committee. Gary's death is sadly premature.

Professor Chapman

I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Professor Chapman’s passing. He has been one of my most influential professors and I thoroughly enjoyed his “Digital Transformation of Society” course this fall. He genuinely cared about his students and went out of his way to make sure that our experiences in his course and at the university were enjoyable and memorable. His detailed feedback helped me grow as both a scholar and an individual, and I will miss his wisdom, worldly perspective, and charisma. I only knew Professor Chapman for a mere semester, but after reading others’ remembrances I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to know such an extraordinary and inspiring man. My thoughts go out to his family, friends, and students. He will be greatly missed.

Gary's teaching style provided a safe, enlightening environment

I truly enjoyed Gary's class this summer. His insight regarding the past, present and future of the Internet was amazing to witness. But more importantly, he shared what he knew humbly, making me feel at ease with my lack of high-tech knowledge. I learned a lot, including what a nice person Gary was. He will be missed in so many ways.

A 21st Century Humanist

I had the pleasure of co-teaching a year-long Policy Research Project and working on many research projects with Gary over the past several years. Most recently, he was the architect of our International School of Digital Transformation in Porto, Portugal, which brings faculty and participants together for intensive work around harnessing the power of digital tools for civil society. Gary was the inspiration for the School and the driving force behind its values: participation, transparency, collaboration, and strengthening community. He modeled these for all of us with his unselfishness, his utterly reliable moral compass and his warmth and humanity. His words and actions have touched people around the world, and we are all better off for the gift of his presence. I will miss him dearly.

Gary Chapman and ISODARCO

Upon emerging from a week-long retreat, being greeted by news of Gary's death was quite jarring. During my first year in the PhD program, Gary told me about the International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts and wrote a letter of recommendation so I could attend. As a result of his direction and assistance, ISODARCO allowed me to meet many people in my field at a very early point in my doctoral studies. Thanks for the good start, Gary. I will be sure to finish well, too.

Going through a difficult

Going through a difficult time myself in ISDT in Porto this summer, I was deeply moved by both Gary and his wife's calm wiseness. Will never forget that. Not much more to be said at this moment except for my respect and condolences. Gustavo

Thank you, Gary

We were excited about working with Gary as a partner in our new federal broadband project for the next two years. It just doesn’t seem possible he is gone. Our prayers for Carol in this sad time.

Gary was a wonderful friend for so many years, always ready with any help needed, even if only a kind word and good company to lift sagging spirits. I will miss him so much. The only way I know to try to balance the pain of loss is to also remember and be happy for all the good times, and all the good things, he added to our lives.

Thank you, Gary. We miss you!


I met Gary when I started working at the LBJ school last year. Gary helped me feel at home and useful by introducing me to people with similar interests, generously opening his networks and telling me stories about his experience in Austin and at UT. His courses were so cool and interesting, I wished I were a student again. I started working with him on a project on privacy last summer and he proved to be an incredible catalyst, quietly bringing on board supporters, brokering consensus, keeping us calmly on track, working mostly in the background. Gary, clearly, knew how to get things done. It was a real pleasure and an honor to have been able to get to know him. He left us far too soon. My deepest condolences to his wife and family.


Gary Chapman played a pioneering role in studying and writing about the impact of computers on society, organizing computer professionals to examine these issues, and later working to promote positive outcomes and teach others to continue this work. I was fortunate to meet Gary at an early conference of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and was so inspired by what I learned the people I met that I proceeded to co-found the DC Chapter and serve on CPSR's board of directors (twice!). That organization, which he led during its heyday, has since been eclipsed by numerous larger and better funded groups such as EFF and EPIC, which in different ways inherited its ideas and took them to new levels. The Computers Freedom and Privacy Conference also continues, nineteen years later, to explore the leading edges of the same issues – now under the auspices of the Association of Computing Machinery.

I had few opportunities to work with Gary after he left CPSR, but I continued to follow his work and read his newspaper columns, and I was fortunate enough to reconnect with him on a trip to Austin last year. We started out meeting for drinks at my hotel, but he wouldn't let me off that easily – he then invited me along to meet Carol at a party at the Texas Observer, then they took me to dinner at a great "typical Austin" restaurant. He even sent me off to a night of music down 6th and Red River Streets, armed with several tips on where to go, who to see – the consummate host. I feel blessed that I was able to spend several hours with him catching up, talking politics, computers, music, and food, and also fortunate to meet Carol, who was wonderful.

A major influence, even a hero, he will truly be missed.

Right there for the city

Last winter, I got to meet Gary when he jumped right in to work with the city and community on the Google Fiber to the Home application. He led his students in developing a website with great community-oriented functionality -- on a ridiculously short timeline. He brought such enthusiasm, expertise and passion to the project as it sounds like he did to everything.

Pragmatic visionary

I met Gary at ISDT 2010, and my thoughts about him after a few moments of chatting were: "Here I am, standing next to a visionary person, yet with an acute sense of practicality." It is a great loss. However, his vision will endure through his work as a teacher as he influenced the minds of many students and scholars. Farewell.

A Scholar and Gentleperson

I am saddened and aghast. My thoughts are with his family, and also his students.

A lot to say, more to think

ISDT 2010, in Porto was the place where I said hello to someone that had in his eyes the wiseness and a spirit full of sensibility. This was the picture that I saved from Gary Chapman. Sometimes takes ages to know someone. Other times, in a few conversations, paying attention to the behaviour and the way of thinking we can understand that we are meeting a different person, a high value, someone with whom to learn. The dead it’s not an end. The body it’s just the vehicle where the spirit exercise their sensibility. On earth Gary build social networking, but their work stills, now for doing the spiritual network. Let’s keep the smile and feel the same comfort, when we think on Gary Chapman.

Tools for Conviviality

That's what I think about when I think of Gary - the idea of how ICTs can be used for building community, strengthening social justice and creating democracy. I had the pleasure of being a faculty member at ISDT 2009 and 2010 and had the privilege of meeting with Gary and Carol and knowing them in formal, and informal situations - whether it be the reitoria during presentations where Gary was always able to provoke in his quiet and measured way a response from faculty and students alike, or during visits to Case de Musica or fine meals out with plenty of Vinho Verde - where the conversation was stimulating and enjoyable. Peace, Gary.

ISDT @ Porto

I was extremely saddened to hear of the sudden death of Gary - it came as a terrible shock. Gary will be missed by so many people as such a kind and wise colleague and a reference. Dear Carol, please accept my condolences in this sad phase of your life.