Writing this post is hard, because the emotions are still fresh and very raw. In so many ways, I feel like I was only just beginning to know Vittorio Luigi Bertocci.
Of course, we all feel like we “know” him, because he has always been a larger-than-life character operating at the very forefront of our industry, driving the development of some of the most important of our industry standards efforts, and leading the effort to educate technologists everywhere through his conference talks and educational videos, blogs, and articles. His enthusiasm, humor, and depth of knowledge would make his talks on even the driest of topics engaging and effective. He was so incredibly open on social media, sharing everything from his travel experiences, to his experiments in health data tracking, to his misadventures in Starbucks naming. He was always willing to engage in conversation with anyone and everyone on a wide variety of topics – on identity, on books and science fiction, on philosophy. And he was not shy about sharing his opinions. But more than anything, he was always ready to help someone breaking into our complex and confusing world of identity. He would often say that it was driven by his narcissism. But even if that were true, at the core of it was a desire to make sure we were all working towards making identity better.
Yes, we have all felt like we “know” him. Who else in identity has an anime character? Who else but him could pull off literally stopping mid sentence during a conference talk to pose for the photographer? And that hair!
But it was only in these last few months, as he learnt about and tried to battle the disease that took him away from us, did I get to know just how much the public persona was not a facade. He reached out and connected with many of us, with the kind of honesty, openness, love, and vulnerability that I do not think I would ever be capable of. And in doing so, he did what he always did best – he taught a bunch of us so much about ourselves, about each other, and brought us together in a way that would have been damn near impossible if it weren’t for him.
We have all been robbed, because Vittorio has been taken from us way, way too soon. But we have also been given a gift, one that goes way beyond Vittorio’s contributions to the field of digital identity that in no small measure have enabled all of us to make a living. The memories that live in our hearts, the lessons on what it means to be one of the identirati, and the passion for life itself that he exemplified, and that I now feel compelled to try and emulate – this will be his legacy, for me at least.
Love you Vittorio. Forever.