Today, @heaven’s collection of human voices trying to articulate their joy and pain as voices brings a thrill of optimism for the future of online life. There’s a wince of sadness, too, though, in knowing how weakly that potential has been borne out in our present. At a time when many people share condolences by giving a thumbs-up to items of tragic news, or tweeting seven-word sympathy, it’s heartbreaking to read the vivid online confidences that carried Mandel to his grave. He was dying, but the promise of the social Web was green, uncharted, and alive.

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