There have been such moving tributes to Dan Markel posted online that I wondered what I could add that hasn’t already been said about him. I didn’t know Dan as closely as many others, but I was fortunate to get to know him back in 2005. He was, as so many have said, one with a genuine passion for ideas. Within the first few minutes of meeting him, Dan had already invited me to write some guest posts on his new blog, PrawfsBlawg. I barely knew him, but he was already cajoling me to blog as if he had known me for years.
I took him up on his offer. As I began blogging on his site, he kept on encouraging me and sharing ideas with me. “What do you think about this?” “What do you think about that?” “You should write about this.” Dan never eased in to anything, he didn’t gradually build speed. You met him, and you’d find yourself instantly on a moving train.
I really loved blogging and stuck around PrawfsBlawg for quite a while before moving here to Concurring Opinions. I thus owe my entry into the blogosphere to Dan. Through Dan, and the people he brought to PrawfsBlawg, I met quite a lot of friends along the way. When I think of the great people that Dan brought into my life — either directly or indirectly — it is quite an amazing list.
Dan had an intensity about nearly everything, especially ideas. Typically, such intensity can push others away, but Dan’s intensity was paired with an exuberance and warmth. I was not as closely in touch with Dan in recent years. But whenever I saw Dan, he had a way of making me feel like we had been friends forever without any gaps. And it was genuine — Dan really cared about people.
One of the refrains from the tributes to Dan is that he worked tirelessly to build a community. His achievement here is something that is worth underscoring because it is so extraordinary. The community Dan fostered was not merely a gathering of people. It existed not just in meetings but in cyberspace too. It encompassed junior law professors and senior ones. It extended to scholars in a multitude of fields. Dan’s community was one of friendship as well as one of ideas. He was serious about academic engagement.
And what he created grew exponentially. Our blog spun off of PrawfsBlawg, and other blogs have spun off of our blog. Many blogs about law owe their origin in some way to Dan. Many people were brought together because of Dan, spawning numerous co-authored works and lasting friendships.
The amount of friendships, collaborations, discussions, ideas, and events that Dan played a role in creating is staggering. Dan created more than just a community — he created a world.