Arthur C Clarke autographing all the way to the Great Beyond….?

Sir Arthur C Clarke’s death on 19 March 2008 inspired a tremendous amount of coverage and commentary in print, broadcast and web media outlets.

Among all these, one of the wittiest and funniest was this cartoon by Gihan de Chickera, appearing in Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka, on 20 March 2008.

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Gihan said it with a brilliant economy of words that Sir Arthur would surely have approved. In fact, Sir Arthur was a regular reader of the Daily Mirror (Colombo) right up to his death.

As someone who was part of Sir Arthur’s personal office for two decades, I can confirm how willingly and gladly he accommodated requests for autographs. If anyone bought a book of his, that was reason enough to sign it, the late author used to say.

He was aware that not all requests for signatures and book autographs were from genuine personal collectors. Some of them ended up being auctioned on eBay and other online trading platforms. That didn’t dampen Sir Arthur’s willingness.

In fact, he used to joke about it all, saying: “I have this vision that one day in the future, there’s an auction where a rare un-autographed Arthur Clarke book sells for an outrageous price!”

Purists might point out to our cartoonist that there’s a certain incongruity of Arthur C Clarke turning up in Heaven. He didn’t believe in an after-life of any kind – but was famously quoted as saying ‘I don’t believe in God, but I’m very interested in meeting Her!

Ah, to be a fly on the Heavenly walls when that encounter happens…

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TVE Asia Pacific says Thank You to Sir Arthur C Clarke

In his 1992 book How the World Was One, Sir Arthur C Clarke described a dream: one day in the near future, CNN founder (and then owner) Ted Turner is offered the post of World President, but he politely turns it down – because he didn’t want to give up power!

Just three years later, the then Secretary General of the UN suggested that CNN should be the 16th member of the Security Council. Sir Arthur was fond of quoting this, and once famously told Turner: “You owe me 10 per cent of your income”.

These references – illustrating the power of globalised satellite television – are recalled in TVE Asia Pacific‘s official tribute to Sir Arthur C Clarke, who passed away on March 19 aged 90.

“With the death of Sir Arthur C Clarke, TVE Asia Pacific has lost a long-standing friend and supporter,” the tribute says.

It adds: “Since our establishment in 1996, Television for Education Asia Pacific – to use our full name – has been engaged in pursuing Sir Arthur’s vision of using the potential of moving images to inform and educate the public. Our founders chose to focus on covering development and social issues, with emphasis on the Asia Pacific region – home to half of humanity and where Sir Arthur spent the last half century of his life.”

Although he never held a formal position at TVEAP, Sir Arthur was an informal adviser and mentor to the regional media organisation whose work across Asia Pacific is only possible thanks to the comsat that invented and the web that he inspired.

By the time TVEAP was created in the mid 1990s, the satellite TV revolution was well underway in the Asia Pacific region, and the internet revolution was just taking off. In informal discussions, Sir Arthur advised us to always keep our eyes open on what’s coming up. In the ICT sector, he cautioned, being too closely wedded to one technology or system could lead to rapid obsolescence.

The tribute mentions Sir Arthur’s specific support for the Children of Tsunami media project, and the Communicating Disasters publication.

We also talk about Sir Arthur’s concerns about using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to benefit the poor and other disadvantaged groups – a process that he aptly described as ‘geek to meek’.

We end by recalling how TVEAP recorded and uploaded to YouTube Sir Arthur’s last public video address – his 90th birthday reflections in December 2007.

Read TVEAP’s tribute to Sir Arthur C Clarke, 1917-2008

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