Obituary: David Eusebius Vaine, 1959-2009

It is with great sadness that I have to report the sudden passing in an accident of Dr David Vaine, partner in consulting firm Apparently KM PLC, and founder of the Institute for Minimal Impact KM™. Dr Vaine was a member of our advisory board, and while we had substantial differences of opinion on many matters, and never actually took any of his advice, he had served as a valuable sounding board and a true compass of where not to go in our consulting practice.

The circumstances of his passing are still emerging, but there are some clues in a speech he delivered at his last public appearance, at the actKM conference in Canberra, in October 2009. At that event Dr Vaine announced that his firm had been working for some time on what he called a Knowledge Amplification Programme (KAMP) using a device he called a Temporary Spatio Temporal Multi Projection System, and that he had been using this device to enable KM guru Dennis Snowden to appear simultaneously at multiple KM conferences.

In private remarks to friends, Dr Vaine had also expressed some despondency about the moribund state of KM in general and the lack of vitality and interest in KM conferences in particular. It is well known that Dr Vaine considered that the only original thinker in the KM space apart from himself was Dennis Snowden.

It now appears that Dr Vaine had conceived a plan to remedy this moribundity and inject new intellectual vigour into the theory and practice of KM by using his device to convene a KM conference comprised solely of Dennis Snowdens, thereby amplifying his intellect across the KM domain. Dr Vaine’s notes suggest that up to 120 versions of Dennis Snowden were convened for this experiment.

A postmortem on Dr Vaine’s remains has reportedly discovered that his skull had internal scorch marks but was otherwise completely empty. Investigators are working on the theory that the wisdom acceleration effect of hyper-competition among the multiple Dennis Snowdens striving among themselves for intellectual supremacy reached in a matter of moments a Point of Cognitive Singularity and that the resulting cognitive blast wave flash evaporated Dr Vaine’s brain.

Fortunately Dr Vaine was conducting his work in complete secrecy in a remote location and nobody else was harmed, including Dennis Snowden, who was successfully resolved back to his original state when the projection system was shut down in the blast. Snowden reportedly has no recollection of the event, though he was briefly in a deleuzian delirium immediately afterwards.

Dr Vaine was educated at institutions proximate to Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh, and his interest in KM started early. His PhD dissertation on Information Processing Viscosity and Impermeability Factors Affecting the Enacted Hierarchy of Needs in Rattus Norvegicus Commercial Colonies won high praise from one of its readers.

Dr Vaine worked as a top level administrator and thought leader in a number of commercial settings, including several posts in management, before his latest role as a leading consulting guru. He was highly sought after as an inspirational speaker and podcaster, and his highly successful KM exercise video series entitled Low Impact? No Impact! has topped the video rental charts among KM practitioners at least twice in the past five years.

In years to come Dr David Vaine will be remembered as Knowledge Management’s first martyr to progress. He will be sorely missed.

Note: I would like to express my appreciation to Edgar Tan and Arthur Shelley, who were with me when I received the tragic news, and were very supportive.


15 Comments so far

Bill Proudfit

May he forever be at a nexus of tacit + explicit + cognitive intersection

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 10:39 AM | Comment permalink

James Robertson

We shall all mourn his passing. It is true that his advice was (and should have been) universally ignored. Despite this (or because of it?), he was a true KM guru and a shining light for us all.

May project’s lack of impact forever be delivered in his name!

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 10:51 AM | Comment permalink

Keith De La Rue

Please accept my condolences. The world will be much poorer for his passing, but will mostly be unaware of this great loss…

I would have thought that a pre-mortem may have been more appropriate to determine the cause of death?

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 11:22 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Ah… if only we had done that pre-mortem!

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 11:25 AM | Comment permalink

Two words: Max. Headroom.

A genius like Dr Vaine is not so easily put to rest!

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 01:31 PM | Comment permalink

I have said elsewhere that I blame the Australian KM coimmunityfor forcing him to become a mere after dinner entertainer for ActKM rather than allowing him to lead your events and thinking obviously unhinged his connection with reality.  He obviously sought the limelight and the failure to gain suitable recognition caused him to enter the risky path described above.

I suspect however that he is merely visiting another dimension, and will return.  I am sure that he has (note I refuse to use the past tense) in common with his inspiration and soul mate Zaphod Beeblebrox, simply entered the total perspective vortex and will return, eating a piece of Fairy cake, confident of how much the world needs him.

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 02:15 PM | Comment permalink

Bill Proudfit

I agree, once in the nexus there is no death just transformation into another dimensional reality.

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 02:20 PM | Comment permalink

As sad as it is to hear of his apparent passing I’m hoping that a search of his office reveals one or more of his highly informative videos. It would be even more interesting if a video of the Snowden Collective he created were to turn up.

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 03:37 PM | Comment permalink

Cory Banks

He succeeded where others have only acheived mediocrity in having minimal impact.

For those who only acheive partial success in their lives he was shining beacon.

Darkness now floods the expansive wasteland of underachievement. Where can we now huddle for for light and warmth in the land of minimal impact?

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 06:46 PM | Comment permalink

Arthur Shelley

Foul play they cry! Rumours are gathering which suggest that Dr Vaine may have been “removed” because of his committment to his contaversial research. Although not explititly stated, there are conspiracies emergent amongst the km’ers networks. The mysterious complete destruction os DrVaine’s IP (evapourisation of his Brian) was considered necessary to ensure biologists could not SECI-tract any tacit remenants to continue his work on Guruplication. The hyper brain evaporation story being a management construction to inappropriately influence people’s perspectives of the truth. One day we hope to use narrative extraction of those close to Dr Vaine to find the hidden patterns amongst the weak signals to answer the questions we are afraid to ask and highlight how evil and unethical it is to manufacture stories for inappropriate use.

These theories show how much of a martyr Dr Vaine truly was. As I ponder the future without his wicked insights, I am already considering the possibilities of St David of Sanctimonious KM?

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 07:32 PM | Comment permalink

And what about the role of Mordred Keats?  Was he really just an observer?

Posted on December 01, 2009 at 11:03 PM | Comment permalink

Arthur Shelley

As you are probably aware the world of human interactions is a complex place (well for thinking people anyway). How our interactions, or lack thereof, are interpreted depends upon our entrained patterns, beliefs, values and ethics (or with those unscrupulous aussies think they can get away with).

Some will view Dr Vaine as an innocent Saint others an entertainer and others as a brilliant researcher. Does your comment add weight to the conspiracy theory that he was removed because he was not considered an innocent bystander?

Posted on December 03, 2009 at 05:39 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick Ham

The Master’s burden shall now be taken up by his most honored disciple.

Posted on December 03, 2009 at 10:41 PM | Comment permalink

Luke Naismith

So sad to hear of Dr Vaine’s passing, Patrick.  I knew that you two were quite close. While his brain may have vaporised, the knowledge he imparted will live on in the memories of KMers everywhere.

Posted on December 06, 2009 at 03:40 AM | Comment permalink

Ben Cowell

I only heard him once, over a crowded dinner hall via video link. Yet, his echo stays with me - in the voices of technicians promoted to leadership roles who speak of adapting Lean Six Sigma approaches to collaboration and knowledge sharing, and in tinpot dictator beaureacrats, who wax tedious on moving knowledge services from Rolls Royce to Ford approaches, lest their quality be too great.

May flights of PHBs sing him to his eternal rest.

Posted on December 07, 2009 at 07:41 AM | Comment permalink

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