Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dan Jezek

It's been difficult to decide what to put up here today. Dan Jezek has died. While few (if any) of his original models can still be found online today, he contributed to the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) community in a few enormous ways.

He was most well-known for creating and single-handedly running BrickLink, a site where LEGO parts can be bought and sold. Being able to buy groups of parts instead of whole sets in the manner BrickLink enabled allowed many of us to build wildly different things than we would otherwise. Many (myself included) have actually changed our LEGO buying habits in favor of buying large quantities of parts off of BrickLink and multiple copies of sets - since any undesired parts from those sets can be easily sold to other LEGO hobbyists on BrickLink. It's safe to say that most of us would own very different LEGO collections (and thus not be able to build many of the things we have) if not for the existence of BrickLink.

But BrickLink is a marketplace, and since the world of online commerce is restricted to those of legal age, it hasn't left as much of an impression on young people. Even though the BrickLink catalog is one of the most valuable LEGO resources we have now, the price guides and inventories aren't quite as useful or intuitive when you don't have buying in mind. If anything, it creates a sense of jealousy, since you know that older LEGO fans can just buy whatever parts they want or need to flesh out a project while kids are still limited to the parts they have on hand.

Dan Jezek's larger influence on me was from his links page. Back in the days before blogs, it was relatively common for someone to gather up a bunch of links about a topic to keep track of what webpages they'd liked and wanted to share. I originally came across Dan's links page back in the fall of 1996, and that's where I found all the other LEGO-related websites from. A newer version of that page was captured by the Internet Archive. Frankly, without having discovered that links page in 1996, it's unlikely I would have discovered LEGO as a hobby. The breadth of topics covered introduced me to seemingly every LEGO theme, and it's still common for people to tell me they've never seen something before even though I know it's been around since back then. It's hard to imagine where I'd be had I not found that links page and opened every link.

Given how much of an outpouring there's been over this, it's something of a reflex to try to round up reactions:
Model Building Secrets
Bricks in my Pocket
A Modular Life
The Brothers Brick
akunthita on flickr
SavaTheAggie on flickr

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