Jim Ayson, local Internet pioneer and digital auteur, passes away at 53

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Filipino tech pioneer Jim Ayson, who chronicled the country’s advent into the PC age until the introduction of the Internet and eventually the boom of social media, has died due to heart attack. He was 53.

Jim Ayson with daughter Gabby (Credit: Facebook page of Jim Ayson)

Ayson’s sudden departure shocked the local Internet community that he assiduously cultivated and followed. A member of the Cyberview Facebook group (a modern iteration of the online mailing list he created in the old Yahoogroups) said Ayson was rushed to St. Lukes Global City after collapsing at midnight, Nov. 9, while using his laptop.

“He was still breathing… [but t]hey weren’t able to revive him,” said Cyberview member Henry Abesamis, quoting a fellow employee at Smart Communications.

This was not the first time, however, that Ayson was hit by a cardiac attack. He previously underwent a heart procedure which led to the dramatic reduction in his weight.

His brother, veteran IT executive Jojo Ayson, who is now on his way back to the Philippines after attending a conference in the US, said in a text message that “it was Jim’s wishes to be cremated.”

His wake will be held at Heritage Park in Taguig City starting Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 3 in the afternoon until Friday.

Prior to his passing, Ayson worked at Smart Communications where he headed a team in charge of Internet and media partnerships.

Born on April 16, 1962 to parents Romulo Ayson and Yolanda Dycaico Ayson, James “Jim” Ayson was a hardcore Blue Eagle. He attended the Ateneo de Manila University where he obtained his degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

He was one of the first tech writers in the Philippines, writing columns for some the country’s earliest IT publications. His first gig was with Metropolitan Computer Times, the county’s pioneering tech magazine, where he wrote a column titled “Over A Stack of Diskettes.”

His simple but uncompromising style of writing allowed his tech journalism career to flourish with subsequent stints in PC Digest, Computerworld Philippines, Business Day Magazine, Enterprise, Entrepreneur Magazine, Mobile Philippines, and The Reviewer.

He later on wrote the most authoritative account on the history of the Internet in the country. Seeing the profound impact of the Internet in the local economy and everyday life of Filipinos, he pushed for the 20th commemoration of the Internet in the country in 2014.

His passion for music also drove him to create the seminal music website PhilMusic.com in 1997. This led him to write music pieces for the Philippine Star, Mabuhay Magazine, Business Day, and Fudge Magazine.

But his interest also ranged from “social media, mobile Internet, mobile apps, developer programs, digital music distribution, disintermediating traditional media.”

Partly because of work at Smart, his last obsession was the social media phenomenon “AlDub” which he dissected and discussed extensively in his blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Ayson is survived by his wife Chette and baby daughter Gabby.

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