Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carl Backstrom = WYSIWYG

This posting isn't about Oracle Application Express. It's merely some simple thoughts about our good friend, Carl Backstrom.

I paid attention to the pages of postings on the APEX OTN discussion forum about Carl. Some are from people whom Carl helped once or twice. Others, Carl tirelessly helped many times. Very few of these people actually met Carl, yet they were affected by his death - he touched them in some positive way. I received e-mail from others who only met Carl once or twice, and even they admitted they were affected by this, and couldn't quite pinpoint why. Well...I'll tell you why.

Carl was the definition of WYSIWYG. There was no air about Carl. He was not pretentious in any way. He did not have an agenda. He was not artificial. He was very human and authentic. His omnipresent positive attitude and enthusiasm were sincere and infectious. He was someone you enjoyed being around, someone you wanted to be around. He possessed an intangible, endearing quality.

I enjoyed that Carl was ever so unassuming. If you met Carl for the first time, you might have thought that he's some nice casual fellow who also likes to be a skater in his spare time (turns out, he was a snowboarder). Little would you know that what underlaid his visage was one of the brightest, hardest-working, most creative and visionary minds on the planet when it comes to AJAX, JavaScript, Web 2.0, Web design, RIA - whatever you want to call it. I am not embellishing this fact.

Carl's greatest character flaw, as I see it, was that he could rarely if ever say "no" to someone who was seeking his help. He was always ready to assist someone, no matter who they were, no matter the size of the problem, big or small. What a wonderful "flaw" to have. It is something I can only hope to aspire to.

I shall miss him dearly.


Arie Geller said...

Hi Joel,

Words from the heart.

I believe Carl’s family can take some comfort in knowing that a lot of people will remember and appreciate Carl as an excellent professional, and a great person. This is not always an obvious combination, but in Carl’s case, it was a winning combination.


Monty Latiolais said...


A beautiful and fitting post.

We should all seek to be remembered in such a fashion.

Unknown said...

thank you again Joel, and again, Stella