LINGUIST List 12.1815

Fri Jul 13 2001

All: Obituary: Bertrand Ibrahim

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. Gerard Manning, Obituary: Bertrand Ibrahim

Message 1: Obituary: Bertrand Ibrahim

Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 08:29:10 -0700
From: Gerard Manning <>
Subject: Obituary: Bertrand Ibrahim

	I have some very sad news: On July 3, Bertrand Ibrahim, the 
secretary and vice-chair of the Virtual Library council died, in Beirut, 
where he was attending a conference. He was just 46 years old.

	Bertrand has been one of the strongest forces behind the 
Virtual Library, and will be sorely missed both personally and 
professionally. He was one of the very earliest members of the 
Virtual Library, starting his VL sections on Visual Languages and 
Programming and Tck/Tk back in 1994, when the web was just starting 
to develop. He emerged as one of VLs strongest proponents and 
architects in 1997, when Arthur Secret left the project and we were 
left without a structure. It was Bertrand's guiding principle that we 
as members who build the VL should control its operations, and that 
the VL should be answerable to each member. To that end he 
volunteered for the ad-hoc committee to create a new VL structure and 
was unanimously elected it's chair. His vision and work there to 
create the VL constitution and bylaws were quite phenomenal. It was 
inspiring to see his dedication to creating a truly democratic VL 
structure, and to listen to every point of view and strive for 
consensus, no matter what it took. In over 300 emails to the 
committee, he showed again and again how differences could be 
bridged, better solutions made and consensus could be reached. His 
dedication to the vision of the VL, to getting it right, and to 
listening and trying to accommodate all points of view were truly 
memorable. The result was our constitution and bylaws that firmly 
place control and ownership of the VL among us, the members.

	After the acceptance of the bylaws, Bertrand was elected 
member, secretary and vice-chair of our VL council, where he 
continued to strive for excellence and stability in the VL, and has 
been one of the main contributors on almost every issue that we have 
addressed, from finishing our bylaws to registering the VL as a 
real-world entity, to co-ordinating the computing-area VL sections 
and much more.

	Bertrand worked as a professor of Computer Science at the 
University of Geneva; you can see more on his extensive research and 
other activities on his personal home page at

	It was a great pleasure to work with Bertrand, and to learn 
from his respect for all and all views. I will sorely miss him, and 
he will be very much missed on the council and in the broader VL. He 
has left this world far too young, but he did a great deal of good in 
his time, not least in the VL, where he promoted and helped realize 
the vision of expert volunteers working to build a catalog of 
knowledge for the common good of all.

	If anyone would like to share their experiences of 
interacting with Bertrand in the VL, please do post to this list. We 
(the council) are planning on creating a memorial page to reflect 
Bertrand's contributions to the VL, and would very much like to hear 
from others as to what Bertrand's legacy is, in memories and actions.

	In closing, let me steal a line from Michael Chapman, who 
wished Bertrand what he wished us all at the end of every one of his 



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