[Chicago-talk] Standing on the edge of the pool

Andy Lester andy at petdance.com
Mon Apr 6 07:25:57 PDT 2009

Comment either here or http://perlbuzz.com/2009/04/are-you-standing-on-the-edge-of-the-pool.html

At my family's St. Patrick's Day party, we had the Wii set up and had  
two guitars going playing Guitar Hero. Quinn, my seven-year-old  
daughter, was rockin' and showing her uncle Kevin how to play. She was  
explaining how he had to hold the green fret button AND hit the strum  
bar right when the green thing crossed the bottom line and once he got  
it going, and he was able to play "Barracuda," he had a great time.

Meanwhile, other friends and relatives were clustered around, watching  
with fascination. They weren't gamers by any stretch, most in their  
40s and 50s, but I could tell they really wanted to try. When Kevin  
was done, I took his guitar and held it out for someone on the couch.  
"Here, you try it," I told her. "Oh, no, that's OK, I don't know how,  
let someone else play," she said, embarrassed. "It's OK, it's fun, and  
it's easy once you get the hang of it." This broke her defense and she  
said "OK, what do I do?" taking the guitar from me. She got the hang  
of it quickly, loved playing three or four songs, and started trying  
to get her husband to try it.

It's kind of like someone standing outside of a swimming pool,  
embarrassed about jumping in. It's clear that people in the pool are  
having a great time, but for some reason he feels self-conscious.  
Maybe he's afraid he's not a good enough swimmer, because he can't do  
fancy dives off the high board. Whatever the reason, with a little  
encouragement, whether he jumps in the deep end, or just slowly walks  
down the stairs on the shallow end, he gets in the water and has a  
great time, and his friends are glad he's in there with them.

Sometimes I talk to people like that standing in Perl. It'll be  
someone who's been using Perl for years, and loves what Perl does for  
him, and would somehow like to contribute to Perl, to get into the  
pool where everyone's having a good time, but he's afraid.

Maybe he's got a module he developed that he doesn't think is "good  
enough" for CPAN (as if CPAN is 100% stellar). Maybe he fears that  
he's not a good enough coder to contribute patches. Perhaps he doesn't  
realize that not all contributions to open source need to be code. Or  
perhaps he just doesn't know where to start.

Are you that person? Have you wanted to contribute to Perl, or any  
other open source project, but just haven't? Please let me know your  
story in the comments.


Andy Lester => andy at petdance.com => www.petdance.com => AIM:petdance

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