[Pdx-pm] [meeting notes] What can we do about the low student SoC turn out?

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Fri Apr 11 23:29:54 PDT 2008

On Friday 11 April 2008, Shlomi Fish wrote:
> On Thursday 10 April 2008, benh wrote:
> > Here are all the things that I scribbled down from the meeting
> > tonight, add and comment as you feel necessary.
> >
> > - Make perl 'cool' so that the kids think that it's exciting
> >   - games
> Right. In Israel, I jump-started the Israeli Python group, and also gave
> some advice to the Ruby-ILers. I started learning Ruby and it seems
> interesting.
> I'll give my own take of this issue later on, because KMail is misbehaving
> in this message, for the first time ever. (A Heisenbug probably).

One of the presentations I attended an made the most sense is this one:


("The Hacker's Guide to Marketing").

You can try to see how well the first hits in 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&c2coff=1&safe=off&q=perl&btnG=Search fare 
according to it. (Though perl.com and perl.org has improved since last I 
saw), and from what I can see now at least perl.org is now the first hit 
instead of perl.com. I tried to take the marketing approach into account when 
working on http://perl-begin.org/ , but the testimonials part could use more 
work, and I could really use the help of a professional graphics designer 
(And probably a professional web-stylist.), but probably cannot really afford 

Another problem I see is that Perl has become somewhat of a legacy technology. 
Joel on Software describes what happened to OLE/COM here:


That's a huge difference, and when I talked to some friends from Microsoft 
Consulting Services about this they admitted that Microsoft had lost a whole 
generation of developers. The reason it takes $130,000 to hire someone with 
COM experience is because nobody bothered learning COM programming in the 
last eight years or so, so you have to find somebody really senior, usually 
they're already in management, and convince them to take a job as a grunt 
programmer, dealing with (God help me) marshalling and monikers and apartment 
threading and aggregates and tearoffs and a million other things that, 
basically, only Don Box ever understood, and even Don Box can't bear to look 
at them any more.

Obviously Perl is still actively developed, loved by many people, and still 
attracts some developers, is not as hard as COM or OLE, and in a better 
shape. However, it still has the same problem that it's not what all the cool 
kids hear about, and is the latest trend. Ruby had some buzz due to 
Ruby-on-Rails, but from what people told me the buzz is now largely over, and 
the cool kids have moved to greener pastures.

Perl is also controversial: it was not meant to be likable by anyone, or 
particularly aesthetic, or a "small language", nor was a serious corporate 
attempt was done to hype it, like Java was. It happened to be there at the 
right moment when the web revolution started, became popular and since then 
probably lost some of its popularity.

Where was I?

I'm not sure if we should try to renew a new hyper-buzz about Perl. But it 
should be doable to counter a lot of the negative hype surrounding Perl and 
the fact that many people feel they shouldn't bother learning it. 

Another aspect is to convince workplaces that they should train capable and 
promising programmers in Perl. While the project head probably needs to have 
quite a lot of experience in Perl (see 
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/LordPalmerston.html ), some of his 
underlings can be new Perl programmers. I've heard that several workplaces 
now are desperately looking for Perl programmers, and some even consider 
switching to something else (Java, PHP or .NET are usually considered good 
candidates by them) because they cannot find good programmers.

Perhaps an article about it would be a good idea. As strange as it sounds, I 
had problems finding a Perl job. I didn't see anything of relevance in 
http://jobs.perl.org.il/ for a long time, or on the Linux-IL mailing list. 
Some companies include Perl as part of a general sys-admin, web-programming 
or QA requirements, but I wasn't accepted there.[1] At the moment, I'm 
working as a Linux server C++ programmer. The code that originated from Win32 
gives me a lot of problem, mostly due to portability problems that are 
manifested at run-time (the worst kind), but the work is mostly OK and the 
people are nice.

I may feel I'm over-qualified to work purely in Perl, because I have a B.Sc. 
in Electrical Engineering, and because I know C/C++ and Assembler in and out. 
The job I thought idea was to do something between software and hardware, 
like programming Embedded Systems, Signal Processing or kernel or drivers' 
development. But Perl is still my favourite language, the one I'm most 
productive with, and the one most of my FOSS code is written.

I'm not alone as many experienced Perl programmers ended up taking jobs in 
other technologies so they'll have some change.

On Freenode's #perl , we often get people asking us on help how to learn Perl, 
or how to fix a Perl script[1] - some of them are young and some of them even 
know PHP, Python, etc. We don't have many people looking for Perl hackers to 
hire, but I was sometimes told it's a bit prevalent in irc.perl.org's #perl. 
Perhaps a site for employers looking to hire Perl programmers would be good 
as well as sites for helping people learn Perl.

[1] - the Frenode channel's policy is that if someone wants us to help him 
with his Perl code, he should either learn Perl himself (at least enough to 
understand and be able to tweak the code.), or pay someone to do his work for 
him. Sometimes people who come to the channel feel it's unfair, but one 
should realise that even in the FOSS world, there aren't any free lunches.

One thing I noticed is that many people who frequent #perl6 (including some 
Perl "big-names") don't frequeny #perl. This is naturally expected because 
they often don't care about the chat and random Q&A that we have on #perl, 
but I still feel we could use a more active endoresement of the 
Perl "leadership".

I think I'll stop now as I feel this is just a braindump. I'm sorry that this 
message was so long, but like Blaise Pascal, I didn't have time to write a 
shorter one.


	Shlomi Fish

Shlomi Fish      shlomif at iglu.org.il
Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/

I'm not an actor - I just play one on T.V.

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