Don't Make the Robot Devil Angry

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In another life, I edit novels. I annoy friends and family by pausing the DVR or the DVD, pointing at the screen, and saying "Notice that? Here's how the show will end." I cut adverbs. I tighten dialog. I laugh when the robot devil in the final broadcast episode of Futurama complains that Fry's expository dialog makes him feel so angry.

Then I write about Perl, I read about Perl, I write Perl, I maintain Perl, I edit Perl, and I edit writings about Perl, and bless everyone's heart for participating in Perl Iron Man and publishing their code to the CPAN and tweeting and denting and social networking about how we're getting great new features and regular releases and interesting tools and better frameworks and more documentation (and, yes, fresh books again)... but if I never read another "Perl Isn't Dead" or "Perl; Still Alive" post, that's really okay.

The robot devil has a point. It's clumsy to announce how your characters feel:

"I'm angry," said Angry Bob, angrily.

It's more effective to demonstrate how they feel:

Bob's eyes narrowed and Glenna had to strain to hear his tense whisper. "You think you're so smart, but you don't know anything about me."

We can all write "We do cool things with Perl all day, really! Really really!" but it's more effective to show the cool things we do with Perl. It's more effective to demonstrate that Moose and MooseX::Declare are powerful, effective technology. It's easy to point to 28 (almost 29) releases of Rakudo that you can download and install now and say "Perl 6? Yeah, you can use it today." It's fantastic to send someone a link to Strawberry Perl and say "All of CPAN is available for you right now."

Any one of those things is worth ten press releases that we're still around in our little corner of the programming universe, because we're supposed to be pragmatic and practical programmers who spend our time Getting Stuff Done. Buzz is nice and buzz is good, but I'll take an Adam Kennedy or an RJBS or a Tatsuhiko Miyagawa or a Karen Pauley or an Ingy over a thousand press releases any time, because I can point to almost anything any of those people have done as evidence of a brilliant, vibrant, active community.

Emphasizing that makes me happy.

5 Comments

I agree that standing in the sand storm and shouting "I am still alive" is a bit funny and quite useless but I am not sure why you bash press releases in general?


You send out release notes or whatever you call them every time there is a release of Rakudo, Parrot, Perl 5.xx, Strawberry Perl or any larger project.
They are nice and important and reach a small and devoted community.


Adding to them a more business or press oriented message would IMHO increase their value by reaching folks that don't read our mailing lists or blogs.


That's a good point, Gabor. I'm happy to see press releases, especially praising nice new features, useful projects, and community conferences and events.

Press releases, articles, blogs, commentary, and anything that explicitly says "Perl: Still Alive After All These Years!" bother me. Show me it's useful. Let everyone else infer the subconscious message from there.

Maybe some sort of advocacy handbook would help, it could just be a page on perl.org or something.

Although when I have blogging time sometimes I write with the newcomer or Perl suspicious in mind, but often it is a total release to just assume my reader is a perl expert :) However those blogs are not as popular...

Yeah, I do think we are past the point of, "Perl is Alive", and "Top Ten Reasons to Choose XXXX."

Slightly unrelated.

You probably know the journals landscape a lot better than I do. What would be the best places to try write and publish articles about Perl?

This depends on the audience you're trying to reach. I've seen some successful articles on "How to Do Something Cool (using Perl)" in places like IBM Developer Works and Linux magazines. Any advocacy there is implicit, at least if the code is good. I like that general technology and developer websites are writing articles about Perl releases, even if I quibble with some of the framing discussion ("Perl 6 isn't out yet, but Perl 5 is still kicking!" isn't helpful, and it's the wrong way to think about things.)

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This page contains a single entry by chromatic published on May 12, 2010 4:03 PM.

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