Sewi, Phaylon and the Foswiki developers have already written very good posts about CeBIT and the Perl booth in English and Renee in German (see all posts listed on the Perl::Staff page and on our wiki. (though I don't know what interesting discussions Sewi mentions as neither of us could actually talk in the evenings...)
I must say a big, big public thanks to Sebastian Willing (Sewi) and Tanja who took me in their house occupying their living room for a whole week during CeBIT. Not only made that the whole trip affordable but it was really nice to be with them and to get to know each other a little bit more.
I also would like to thank the people of Perl::Staff for being at the Perl booth. First of all to Renee Baecker who prepared most of the new material for the fair and who took me from Frankfurt and back again. Thanks to Torsten Raudssus, (aka. Getty or the man with the wings), who did not have a blog a week ago and only reads the recent upload feed of CPAN. If you'd like to get his attention, you'll need to write the text in the documentation of a module and upload to CPAN.
Our good neighbour Andreas 'ads' Scherbaum, the friendly Postgres guy helped us a lot both before and during the event and of course Britta Wuelfing from Linux Magazin who was our contact person before and during CeBIT.
The postcards with the few projects and the list of Perl Events that we used in FOSDEM were still very good. The community business cards were also working in some cases but less good than in FOSDEM and IMHO the tuits were almost unused. Both because of some language barrier and because that did not fit the type of people visiting CeBIT and our booth.
The big blue promotional material Renee prepared was used well but I think it would have been more useful if it was in German. For future events we should have similar things in several languages. The content of those pages can be found on the wiki page"
The beer-mats were quite useful - in many cases after some discussion, I asked people if they drink beer. Most of them did not understand what a stupid question. Of course they drink beer. They then liked very much the beer-mats. We also had a special event in the evening of the 3rd day when we there was a party just next to us. People got free beer and we supplied the "open source beer-mats, based on Perl". People liked it very much.
We managed to draw a smile on the faces of many visitors which I think is one of the big things we can do. Create positives feelings associated with Perl.
I think that made us a few more friends. Well, maybe except that Python enthusiast who used the opportunity of the beer-mats to give the standard we-use-python-and-hate-perl speech. That reminds me that we actually had a few Python programmers at the stand. They initially did not want to hear anything saying "We are python programmers, we don't care about Perl" but then we could lure them to our computers and show them some modern perl code that impressed them. So there are Python programmers that are open minded and the appropriate amount of friendliness can bring them closer. This probably is related to what Robert Sedlacek wrote in the Other dynamic languages section.
The catch man
When you walk around in area frequently visited by tourists you often see people standing in-front of the restaurants and various other establishments and trying to direct people to enter the place. In a large part that was what I was doing. As people passed by our stand I gave them either a postcard and when we ran out of it some other promotional material. As they looked at the material I soon asked if they speak English. That surprised them a bit and many said they speak German which just gave me the opportunity to point at one of the other Perl::Staff members standing near-by and telling them they speak German.
That was both good as it freed me to go to the next person but it was also better for the visitors that they could speak in their mother tongue. I think that's important. So while we are preparing to attend more events, and I'd be happy to visit more such events and kick-start the local Perl::Staff group but it should be just that. Kick-starting the local group as the visitors will prefer to talk in the local language anyway.
We have listed many many tech events on our wiki page but I am sure we left out a lot more. We are also looking for people who will want to participate in promoting Perl. As other have already mentioned it is both hard work but it is also fun. It is very different from sitting in a cubical and coding or even talking to fellow Perl hackers on a YAPC but it can be rewarding both personal - especially in the evening when you can finally rest ... ;-) - but also professionally.
BTW There are some pictures as well about Perl on CeBIT.
Published on 2010-03-12 by Gabor Szabo