Perl at FOSDEM 2013 and the outreach

As you can read on the post of Claudio Ramirez (aka El-Che) and Wendy G.A. van Dijk (aka Wendy) there is going to be a Perl dev-room at FOSDEM 2013 that takes place on 2-3 February 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.

It's awesome as this was a last-minute chance to fill a dev-room that was canceled by some other group. Within just 2-3 days, these two people managed to get the word out and bring in 14 speakers with 14 talks and they even have some more on stand-by.

What I especially like about the talks is that at least some of them might be interesting to people who are not yet using Perl.


On the other side of the big water, VM Brasseur just posted an article on improving Perl's New Programmer Outreach.

I commented there too, but let me re-iterate it. I think before setting up training classes and hack-days for total newbies or for people who have not used Perl earlier, one should answer the following questions:

  • Why would someone want to learn Perl?
  • What problems does Perl solve in a nice way?

People want to learn something either because it is fun or because it is useful.

People want to learn something because it will solve an existing problem which is unrelated to Perl, or because they want to get a job at a company using Perl, or because they want to imitate something successful.

Two more questions then:

FOSDEM and the outreach

Without distracting from the value Claudio and Wendy and all the Perl-speakers at FOSDEM create, I think there is something else, equally important that could have been done at FOSDEM. Something I tried in previous years and mostly failed. So I am not blaming anyone, I am just expressing my thoughts.

I think it would be important for next year's FOSDEM to infiltrate the other dev-rooms and the main tracks and offer Perl-related talks there. For example the Perl/NoSQL, with a particular focus on MongoDB of Jean-Marie Gouarné could have been submitted to the NoSQL room. Maybe with a slightly different focus.

That would reach people who did not particularly care about Perl earlier with a solution to the problem (or field) they care about.

Outreach and other non-Perl events

I feel like a broken record repeating the same thing. If, for whatever reason, you would like to reach out to people who don't yet use Perl, you need to provide something that is interesting for them and you need to provide at a place and time where they are.

There are plenty of conferences of fields and technologies where Perl could be applied providing a solution to some problem. If you have a solution to a problem, go and show it to the potential users.

If you don't have solution. Find a problem which is interesting for you and create a solution.

Published on 2013-01-28 by Gabor Szabo