[Israel.pm] RE: YAPC. The good, the bad and the ugly

Yaron Golan yarongo at mercury.co.il
Tue Mar 9 07:35:44 PST 2004

Hi Nadav.
I am sorry that I made you that mad. I guess you are mad due to the tone of
your writing.
You shouldn't take it that hard, it is bad for your heart.

I didn't come to YAPC 2004 to get perl code snippets. That I can get on the
net, at your site for example....

On the other hand, I didn't come to waist my time either.
I didn't come to hear that there is a way I can monitor my system.
I didn't come to hear that there is a way I can send SMS via the Internet.
That I already know.
I mainly came to get new ideas and learn what else I can do with perl.

I also came to hear in what way perl is better or different than that other
50 languages.
If I wanted to hear about web programming in Java, I'd go to a YAJC, not a
But I don't want.
I wanted to hear about perl. Get it?

I think that the YAPCs and the monthly meetings are great when they give me
what I need: Inspiration.

When I get the feeling that my time is wasted, it makes me sad.
When I'm sad, I'm not inspired.

-----Original Message-----
From: Nadav Har'El [mailto:nyh at math.technion.ac.il] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 3:56 PM
To: perl at perl.org.il
Cc: yarongo at mercury.co.il; gabor at perl.org.il; marthag at mit.edu
Subject: Re: YAPC. The good, the bad and the ugly

Hi guys. I'm not a member of this list, but I browsed it through the web
interface looking for YAPC 2004 feedback, and I found one message I'd like
to comment on. I hope it won't sound too much like I'm a baker talking about
his own dough - I'm trying to raise a more general issue here, and not
trying to defend my own presentation, which might well have been crappy.

Yaron Golan said in his comments, among other things:
> 2. System monitoring (Martha) - Besides the fact the there is a utility
>    named 'mon' written in perl, I didn't find any relevance.
>    I expected that the lectures will be more perlish, not general info.
> 3. Harnessing the power of the web with LWP(Nadav) - Same. I didn't come
>    learn about the Internet, I came to see how I can use perl for it.

This raises an interesting question. Why do people come to YAPC?
It appears that there are different types of people, who came to the
conference for very different purposes.

Yaron's post, as well as some comments I heard during my lecture, seem to
suggest that some people came to the conference as a quick way to learn Perl
programming or perl recipes. They expected to go out of a lecture with
specific Perl code snippets, and URLs of example programs, that they can use
the following day in their code.

A completely different view of the potential of this conference, is that you
go there to get new *ideas* about things you can do with Perl.
Had you ever thought of automating system administration tasks in the way
that Martha described it? Had you ever heard of mon? I didn't. Martha's
lecture gave me a new idea of what I can do in Perl. She told us why what
she did is useful, told us that it is done in Perl, and gave us project
names which you could Google if you want to see the actual code (which is in

But, you might object, why do I care if Mon or Libwww-perl are written in
Perl and used in Perl, when after all the exact same thing can be done in C,
Java, and 50 other languages? Well, if we don't allow lectures about things
that *also* can be done in other languages, the only lectures we'll be left
with are those about Perl Golf or Perl vs. Ruby. Even Issac's lecture, which
you (and I) liked, was about something that can be done in a myriad other

Another objection you might have is about the exposition vs. code ratio -
there should have been more slides with Perl code, and less explanations on
the problem being solved and why it is useful. Well, some factors cause
presentations to show less code than you might have wanted:

 1. In a 30 minute presentation, giving both exposition (explaining
    the problem and solution) and perl code examples is hard. If you
    spend just 15 minutes on the problem itself, people will complain that
    you spent more than half the presentation without Perl code.

 2. People can't remember the code you show on the slides. It's much easier
    to remember an idea (e.g., from my lecture I hope you remember only the
    word "libwww-perl" and the phrase "web automation is useful") and then
    go home and look it up. In fact, some may consider showing code slides
    for 10 minutes, code that nobody will remember anyway, to be an utter
    waste of time.

You know, before last year's YAPC (the first one), I was very hesitant to
come to it. I was thinking to myself that it would be very boring - I'm an
experienced Perl programmer (using it for at about 7 years), and I'll be
going to hear boring lectures about Perl syntax and programming techniques.
But boy, was I wrong. YAPC 2003 was very interesting for me, because people
talked about interesting things they did in Perl, without getting "fanatic"
about the fact that it was done in Perl. We all knew that many things
described as being done in Perl could have also been done in Python or C,
but they weren't - they were done in Perl. Perl was a binding theme of the
conference, but not its sole topic, which made it much more interesting for
someone like me - who came to the conference looking for new ideas and
"insights", not Perl code snippets.

Just something to think about when selecting the presentations for next
year's YAPC, and planning parallel session "themes".

Nadav Har'El                        |        Tuesday, Mar 9 2004, 16 Adar
nyh at math.technion.ac.il
Phone: +972-53-790466, ICQ 13349191 |Sign in zoo: Do not feed the animals.
http://nadav.harel.org.il           |you have food give it to the guard on

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