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Yet Another Keynote Speech


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A tale about YAPC, and our community, and about getting old, and ennui, and moving on, and writing home.

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Yet Another Keynote Speech

  1. 1. Yet Another Keynote Speech John SJ Anderson • @genehack • YAPC::NA::Orlando • 25 Jun 2014 photo credit:
  2. 2. John SJ Anderson Director of Technology Infinity Interactive Hi, I'm John, I'm the director of technology for infinity interactive. in my free time, i maintain a few Perl modules, i moderate the perl-beginners and yapc chat lists, and i was the speaker co-ordinator for this year's yapc ! photo credit:
  3. 3. Disclaimer: I'm going to use this opportunity to talk about YAPC, and our community, and about getting old, and ennui, and I'm hopefully going to tie that together into a story. ! photo credit:
  4. 4. I ❤ Perl ObDisclaimer #1: I love Perl. During the telling of this story, I'm going to express some opinions, and advocate for some actions. I want to be clear: these are _my_ opinions.
  5. 5. I ❤ YAPC ObDisclaimer #2: I love YAPC. Further, when I advocate for something, it doesn't mean I think anybody is, or has been, doing anything wrong; it just means that I think there's a potential way to do it better. Thanks for coming to the talk and listening to what I have to say.
  6. 6. part the first: YAPC is not dead photo credit:
  7. 7. Perigrin asked me to give this talk last year, in Austin. And, once I got over the shock, I said sure -- because you just don't turn down this opportunity. I had no idea what I might say, and I've spent big chunks of time over the last year pondering what I might talk about. ! photo credit:
  8. 8. A few months after Austin wrapped up, I volunteered to be speaker coordinator for this year. I had a couple of motivations. First, I had the opportunity to set up the speaker schedule to be the YAPC that I really wanted to go to, which is easily one of the top 3 things I've been involved with in the Perl community. Secondly, more selfishly, I got to schedule my own talk time. ! photo credit:
  9. 9. It turns out there are disadvantages to being speaker coordinator. Basically, everything else. ! photo credit:
  10. 10. #dammitstevan In retrospect, my biggest mistake was my boss quitting and my getting promoted to do his job right when most the organizing was supposed to happen. ! photo credit: received from the subject
  11. 11. Yes, that's really Stevan. In retrospect, my biggest mistake was my boss quitting and my getting promoted to do his job right when most the organizing was supposed to happen. ! photo credit: received from the subject
  12. 12. some notes from the speaker coordinator we are, as i mentioned, not dead attendance for YAPC is down a little this year, but that's because last year was abnormally large ! photo credit:
  13. 13. but i think we need to evolve to avoid becoming a dead-end move in the direction of yapc::asia ! photo credit:
  14. 14. YAPC::Asia has just grown out of hands, quickly from “Perl stars from overseas, and hard-core perl hackers come together to meet” to “Geeks festival to talk about anything about programming, testing to Web stuff”. - miyagawa quoted from
  15. 15. YAPC::NA should remain a Perl-centric conference ! photo credit:
  16. 16. while welcoming other communities and non-Perl topics the "YAPC" community is already not the "Perl" community this is great! ! photo credit:
  17. 17. some of you may have noticed some efforts to shift in this direction ! photo credit:
  18. 18. The && !perl ! track community members talking about passion projects and other non-Perl topics that I thought would interest the YAPC community almost a full track this year would be awesome to have even more in this track next year including recruiting speakers from outside the YAPC community ! photo credit:
  19. 19. special guest keynote speaker Charlie Stross (all props to perigrin) guest keynote speaker (all props to perigrin) let's hear it one more time for charlie stross, our special guest keynote. we are probably tapped out on Hugo-winning CPAN authors for the moment, but finding willing, well known people from outside the usual "YAPC"/"Perl" bubble is a great way to attract attendees from outside that bubble as well -- did anybody specifically attend just to see Charlie? photo credit:
  20. 20. crowdsourced training selections flawed execution (and i get all the credit here) nonetheless this is a good idea give attendees a _much_ wider selection of training options * other langs , hardware , roasting coffee, etc ! photo credit:
  21. 21. overarching goals * these are specifically about _YAPC_, not Perl photo credit:
  22. 22. broaden appeal !
  23. 23. attract newcomers ! photo credit:
  24. 24. retain newcomers how many people are here for the _second_ time ! photo credit:
  25. 25. re-engage expats who don't feel they can justify attending this lets some of our "expats" bring some of their new experiences back into the community Piers Cawley is a great example of this also gives them an excuse to return to the community, where we can eat^Wpick their brains for new things to steal photo credit:
  26. 26. retain -- preserve -- current audience and culture !
  27. 27. philosophy: cool stuff >> language advocacy ! photo credit:
  28. 28. language advocacy is _BORING_ !
  29. 29. long term goal: re-invent/re-brand YAPC as Yet Another *Polyglot* Conference we're a polyglot community *by design* _from the jump_ this is a strength the rest of the coding world is finally starting to catch up with us * osb / strangeloop / that conference we need to double down on our polyglot heritage ! photo credit:
  30. 30. one more thing... organizing this conference is a *lot* of work and that gets said a lot you think you know _i_ thought i knew unless you have done this, you have _no idea_ many organizers are effectively doing this on "work" time in kind donations, basically the head organizer position, however, _is_ a full time job for a good chunk of this process. this conference, and other YAPC conferences, are critical to the effective ongoing development of Perl5 and Perl6 TPF should establish a grant to compensate the YAPC head organizer for the amount of time involved in putting this conference together
  31. 31. part the second: Community Maturity ! photo credit:
  32. 32. Perl is all growed up! We're 26. Typical for somebody of that age, we're starting to realize a few things are different as you age. ! photo credit:
  33. 33. Massive aside: Perl and my younger daughter share a birthday, 19 years apart (this is how I remember Perl's birthday). Luckily, I did _not_ realize this when she was born, avoiding all sorts of awkward naming stories. ! photo credit: speaker
  34. 34. fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son Anyway... In your mid-20s, typically, you'll start to hit that "not in college anymore" phase. You start to maybe realize that some of the stuff you used to do is maybe not as cool as you used to think. I think this is starting to happen in the Perl community, right on schedule. ! photo credit:
  35. 35. As you may have seen from the promo materials here, there's a Mahatma Gandhi quote about being the change you want to see. ! photo credit: speaker
  36. 36. "Behave like you are a member of a community that you want to belong to." – Me. I prefer to think of it more in these terms. Although, I guess to really match, I need to modify it a bit...
  37. 37. "Behave like you are a member of the Perl community that you want to belong to." – Me. As the Perl / YAPC community matures, my hope is that we can all take this to heart, regardless of what formulation you prefer. Because the jerks and the trolls and all the other annoying people out there – this is what they're already doing. And if we don't do something to counter-act that influence, we end up with lousy, horrible communities.
  38. 38. A lot of people wonder how to do this. You don't have to be confrontational. There's been a thread going on p5p, on and off, for a few years. Two reasonably well known Perl hackers, sniping at each other. Last week, Dave Golden started engaging one of them, summarizing his arguments back to him, and asking him to clarify his position. Most importantly, Dave is refusing to let the guy insult him. Not by demanding respect, but by just refusing to acknowledge the slights. We really need people to do more of this. photo credit:
  39. 39. "Well, actually…" one more thing: If you'll indulge me in another aside, i'd like to take a moment to talk about an analogy... if we compare Internet conversation to food, "well actually" is the $2 slice place across from the dive bar in the college town. The one that's only open from midnight to 3am, that serves giant greasy $2 slices, and features _both_ kinds of pizza, sausage _and_ pepperoni. Part of this move towards maturity I'm talking about is realizing that the pizza at that place was never as good as you thought it was, and it was really probably pretty bad for you. The same thing applies to "well, actually" in Internet conversation photo credit:
  40. 40. Another thing that happens with maturity is you start to realize "legacy" is not just an adjective you use to describe complicated code you didn't write. photo credit:
  41. 41. One of our legacies is that a lot of community stuff is not really centralized. We started out pre-Web, we revere whipupitude, and people just went out and _did_ things ... which then got to be important. photo credit:
  42. 42. This sort of patchwork arrangement, with a bunch of essential stuff, not under any centralized control, is pretty much an anti-pattern when it comes to building reliable, sustained services, like the kind of things you want the software you're building to be depending on. photo credit:
  43. 43. Rather than pointing any fingers, I'm just going to say: if you're running something that is important for Perl, and _you're_ running it, as opposed to a group of people, you _really_ need to do something about removing the SPOF that stares back at you in the mirror every day. photo credit:
  44. 44. Some examples of "legacy done right" in the Perl-verse ! photo credit:
  45. 45. Moose bringing popular extensions into core getting commit and release bits for other essential modules distribution of responsibility across the moose cabal photo credit:
  46. 46. metacpan distribution of responsibility lowering bar for new contributors leaderboard
  47. 47. Another source of some new found maturity around legacy in the community is photo credit:
  48. 48. as a source of maturity?!?! *record scratch noise* Wait, did he say '', the biggest bastion of bas...jerks in the Perl world? the Mos Eisley Cantina of Perl? Yeah, I did. There are ongoing efforts to introduce community-based governance, to define and enforce a SoC, and to expand the number of network operators to make the network clearly independent of any individual or organization. That, to me, is a significant commitment to properly handling legacy. photo credit:
  49. 49. Just like the rest of our patchwork legacy, didn't intend to become the chat network hub of the Perl world, it just happened. Part of what I'm hailing as maturity in the community is the network operators pushing for the community to regulate itself. photo credit:
  50. 50. #magnet-srb Figuring out how this works is going to be a process, probably over a period of months-if-not-years, but another part of maturity is realizing that complicated things can take time to sort out. Come join us and help -- if you care about, you should be paying attention to this.
  51. 51. part the third: Community Consistency Let me back up for a minute. I've been talking about "community" a lot, Perl community, YAPC community. Sort of a misnomer, because we're really a bunch of different related communities -- Dancer, Mojo, #perl, Moose, p5p, YAPC/*PW ! photo credit:
  52. 52. TIMTOWTDCommunity And this is great! We do have some unifying points -- we're all Perl coders, or at least we were at some point -- and we have a lot of common interests, and we share a lot of infrastructure, in, YAPC and Perl workshops, mailing lists. We also share TPF, which funds a lot of this, wholly or partially.
  53. 53. BSCommunityCINABTE I think it's important that this shared infrastructure come with some shared expectations around behavior. So let's talk about SoCs.
  54. 54. Fourth YAPC with same SoC. SoC is essentially the same as the YAPC SoC. ! photo credit:
  55. 55. 3. Expected Behavior Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative. Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech. Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert conference organizers if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress. ! 4. Unacceptable Behavior Unacceptable behaviors include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory or demeaning conduct by any attendees. All YAPC::NA venues may be shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations. ! Harassment includes: offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images (including presentation slides); deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. ! 5. Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior Unacceptable behavior by other attendees, organizers, venue staff, sponsors, or other patrons of YAPC::NA venues will not be tolerated. ! Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately. ! If anyone engages in unacceptable behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate including expulsion from the conference without warning or refund. YAPC Standards of Conduct extracted from
  56. 56. Standards of Conduct Community Policies! ! Reasonable person principle applies. ! • Everyone will be reasonable. • Everyone expects everyone else to be reasonable. • No one is special. • Do not be offended if someone suggests you are not being reasonable. ! Additionally, please take note of the following: ! • Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative. • Alert the staff if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress. • Intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory or demeaning conduct are among the types of unreasonable behaviors deemed to be unacceptable. ! Harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to: offensive comments related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images; deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; sustained disruption of channel activity; unwelcome sexual attention; ignore and/or ban evasion. ! Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately. ! If an individual engages in unacceptable behavior, the opers may take any action they deem appropriate within the bounds of the governance policies. Initial violations or violations believed be unintentional, if not repeated, will likely only result in warnings. Repeated violations or intentional harassment will be meet with increasingly severe responses. ! extracted from
  57. 57. To be perfectly clear: I think this is great. Our communities -- all of them -- need to be welcoming, inclusive, and have clearly defined expectations around behavior. Among the many reasons for this are helping to retain existing community members as well as not repelling potential new ones. photo credit:
  58. 58. here comes the list mom So, along those lines I mentioned in my intro that one of the things I do in the community is moderate a couple mailing lists, perl-beginners and the yapc chat list. Notably, these are both lists that feature a lot of newcomers to our collection of communities. I'm announcing now that these mailing lists will both be adopting the a SoC that is essentially the same as YAPC and photo credit:
  59. 59. I'm also going to take this chance to urge those responsible for other parts of the community -- other mailing lists, shared blog systems, forums, and so on -- to follow suit. This is an important part of our community growing up. photo credit:
  60. 60. I'm also going to call on the TPF to make a commitment to not fund events or projects that don't publish a SoC that is similar to or compatible with the existing SoCs in the Perl world. photo credit:
  61. 61. part the fourth: Community Emigrants photo credit:
  62. 62. part the fourth: Community Expatriates photo credit:
  63. 63. The Perl Diaspora used this on a slide in OPW a few years back you don't remember it because it was the talk right after stevan declared perl dead
  64. 64. #dammitstevan photo credit: rec'd from subject
  65. 65. #dammitstevan Note: early contributor to App::Ack photo credit: rec'd from subject
  66. 66. The Perl Diaspora actually, that's not true, it did stick with one person -- liz gave a very nice talk with this title, talking about different versions, implementations, of the perl language which is a lovely concept, but not at all what i meant
  67. 67. #dammitliz photo credit: author
  68. 68. "Diaspora has come to refer particularly to historical mass dispersions of an involuntary nature…" it turns out that this was probably not the best word for what i meant, really
  69. 69. GAFIA FAFIA Turns out science fiction fandom has a much more appropriate set of words for what we're seeing in the Perl community.
  70. 70. Getting Away From It All Forced Away From It All and they talk about 'gafitates' and 'fafitating' we've been having more of this over the past few years, or at least, that's my impression.
  71. 71. cross-cultural exchange is really really important closed societies don't tend to be all that healthy, and they're really not all that great about coming up with new ideas so some exchange is nice photo credit:
  72. 72. Some influx of new people to accompany the outflow would be nice Which, again, brings us back to the changes in the YAPC programming, the need to have community wide standards of behavior, so that newcomers don't get rapidly alienated, and so forth photo credit:
  73. 73. It would also be nice if we could get some of those expats back, even if just for a conference another reason to rebrand as polyglot (it's easier for them to return if it's clear we want to hear about what they're doing now, not just tell them how they made a mistake) photo credit: speaker
  74. 74. Tell me of your home world, Usul finally, we need to encourage people that are leaving to mention the good with the bad. so many times i meet ex-perl people and all they can talk about is the crappy legacy code they used to have to work on which, to be fair, i too have known the pain of maintaining junky legacy code bases after the original developers have quit photo credit:
  75. 75. #dammitstevan leaving aside the fact that this can happen in any language and it can and it does ! photo credit: rec'd from subject
  76. 76. there's rarely a mention of the good stuff in perl i want to single out one thing in particular no, not CPAN it was great, but honestly, other things have caught up or even surpassed cpan, in some cases yeah, i said it photo credit:
  77. 77. can't touch this but there's one thing that no other language is close to: CPAN testers when coding in other languages, i miss CPAN testers _so_ _much_ and nobody outside Perl has any idea about this great thing our community has built photo credit:
  78. 78. shout shout let it all out If you're involved with CPAN testers -- is anybody _here_ involved? -- you need to be at other conferences. You need to be at OSCON, OSB, PyCon, Gophercon, whatever. ! photo credit:
  79. 79. You need to talk about CPAN testers. And don't tell 'em it's written in Perl, for Perl! Just describe it as a distributed, fault tolerant, self-organizing, volunteer-run, cross-platform continuous integration platform. Mention "volunteer-run" and "free to end users" *a lot*, because setting this stuff up is a huge headache and ... well, I don't mean to shock you, but ... in other communities, people _pay_ for this type of service. photo credit:
  80. 80. So, yeah, just describe it, in neutral terms. Maybe have a screen shot or three, with the logos filed off. And then, at the end of the talk, when people are begging you, "hey, how do we get in on this, how do we test our software with this", *THEN* you tell 'em it's written in Perl, for Perl. And then you... photo credit:
  81. 81. *mic drop* Seriously. The fact that other language communities have not stolen the idea of CPAN Testers from us, is criminal. Expats, those of you already established in other communities, you need to be telling people about CPAN Testers too. photo credit:
  82. 82. part the fifth: Community "Maturation" Now, let's talk about another way we're "maturing" as a community. We're getting older. photo credit:
  83. 83. {{quick age distribution survey}} ! photo credit:
  84. 84. age and guile >> youth and enthusiasm some benefits of getting old * age & guile * already done the stupid stuff and know it's stupid
  85. 85. getting old is not for the weak but there are also some disadvantages to getting old (one or two, anyway)
  86. 86. “It's amazing how much mature wisdom resembles being too tired.” ―Robert A. Heinlein but more than just the physical stuff, it can be hard to separate experienced knowledge from weary cynicism sometimes
  87. 87. worst of all, sometimes familiarity can breed a certain kind of bored contempt or ennui ! photo credit:
  88. 88. So one final -- I hope -- digression. There's a poem I really like, called Ulysses, by Alfred Tennyson. Anybody familiar with it? ! photo credit:
  89. 89. So this poem is about Odysseus, who was the hero of the Iliad and the Odyssey. If you're not familiar with those, basically, in modern terms ... this guy invented the road trip. The word odyssey, in the sense of a long epic trip, is _named_ after him. photo credit:
  90. 90. So, anyway, he's on the road for 20 years, wandering the earth having adventures like Kaine in Kung Fu n'shit, and then he finally makes it back home. The poem is basically about how bored he ends up being, with nothing to do but sit on his throne and rule over his people. photo credit:
  91. 91. cut to the chase, john… The whole thing is kinda long (but good), so I'm only going to read you the end bit, which is the part that's really relevant to my point here. The first part of the poem is largely him complaining about how bored he is, how there's nothing to do, his son is ready to take over the king business, and he'll do a good job ... and Ulysses is old and tired, so really, what is he good for, anyway
  92. 92. Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. photo credit:
  93. 93. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. photo credit:
  94. 94. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. photo credit: photo credit:
  95. 95. I like to read that to myself a few times a year, when the "i've seen this before" and the "there's nothing good to do anymore" feelings start to get to strong, as a reminder: you don't have to stay where you are, you can move on. photo credit:
  96. 96. So this is my final thing I'd like to advocate, and I want to say again, I say this from a place of love for Perl and for YAPC: If you're "mature", or just "mature" in the Perl community, and you're bored, and nothing good seems like it'll ever get done anymore, and the damn kids are messing everything up and nobody understands... photo credit:
  97. 97. consider that it's not us, it's you. Maybe you should consider going for a sail out west, checking out some other communities, seeing if there's something out there that won't be more exciting for you
  98. 98. If you do go, if you decide it's time to GAFIAte from Perl for awhile, that's ok. Just don't forget to write, and don't forget to tell the new people you meet about the good stuff we have here photo credit:
  99. 99. #dammitstevan in addition to the horrible old legacy code and the zombies and all that stuff ! photo credit: rec'd from subject
  100. 100. Perl -- and more importanly, YAPolyglotC -- will be here for you, if and when you're ready to come back and tell us about all the cool new things you've found. ! photo credit:
  101. 101. thanks. thank you for having listened to my tale. the one bad part about being the last talk is that i have the least amount of time to talk to people afterwards, before they leave -- but if you have any feedback for me, i'd love to hear it. safe travels home, everybody. *mic drop*