Perl in Universities

A very late comment on a small portion of Brian's remarks to Dave's thoughts on recruitment in December. In a blow to my work productivity, I can now login again so I'll clear out some of the drafts I've had hanging around. I don't need to know why I can now or couldn't before. The Truth is I had real work to do and the Universe was telling me to focus. Collateral damage is unavoidable.

In this post, I make short, tangentially relevant comments on why grabbing Perl mindshare is important and a couple of ways for sneaking it into universities through the back door.

I have no explanation for this

I'm a little concerned that the We have enough is bordering on the complacent. I'm not sure how many exciting COBOL projects are out there. There are enough COBOL programmers and they are paid well, but you'll need a hobby to make life interesting.
- quote from December's draft. Maybe you can enlighten me on what I was thinking.

A recurring wish on the Mojolicious list is for a book, I presume to gather the copious documentation together in a coherent, linear story to show how features work in examples and use cases. The response from the list is always sympathetic, but until someone decides to take on a very large project to produce a substantial body of quality work (because none of us really want to be associated with a 50 pages of half-assed, rambling dross strewn with errors), it will always be just out of reach. Writing for an audience is a different skillset to writing for machines. Unfortunately this is what's required to reach the larger audience who have ideas for products, but don't pore over documentation or crawl through source code. Perl needs great authors as much as it needs great programmers.

What universities teach may not be directly connected to what employers are looking for, but there are more than a few Computer Science researchers in their 40's (and good ones at that) who are still running their data analysis in Pascal, because what they cut their teeth on. Vytas has had some ideas on Perl in Education. Also, Comp Sci is not the only place that programming is used. These people are not going to learn a new language unless they are forced to. Make it your language by giving them the tools to get the job done and get out of the way.

While I was sys admining for a Computer Science department, I took the opportunity afforded by the departmental Library budget. There was always a little money left at the end of the year and each year I suggested 2 or 3 books to improve our offering. By the time I was done, there was a shelf of Perl books and another of other Open Source resources, there just mopping up the remains of the journals and books budget.

The next-next project on my list is to learn more statistics and the Perl tools to solve those problems such as the 500 modules under the Statistics, Math and PDL namespaces. The text that I'm going through has examples and problems in each chapter. My stats-fu will become stronger if I work through those problems, my tool box bigger with scripts that solve each class of problem and, embracing Hubris, publishing those worked examples to the web tells people that Perl is the tool to solve their own problems.

(more than 'nuf said - back to work)

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About Enkidu

user-pic I am a Freelance Scientist** and Perl is my Igor.