monday morning pick me up

Nicholas Clark nick at
Mon Apr 3 19:32:55 BST 2006

On Mon, Apr 03, 2006 at 11:11:37AM +0100, Dirk Koopman wrote:
> On Mon, 2006-04-03 at 10:07 +0100, Simon Wistow wrote:

> From my experience companies in this country don't seem to have any
> sense of wanting to support anything. They are looking for solutions to
> problems (else have such solutions sold to them). These solutions have
> to pass through a set of (in my experience) completely arbitrary checks
> of "fitness" (which usually amount to: "have I heard of it"). 

Opps. Digression here - I think that that's also the problem with "perl"
advocacy.  Ruby has been around for a long time but no-one has heard of it.
(Compare with Perl, where even the beggar at Old Street Station noticed my
T-shirt and said "Perl, that's a programming language, isn't it?")  All the
sudden hype is not because Ruby is good, but because Rails is seen as a
solution to a problem - creating excellent web sites rapidly.

(And in turn, what is perceived is not quite the reality (in my under
informed opinion) - 37signals produced some excellent websites and Rails
emerged in the process. But Rails was not cause of the excellence, merely a
great help. I don't think anyone involved in Rails is claiming that it's the
silver bullet that makes excellent websites easy, but that's the feel of the
hype surrounding it)

> The concept of a company becoming "involved" is something quite alien.
> It is too busy raising its profits / dividends / share price to be
> donating money or time to something like perl. It would say something
> like: "that isn't something we do".

I think they'd be correct to say that. Any for-profit company's purpose is
to do just that. How they solve their problem is secondary.

> [and please: don't bother to flame me about the obvious contradictions
> involved in companies being "happy" to spend huge sums of money on
> "maintenance" of "commercial" software every year].

It's not a contradiction at all. Well, maybe only apart from the word "huge".

I'm slightly misremembering what an accountant friend of mine said, but
companies are run on the basis that everything can be valued in terms of
money, and on this basis decisions and trade offs can be made

Specifically at the time she was observing that the axioms used to create the
rules and theories companies are governed by don't cater for the possibility
that maybe employees are motivated by something other than money.  I
extrapolate this to imply that the rules don't really "understand" anything
that isn't expressible with a cash value. Hence open source doesn't fit in,
and isn't easy to comprehend. Whereas commercial software does have a nice
clear price tag, can be valued by conventional means, and therefore isn't
a (conceptual) risk. (Whether it's a value risk is another matter, and
sadly one that isn't considered enough). Additionally by signing a
contract/paying a purchase price, something commercially understood, the
company has this nice warm fuzzy feeling about liability, and whom they might
sue if it all goes wrong. (May not be worth the physical media the contract
is written on)
> > 2. Do you feel that the TPF and the Perl 'cabal' is too US centric? Note 
> > I'm not criticising the sterling work the TPF does, just trying to guage 
> > the vox populi.
> It does nothing for me that I want.

What could it (reasonably) do for you that you would want it to do?

> Perl also seems to be a very difficult language to test "competence"
> in.  

Which seems to be a big problem in designing any meaningful certification

Nicholas Clark

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