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23 Years of Culture Hacking With Perl 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-its-prime dept.
Modern Perl writes "Larry Wall, the creator of Perl, reflects on Perl's history of hacking its culture, from subverting the reductionist culture of Unix to reinventing the ideas of programming language and culture in Perl 6 and the verbal aikido used to encourage honest detractors to become valuable contributors. Perl turned 23 years old last week, and Perl 6 is available."
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23 Years of Culture Hacking With Perl

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  • I love Perl, but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2010 @05:12PM (#34662000)

    The thing that kills me about the Perl culture is that the delusions of what things mean to the non-Perl world.

    This article is yet another example of that. Larry writes about Camelia representing so many points, which sound fantastic but are complete bollocks. Perl6.org, and specifically Camelia, do not say "fun", or anything about sterile environments or anything about clarity.

    What it says is that in 23 years, the old Perl guard still hasn't figured out that making something that looks completely stupid makes people think you are completely stupid.

    Everything looks completely stupid that comes out of Perl6.

    Nobody really even knows what Perl6 is (even O'Reilly) and then randomly people point out Rakudo Star. This looks like the community is fractured (which it isn't, but it looks that way at a glance, which is all people are getting.)

    I'm saying all this as a Perl hacker. I do love Perl, I think it's great, but all of this is basically turning Perl into something like Furries. The people involved seem to not think there is anything wrong, but every other person in the world makes faces at them.

    I can't imagine being involved in that good thing Scala really is all those things Larry wishes Camelia represents.

  • by BitHive (578094) on Friday December 24, 2010 @05:17PM (#34662026) Homepage

    I suppose I learned a lot about the Perl community though.

  • by toby (759) on Friday December 24, 2010 @05:39PM (#34662132) Homepage Journal
    That /. is written in Perl.
  • by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:01PM (#34662508) Homepage Journal
    What I appreciate most about Perl and C is the stability and culture. It is not just a hype which _might_ be around in 10 years. It is one of the languages, which will persist, it is a language I can rely on, just because experience has shown me that. In a rapidly evolving time, it is good to have some things which persist.
  • by grcumb (781340) on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:19PM (#34662564) Homepage Journal

    I suppose I learned a lot about the Perl community though.

    Larry may sound glib most of the time, but if you took the time to look, you'd see method in his madness. He chooses to make his points lightly, because that's an important part of the message. Perl as a language is designed to reflect the idiosyncrasies of the human brain. It treats dogmatism as damage and routes around it. As Larry wrote, it is trollish in its nature. But its friendly, playful brand of trollishness is what allows it to continue to evolve as a culture.

    Strip away the thin veneer of sillyness and you'll see that everything I've written has been lifted directly from Larry's missive. Just because he likes to act a little silly doesn't mean he's wrong.

    One of the worst things a programmer can do is invest too much ego, pride or seriousness in his work. That is the path to painfully over-engineered, theoretically correct but practically useless software that often can't survive a single revision. Perl as a language isn't immune to any of these sins, but as a culture, it goes to some lengths to mitigate against them.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday December 24, 2010 @09:11PM (#34663176) Journal

    Don't be too hard on the recruiter. All his training puts the highest priorities on "skills", and very specific experiences. He wouldn't know a great coder from a good liar who feels that spreadsheet macros are his limit. A person like that shouldn't have been given the job of screening applicants. It's not his fault, it's the fault of management for delegating this crucial function to someone who lacks the background to judge the technical merits of applicants. What tools he has left for making judgments are weak, but it's all he has, so he uses them.

    And it's all our faults for focusing far too much on specific languages. We all know that anyone who is good at several programming languages is not going to have a problem picking up a new one. Even programming paradigms are not the big deal they make them out to be. OOP and Functional Programming are not that profound or mysterious. Lot of what is being called functional programming is actually modular programming. But you can't tell any of that to the interviewers. Have to tailor your resume and give yourself a crash course on whatever it is they say they want so you can answer the trivia questions they're using to screen people. I use Perl, but I sure don't have something like all the operators memorized. That's what a reference manual is for, and I have found the Camel book an excellent one.

    It never ceases to amaze me that so many companies treat the search for talent as little more than a rigged lottery. Head hunting agencies are even worse. They come up with the craziest, completely subjective, off-the-wall reasons for rejecting people, and then complain that they can't find talent. "Learning on the job" is so pre 1980. "Hit the ground running" or "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out" is the way things have been for a long time now. And they don't want competence alone. Many also seek signs that their choice won't leave, and can be pressured to work harder, maybe has something in the closet that shows he understands the "realities" of doing business and so will not make any trouble for management, by, say, doing any whistleblowing. They want a contradiction-- competence at the job, and incompetence at personal finances so that the employee cannot leave without losing everything. Makes the employee more "reliable".

    Cue the job postings for 5 years of experience in Perl 6.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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