[python-advocacy] Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Jeff Rush jeff at taupro.com
Sat Mar 11 05:21:59 EST 2006


Cameron Laird wrote:
> 
> What's the goal(s) of advocacy among these acquaintances?
> Do people want Python to smash False Languages and frighten
> heretics?  Do corporate developers want an easier time when
> they say to their bosses, "Sure, it's already done; I used
> Python"?  Do they want "Python" as a resume entry to have
> higher standing with Human Resource departments?

Corporate use was only one aspect, and not one I'd like to see dominate the 
conversation.  It's not all about "getting a Python job".  There were 
several audiences:

1. The above mentioned corporate use, focused on "how do I convince mgmt to 
let me use my favorite tool?"

2. Corporate again, but directed at the professional C++/Java programmer to 
get him to appreciate the value of dynamic languages.  Also those advanced 
programmers who enjoy advanced levels of algorithm design and language 
features i.e. the Alex Martinelli's of the world.

3. University people; seeding the college scene to get students to form 
on-campus Python user groups, and lobbying the professors to give Python 
airtime in classes.  Whether A -> B or B -> A is an open debate.  At PyCon 
it was offered that until Python appears in the curriculum students won't 
use it because they only want to learn skills with vocational value, and so 
professors must drive the issue.  Others thought the students were in a good 
position to lobby their school to teach Python, if not for credit then 
evening talks and non-credit courses.

4. This category got little coverage but I think it is key -- that of the 
hobbyists or enthusiast.  Here at the Dallas Pythoneers, I run into a lot of 
people who want to learn Python, are not professional programmers but still 
skilled professionals in some field who want to learn something fun and 
potentially useful.  This might also be the category for scientists and 
(non-computer) engineers -- smart, professional but don't program for a living.


> How will we know when to declare victory?

Advocacy of any topic is not a hard-and-fast finish, but there are progress 
markers:

1) An info kit for reaching out to non-programmers, showing what Python is 
and why it is fun (some neat algorithms or example of a game; NOT 
necessarily web-related).  Something with slides and perhaps a take-away 
paper for a 30-min or 60-min talk that any local club member could present.

2) An info kit for developers to give upper mgmt, that contrasts Python with 
  Java and other competitors, that addresses licensing issues and the job 
market for Python programmers.  Also success stories, but it needs to have a 
story that flows, not just a list of quotes.  This should be a PDF on 
python.org, along with a powerpoint presentation.

3) A starter kit for Python user groups that offers ideas on finding 
members, how to run meetings, how to find speakers.  We also need that 
registry of available Python speakers, organized by region, with pricing or 
free.  This kit should also have a section for addressing the college scene.

4) An info kit for key students to give their professors, outlining what 
Python is (so many haven't even heard of it) and why it is educationally and 
vocationally relevant today.

5) Some canned talks on Python topics that user groups can use to seed their 
presentation queue.  Given a talk on Python something before?  Are your 
slides reasonably clear?  Donate it to the cause.  License people to 
slice-and-dice your slides to create new talks.

6) A growing collection of open-licensed pod and screen casts, especially 
for those people in remote areas that cannot easily form a face-to-face 
users group.  This allows them to virtually attend meetings until they reach 
critical mass.

7) A collection of Python-related T-shirt/button/other swag logos and 
sayings, that are -freely licensed-.  Some user groups may do a group 
purchase and produce T-shirts for their members, especially students. 
T-shirts are a powerful advertising channel.  Imagine 20 students wearing 
"Ask Me About Python".

8) A concisely designed business card with keywords/concepts about Python 
and links to base Python resources.  When you meet someone unexpectedly, as 
the PyCon planners did in Dallas at Denny's diner one late night, after 
preaching Python you can give them the card for follow-up and remembering 
the morning after.  Allow local user groups to put their name/URLs on the back.

I also think making some freely available CDROMs, similar to Knoppix, that 
contains a bootable Python interpreter, docs, ebooks, some sample code for 
those who want to run-and-go in trying it out.  I continually run into 
people who lose interest in Python because they can't get the Python 2.4 
(and they always want the latest because they think its better) installed 
into the system -- it has an older version and they spend weeks either 
erroneously upgrading or trying to get them to co-exist.  And then more 
weeks installing sqlite, numeric or some package they want to play with. 
There is some project to make a usable Python setup on a USB fob, that 
perhaps we could leverage but I can't remember the name offhand.  Some of 
the Python IDE vendors could bundle demo packages on that CDROM/Flash.

I can also see us developing some roadmaps, decision trees for helping 
people get started in certain areas of Python -- gaming/audio, 
scipy/rationals, etc.  I often hear "I didn't know Python could do X."

The registry of speakers is also important because I have several 
opportunities here for speakers and not enough people to fill them.  The 
Dallas PHP Users would like someone come and talk about how Python web 
creation compares to PHP.  The Dallas .NET Users Group wants a speaker to 
come talk about Python and .NET.  This 200-strong user group has never heard 
that Python can talk .NET.  They were surprised and excited.  The Apple User 
Group also wants someone to talk about Python and OSX.

I'm sure there are similar speaking opportunities in other towns, and 
speakers just looking for opportunities.  Want to get started in 
professional training or get your foot in the door for a job or contract 
position?  Give a presentation.  If we provide a global registry, I think 
those speakers will come out of the woodwork.  It should be a part of 
python.org.

The Linux community has also benefited greatly from "install fests" in 
converting toe-dippers.  Some printed guidelines on how to get Python 
packages installed on the various platforms would be useful.  People ask 
whether to use a source release or a package, and which version?

Lots of ideas and others have many more than I.  But it takes volunteer 
energy and a few resources re web space and such, with easy-to-find URLs and 
mentions in podcasts, newsletters and such.  And perhaps some 
leadership/funding from the PSF as well as, in some cases above, a dynamic 
content and database solution on python.org.

I seriously believe that the Python star is accelerating, that Python is 
poised to become the dominant language in key sectors over the next five 
years.  It's why I started the DFW Pythoneers, why I invested so much energy 
into PyCon this year, and why I hope to see the Python community come 
together and surprise many with its come-from-nowhere flash finish.  There 
are some key Python technologies just now arising, such as eggs and and 
components and PyPy and ..., and we need to get the message out re this cool 
stuff we're grinning about.

-Jeff


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