Monday, April 13, 2009


I've been getting my feet wet in PSF world a little, thanks to Ian's new user group concepts. Parents like seeing what junior might be doing at summer camp, maybe take a few lessons, maybe volunteer, and the user group is traditionally open, though we're not that used to hosting kids. They'll need guardians. I forget how it worked with BarCamp where Ki Master George sold me a T-shirt that time, still below drinking age.

Of course I'm thinking ahead to the various coffee shop venues, where people might want to give lightning talks on a small stage, flanked by flatscreens, a kind of proto Pycon, more like karaoke, in terms of facing an audience. Open mic around open source? Why not? Already the status quo in thriving geek subcultures.

Show & Tell is a primitive genre, no reason to suddenly end it (like, there it is in elementary school, so where does it go? YouTube to the rescue in some cases).

My input, as non-board, non-executive voter, was simply to circle what I would call "the turf" (that which PSF protects): the website, conferences, user groups, and of course the purity of the code offerings themselves.

It's possible to hack an MD5 check I think (remembering a CRIME meeting at the zoo, HPD's George Heuston officiating), meaning you'll want some other checks as well (Python passes lots of tests, but how do you know which are the right ones).

Historically, I don't think counterfeit Pythons have been much of a problem, but with the success of any open source scripting language, you might get wannabe web sites with non-standard interpreters. At least the labeling needs to be clear. You always want to know: what's in the bottle. The PSF meeting at Pycon resolved to control the branding, in part to guard against precisely this contingency (case studies were mentioned).

To "protect" is also to nurture and grow, to enable to thrive, so I'm glad Vern Ceder is looking into Steve's idea of moving towards ISEF a little (the science fair motif), in terms of opening the floor to champions still in the schools, without employer compensation, yet who might get to exhibit, even if only in absentia, if only the right sponsors could find them.

Publishers need their poster children much as Nike needs star athletes to market sportswear. In saying "publishers" I'm not discounting colleges and universities, some with their own presses, some without. Having a cast is another way to value-add. Having your decals on a player says something about whom you value as an MVP. Brands use this to differentiate, niche market, B2B as much as B2C.

In floating the idea of a televised user group, I'm not seeking to compete with the many Internet venues. TV is still a distinct distribution medium in many ways, with its own set of protocols (PAL, NTSC). Yes, I'm aware of the direct to DVD option.

The point is, once we're able to edit more freely, we don't have to get it all with one take. On the other hand, presenters may not have the luxury of retakes either, so it's still "reality TV" in that sense (cameras get to visit the circus, but then the show must go on regardless, can't always slow down or repeat just because it's being recorded).

Of course Mickey Mouse Club is a model, even though I never watched it much (was out of the country). Everyone seems to know about it, if older than a certain age. Pee Wee Herman was more demented, frenetic, which might "play better in Baghdad" as they say. George (GW) running through with the reputedly rubber turkey was kind of like that -- made for TV, live action. Also "porno press guy" was pretty demented (this source says he had access to that Valarie Plame memo, for shame).

Anyway, Monty Python is the more logical source to turn to in our case, where much of the comedy comes from in the first place. I've offered a few skits, pitched various mathcasts (4D Studios work). I'd like to contribute more to such efforts, and not just around Python. There's all that "Bucky stuff" we're into, feeding out through commercials and so on. Heard of any good Quaker beers lately?

A more family-friendly EduPycon might also materialize (less strictly business), perhaps in a campus setting (like Pacific University's, or like Reed's -- to pick good local examples). A lot depends on how many faculty adopt Python for their schools. She plays well with others, Python does, like with Java and C++. To bring Python in doesn't mean kicking anyone out, unless disk space is really that much of a problem -- it usually isn't these days.