Cultured Perl

Back in about 2008, I set up a group blog called “Cultured Perl”. The idea was to have a blog that concentrated on the Perl community rather than the technical aspects that most Perl bloggers write about most of the time. It didn’t last very long though and after a few posts it quietly died. But the name “Cultured Perl” still appeals to my love of bad puns and I knew I would reuse it at some point.

At YAPC Europe 2010 in Pisa, I gave a lightning talk called Perl Vogue. It talked about the way the Perl modules come into fashion and often go out of fashion again very quickly. I suggested an online Perl magazine which would tell people which modules were fashionable each month. It was a joke, of course (not least because Vogue are famously defensive of their brand.

Over the last many years people have suggested that the Perl community needs to get “out of the echo chamber” and talk to people who aren’t part of the community. For example, instead of posting and answering Perl questions on a Perl-specific web site like Perl Monks, it’s better to do it on a general programming site like Stack Overflow.

Hold those three thoughts. “Cultured Perl”, online Perl magazine, getting out of the echo chamber.

Medium is a very popular blogging site. Many people have moved their blogging there and it’s a great community for writing, sharing and recommending long-form writing. I get a “recommended reading” email from Medium every day and it always contains links to several interesting articles.

Medium has two other features that interest me. Firstly, you can tag posts. So if you write a post about web development using Perl and tag it with “web dev” then it will be seen by anyone who is following the web dev tag. That’s breaking out of the echo chamber.

Secondly, Medium has “publications”. That is, you can bring a set of articles together under your own banner. Publication owners can style their front page in various ways to differentiate it from Medium’s default styling. Readers can subscribe to publications and they will then be notified of every article published in that publication. That’s an online magazine.

So I’ve set up a publication on Medium (called “Cultured Perl” – to complete the set of three ideas). My plan is to publish (or republish) top quality Perl articles so we slowly build a brand outside of the echo chamber where people know they can find all that is best in Perl writing.

If you write about Perl, please consider signing up to Medium, becoming a contributor to Cultured Perl and submitting your articles for publication. I’ll publish the best ones (and, hopefully, work with authors to improve the others so they are good enough to publish).

I’m happy to republish stuff from your other blogs. I’m not suggesting that we suddenly move all Perl blogging to Medium. For example, whenever I publish something on Perl Hacks, the post gets mirrored to a Perl Hacks publication that I set up on Medium earlier this year. There’s a WordPress to Medium plugin that does that automatically for me. There may well be similar tools for other blogging platforms (if you can’t find one for your blog – then Medium has an API so you could  write one).

If you are a reader, then please consider subscribing to Cultured Perl. And please recommend (by clicking on the heart symbol) any articles that you enjoy. The more recommendations that an article gets, the more likely it becomes that Medium will recommend it to other readers.

I have no idea how this will go, but over the next few months I hope to start by publishing four or five articles every week. Perhaps you could start by submitting articles about what a great time you had at YAPC Europe.

Oh, and here are the slides from the lightning talk I used to announce this project at YAPC Europe in Cluj-Napoca, Romania yesterday.


My Sekrit Project

It’s quite possible that over the last year or so you’ve heard me muttering about a secret project that I’ve been working on. Well, this morning I can finally reveal what it is.

Do you ever wish that the Perl community had a centralised blogging site where anyone could set up a blog for free? Something, perhaps, that allows you to use modern blogging features like images in your posts or tags.

If you’ve ever wished for something like that, then can I suggest that you take a look at I think it might be just what you’re looking for.

The site is built using Movable Type and we were lucky enough to get some people from Six Apart to build it for us. I’d like to particularly thank Steve Cook of their professional services division who has done a lot of the actual work. Thanks also go to Jeremy King who designed the site and David Jacobs who is their manager and allowed them to work on the project on company time.

From the Perl community I need to thanks Aaron Crane who is hosting the site and Curtis Poe and Aristotle Pagaltzis who have both been involved in planning this project. Many other people have given invaluable advice or have been early testers of the site. Thanks to everyone who has been involved.

All that remains now is for you to try it out. You should regard it as a beta test version, so some of you will find problems. When you do, please just let me know and we’ll fix them.

I hope you enjoy the site and find it useful.

Update: Yes, there seems to be one quite glaring problem with it. That’s the web server errors that are generated occasionally when someone tries to log in (or out). Seems to be a resource allocation issue with the server. We’re looking into it. Please bear with me.