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Thu, 04 Aug 2005
OSCON Tutorials Day 2

First up today, Alex Russell's Learning AJAX tutorial. The tutorial has a ton of people in it. Alex has been given a tough assignment -- the topic is really hot at the moment, which means that the skill level of the audience varies widely, which makes it hard to do a talk that will capture everybody's interest for the entire time. I fell more on the advanced end of the spectrum, so the talk didn't get really interesting for me until he started showing the way that the various toolkits reduce the amount of work that you have to do. I was impressed with what I saw of Dojo, so between the tutorials and some long talks with Alex, I'll definitely be looking at it more closely. I was please to find out that Dojo and Bob Ippolito's MochiKit are complementary.

I went to Kathy Sierra's Creating Passionate Users tutorial. Kathy has a great blog, and I've been learning a bit more about the Head First book series from fellow Bainbridge Islanders Eric and Beth Freeman, so I was well primed for the session. The topics that Kathy covered are related not just to creating passionate users of products, but creating communities and to education. We spent a lot of time in hands on exercises designed to get us thinking about what makes people passionate. Along the way, we heard stories about specific instances of passionate users, lots about brain and learning theory, and a bit on video game design. The goal is to keep people advancing along an experience spiral because this impacts how people feel about themselves, which is the key to creating passion. Passion begets a number of desirable outcomes, including community. By the end of the presentation I was thinking, "I rule!" (in what dimension, you'll have to guess), which is how I'm supposed to feel as a passionate user. I found the material to be highly relevant to building community in open source projects, and to home schooling. If you get the chance, you should take Kathy's tutorial. I think that Kathy is working on a book -- but the experience will always be preferable to the book.

Tuesday night has the traditional evening extravaganza, which included a bunch of awards to various folks, and presentations by Larry Wall, Paul Graham, and Damien Conway. This is the first time that I saw the entire thing -- last year I just saw Paul Graham.

I knew but had forgotten that Larry Wall's kids are homeschooled, but I have yet to get up the courage to go and talk to him about that. The most interesting bit of information from Larry's talk is that the Pugs project appears to be the choice for the compiler for Perl 6. At least, I think that's what he said, because it was a little difficult to separate the information bits from the humor bits.

Nat Torkington said the Paul Graham's presentation this year was going to be controversial, but I didn't find it to be very controversial. Of course, I didn't find last year's presentation to be controversial either. I could try to summarize the key points, but it's sort of pointless to do so since you can go read it for yourself. My experiences with open source and blogger agree with his conclusions.

Damien Conway has a kind of demigod status here at OSCON, and you can understand why. His talk on dead languages was creative and incredibly funny. Even I had to laugh when he declared Lisp to be dead and then displayed the names of various languages in font sizes proportionate to their market share. The slide showed Lisp as a small dot, and you could see the D of Delphi (the next language up) looking just huge on the projector. I do have to say that I have to respect some that can contort Perl to obey Latin's nonpositional grammar rules. The humor that is prominently on display at OSCON seems to be a hallmark of the Perl community. You can tell that these people are passionate.

[01:08] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 5 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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