TPF and SoC 2007
Tue, 20-Mar-2007 by
A few people have raised questions about TPF's lack of involvement in this
year's Google Summer of Code, wondering if TPF simply decided not to
participate, or if there was more to the story. There is, and I hope this post
will help answer the questions.
The short version: We submitted an application to be a mentoring organization,
but we weren't accepted.
The longer version starts back in 2005, when TPF was part of the first
Summer of Code program. Although I wasn't directly involved in the day-to-day
SoC activities, I remember how upbeat people were about the program; Google was
making a huge show of support for Open Source, and we were glad to be a part
of it. There was a lot of energy and excitement, and everything seemed to be
Things didn't stay so positive, however. There were early mentor/student
communication and coordination issues that, frankly, we just didn't deal with
effectively. While these issues were eventually resolved -- mostly through the
heroic efforts of Curtis Poe (a.k.a., Ovid) -- we never really overcame that
poor first impression. Google was left with a pretty dim view of TPF.
It's fair to say that the only reason we were involved in the 2006 Summer of
Code program at all was because Robert S, a Google employee that also was a
member of TPF, served as a "proxy" for TPF. Robert asked the SoC organizers
directly to allow us to participate, and offered to coordinate. Apart from
Robert, there was actually very little direct TPF involvement in SoC 2006. (I
certainly don't claim that this was a perfect situation, but it did give a
number of students an opportunity to work on interesting projects and
contribute to Perl. It's very unlikely it would've happened otherwise.)
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of assuming that the same thing would happen
again this year, and I was wrong. By the time I learned that, due to other commitments, Robert
wouldn't be able to serve as the TPF / SoC liaison in 2007, we were up against
the deadline. I quickly assembled and submitted an application, knowing that it
was unlikely to be accepted. It wasn't.
I'm sure it's clear by now that I'm not happy about this situation, and I
apologize for letting it happen. While it's not the end of the world, it's
disappointing; SoC is a worthwhile program, with the potential for a lot of
positive exposure for Perl. As difficult as TPF involvement in SoC has often
been, I'd certainly still prefer that we were participating.
Fortunately, the story doesn't end here. Many of the folks that
were gearing up for SoC (both within and outside of TPF) are loathe to just set
that motivation aside, and are exploring alternatives. Whether these
alternatives take the form of an SoC-like program, or something more
appropriate to our community, is under discussion right now. (It's a
discussion I encourage you to join; comments are open.)
So as unhappy as I am about all of this, I'm also hopeful that moving forward
with one or more of these alternatives will result in some very positive
activities in the Perl community. We'll make announcements here soon as these
discussions resolve into specific plans and programs.
Thanks for reading.
Last year I contacted Robert to participate as mentor. My project was not accepted (as expected, as it was quite academic), but I think other projects went running and with interesting results (at least the parrot related ones).
This year it is too late. Probably the best is to forget Google SoC and (if possible) suggest Perl-related projects using other mentoring organizations.
I think we should start thinking on an approach to add TPF back as a mentoring organization for 2008.
So is the title of president just nominal, and no real leadership exists?
Hi Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Commenter,
Could Bill have been more on the ball? Sure. Could *you*? Yup!
Volunteer organization and all that - what comes out is roughly proportional to what comes in.
There are plenty who talk and talk and suggest and suggest and debate and debate ENDLESSLY. Preciously few who actually come and do ANYTHING AT ALL.
TPF should try to become a mentoring organisation in SoC 2008 - definitely! As SoC is a well known event, good Perl projects can mean good publicity.
"Whether these alternatives take the form of an SoC-like program, or something more appropriate to our community, is under discussion right now. (It's a discussion I encourage you to join; comments are open.)" (Bill)
So you think about such a program just for 2007 or for the future?
I don't like the idea of a "TPF-only" program:
*) We have the Grants - that is one ability to work on interesting Perl projects. And that will compete against the other program.
*) The number of people who will notice this program is not that big.
This is a problem that lots of Perl project have. They are well-known in the Perl community but nobody outside the community knows it.
Just my 0.02 EUR