[squeak-dev] Re: A little 4.1 press coverage

Michael Davies mykdavies+squeak at gmail.com
Tue Apr 27 22:23:23 UTC 2010

On 27 April 2010 22:29, Ian Trudel <ian.trudel at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Michael,
> You have done very well on http://news.squeak.org/ !

Thank you!

> This thread is
> about reaching a broader audience and especially outside Smalltalk
> communities.
> Your premise is clear: one will find great news about Squeak __if they
> are interested in Squeak development__. This may exclude other
> Smalltalk communities and most likely entirely exclude the rest of the
> world.
> I think you have mis-read my post. I mentioned "interest in Squeak
development" as being an important quality for the writer, not for the
audience. I tried to be clear that "I aim to write the articles so that
readers unfamiliar with Squeak can understand what's going on and why it's
of interest".

> Let's bring an hypothesis forth in such effect that most long time
> smalltalkers (5, 10, 20 years) use one dialect and stick to it. There
> will be very little compelling reasons for them to switch or
> contribute to Squeak. They are unlikely to be our target audience.

> People who do not know about Smalltalk nor Squeak are unlikely to land
> on The Weekly Squeak website. Not even the Squeak webiste. As we say
> here, if people don't come to you, go to them. This is where a press
> release for the layman (or in the programming world) with screenshots
> and so on should come. Something to be sent to news site all around
> the globe. Some reporters will take on the story, some will not, but
> it's worth the try.
> Summary: We need to raise "product awareness" (Squeak) around the
> world before hoping anybody will read The Weekly News or use Squeak.

I absolutely agree with your summary, but I think it's only very
infrequently that press releases will be the most productive way to do so.

If you want to promote the use of Squeak, you need to find people with a
Squeak-shaped hole in their lives, help them recognise that the hole exists,
convince them that Squeak can fill the hole, and make filling that hole as
enjoyable as possible [note to self, never use this uncomfortable metaphor

To be honest, very little of what happens in Squeak is relevant to a wide
audience. Some audiences can be identified though: some work at the VM level
is of interest to computer scientists, some of the tools like Seaside can
interest other developers, re-licensing discussions always agitate the Free
Software community, but there are very few pieces of work like Etoys,
Scratch, DrGeo that can excite a wider, less technical audience.

My opinion is that the audience that is easiest to bring to Squeak is the
young enthusiastic CS students and developers that populate digg, Reddit,
Hacker News, Slashdot, Stack Overflow and a plethora of other sites, and
skim-read a hundred different RSS feeds. You don't gain their attention by
issuing a press release, but by posting something "cool" that will get
re-posted, linked and tweeted, and cause a horde of readers to visit your
site. Admittedly most of them will go "huh", and carry on trying to finish
reading the internet (though hopefully with a slightly better opinion of
Squeak and Smalltalk), but maybe if they're bored and it's made a no-brainer
process they'll download Squeak, and learn a bit more about it.

The new UI work and the increasing use of "one-click images" get rid of two
of the obstacles that have put many of these casual browsers off trying
Squeak; the ongoing work on in-image documentation will make it easier for
them to work out what the hell they've just downloaded.

So, the missing piece is to attract this audience to Squeak in the first
place - my advice would be "write blog posts". If you've applied an obscure
algorithm to allow you to cut 10% off file access times, write a blog post
explaining how you arrived at it; if there's a debate about how to implement
system-wide menus, write a post describing the alternative approaches; if
you've written a great Fizz-Buzz one-liner, blog about it; if you've written
a Seaside application that uses the Flickr API to generate an HTML-5
crowd-sourced lolcat mashup, blog about it and watch your server collapse
under the load.

And then tweet about it https://twitter.com/#search?q=%23squeak so we can
all contribute information and correct misunderstandings in the discussions
when it gets picked up on the main sites.

I need to go and lie down now, I've had a rush of Web 2.0 blood to the head.

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