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

Ian Trudel ian.trudel at gmail.com
Tue Apr 27 23:17:54 UTC 2010

2010/4/27 Michael Davies <mykdavies+squeak at gmail.com>:

Hi Michael,

>> 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".

Thank you for the clarification. I am trying to figure out what kind
of perspective our community has in regard to the outside world. It's
difficult not to assume what I wrote when it has been written over and
over that our community is self-serving. For the same reason there is
little documentation, people rarely document things they have
developed for themselves, why would we care about others. Right? ;)

>> 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.

What is your assessment based on? Simple solutions are sometimes the
most effective. It's not about using press releases for every little
thing: we have a shiny new release that can spark interest in a
broader audience. The idea is first and foremost raising awareness.

Let's say a businessman reads an article about Squeak wherever he gets
his news from. Then he may talk about this to his staff. Or, if his
staff talks about Squeak to him, he knows about it. It's much harder
to sell technologies to a boss if he doesn't know a thing about it.

I don't expect a miracle from press releases (and distribute it to
journalists) and it will take time before it pays back but I don't
understand why it would not be implemented - especially when there is
already most of the work done, there is already a press release. It
needs a little brush up for a wider audience, some screenshots, etc.

> 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
> again].

Are you a golfer? :)

> 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.

This is what I am talking about when it comes to the perspective of
our community. It  is self-centered and speculative when it comes to
the outside world. Everybody wants a killer app but the reality says
that we discover an app is a killer app only once it's up and people
adopt it. Let's forget about such things. Plus we don't need to
advertise other projects (eToys, Scratch, Pharo, etc).

How about we have a great programming environment? It's called Squeak.

Clear and simple. Squeak has its own features. Can't we show them off
(screenshots, videos, etc)? Perhaps I don't understand anything you're
writing. :)

Ruby is about as old as Squeak but it seems like Ruby has reached the
moon. It's waving hello to Squeak. We know that Squeak started off as
a far superior programming language and environment. It's important to
understand that our community may have overlook certain aspects and
perhaps even made major mistakes.

> 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.

I think it's a good target audience. What kind of efforts have been
deployed to reach them on the sites you have mentioned? We are a small
community but we could rumble the world if we would work together.

> 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.

Absolutely. It's positive changes.

> 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.

Blogging about Squeak is a good idea but it may have its shortcomings.
For example, Squeak related blogs are unlikely to attract newcomers.
Anyway, I wrote a bit about Squeak on my blog and I certainly did my
part in that respect. Others reading this should consider writing
about Squeak on their blog as well; this is a form of contribution!

> 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.
> Michael

Keep us posted, Michael!


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