How to announce an event, or, awesome is not always self-evident

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Which of these two events sounds more interesting?

Joe Celko is going to be giving talks at YAPC this summer.

Or, in an announcement entitled "Learn Mad Database Skillz at YAPC::NA 2009"

It really, truly pays to learn the ins and outs of SQL, just like any other language. And if you’re a Perl hacker, you have a great opportunity to do just that at YAPC::NA 10 this summer. Famed SQL expert Joe Celko, author of numerous volumes on SQL syntax and techniques, will be offering two classes on SQL at YAPC:

That first announcement is usually what I get when people ask me to announce something in Perlbuzz. "Hey, we're having the East Podunk Perlapalooza next week." Yeah, so? Who cares? Why will Perlbuzz readers care?

David Wheeler, author of the latter text, understands what most geeks seem not to grasp: The mere existence of your Foo is not enough for people to be interested. Look at all the topics that David covers, to encourage interest from as wide a range of people as possible.

  • What YAPC is.
  • Who Joe Celko is.
  • Joe Celko's body of work.
  • Why we still need to know SQL in the age of ORMs.

I was reminded of this while going through Chad Fowler's excellent The Passionate Programmer in preparation for our webcast "Radical Career Success in a Down Economy" next week. One of Chad's big points is "Your skills are not self-evident." It's not enough to do great work at work, but you must also let people know about what you've done, specifically your boss. The same is true of your open source projects.

Why do people use ack? It's useful, but how do people know about it? I talk about it, and I tell people why they should use it on its home page, in a section called "Top 10 reasons you should use ack."

If someone asks you about your project, can you explain its awesomeness, and why he should use it? If not, why are you bothering? And if you can, are telling everyone you can about it? If not, why are you bothering?

For more on writing interesting announcements, please see the Perlbuzz How to contribute page.

4 Comments

This is my favorite PerlBuzz post ever! :-)

—Theory

Andy, you continue to be my hero specifically for articles like this. You have a way of saying things that *should* be obvious, but that everybody forgets about, and saying them in ways that both make them seem like Great Truths, and don't make us feel like complete idiots. Some day, I'd like to write as plainly as you.

Nice post. I am curious why in the wecast intro your bio does not mention Perl while Chad Fowler's one does mention Ruby and Rails?

Re: Rails but no Perl

Because Chad's stock bio that he mailed in talks about Ruby, but my stock bio doesn't.

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