Sat Jun 6 02:00:00 2015

State of the Velociraptor - Phase two

Back in 2010, an idea was formed. Rumblings had been emerging from various points of the regular YAPC::NA and YAPC::EU attendees that Larry's keynotes were always perl6-focused and that that was leaving them feeling left out.

Which, well, yeah, of course his keynotes were usually focused on perl6, that was mostly what he was working on.

So rather than see that as a problem, we asked what was the underlying cause - and concluded that the root issue was that there wasn't anything speaking to and for the perl5 community in a similar way, and that it was the imbalance that was leading to people being upset.

The proposed solution was to create a perl5 community keynote that would fill that gap - a 'State-of-the-Onion-but-for-perl5', as it were. After some casting about for a suitable name that would indicate the intent to be a part of what was already going on rather than an attack, I fell across a quote from Larry from some time ago -

perl5 is a velociraptor. What we need now is an acceloraptor.

which I thought was absolutely hilarious, beautifully open to gentle ribbing directed in both directions ("you don't even exist!" ... "you're a dinosaur!" ... etc.) and given velociraptors were pretty much a superb predator of their era, still not really that critical.

So we called it the State of the Velociraptor, with the intent of it being basically "the community, talking to itself" with the person behind the podium just being an interpreter. And that person ended up being, for the moment, me - but I always regarded it as something like Doctor Who, in that I might be the current incarnation but the concept and continuity belonged to the people watching more than to me.

It worked better than I'd hoped, especially since I usually walked the conference floor for the first two days of YAPC::NA then wrote up my slides on the third day so they reflected what I'd been listening to people talk about, what people seemed to be excited about.

(Also I will never forget making it very clear that this wasn't an anti-perl6 thing but a pro-perl5 thing by laying on the compliments about the State of the Onion so thickly that Larry yelled at me to make me stop)

But ... it turns out it's really hard to do basically the same shaped thing every year and actually stay fresh and upbeat and hit the high notes. I think 2013's was probably the last one I can say I was proud of; last year I felt like I was pretty much phoning it in.

Which meant it was time to call in the "just an interpreter" thing, and hand it on.

Fortunately, last year, an obvious candidate for the next era of the State of the Velociraptor became clear, giving a brilliant and uplifting keynote at both YAPC::NA and YAPC::EU which, honestly, felt more like a good SotV to me than the talk I gave under the name did.

This year we're also trying an experiment at YAPC::NA - having a series of lightning talks so 'the state of the community' part is spread over people who're working in various areas - with a compere to hold it together. On the other hand, YAPC::EU will be having a traditional SotV. I've no idea how this will work out, but I look forward to finding out.

But no matter what, it's not my baby anymore ... but it is, I believe, absolutely in safe hands, and the new era is going to be awesome.

So, to finally get to the point, I'd like to both introduce and congratulate the SotV's first regeneration: Sawyer X.

Good luck, sir. You're going to rock.

-- mst, out.