[pdx.st] Smalltalk foundation meeting

Paul DeBruicker pdebruic at gmail.com
Tue Nov 11 08:59:12 PST 2014

Hi - 

I got home and saw that earlier in the day there was a discussion about the C2 wiki article "If Smaltalk Is So Good Why Does Nobody Use It"  (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?IfSmalltalkIsSoGoodWhyDoesNobodyUseIt (aside: I wish the C2 wiki had timestamps on comments)) on Hacker News (discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8584189).   The discussion demonstrates that in the Hacker News community there is a curiosity but also a lack of knowledge about Smalltalk.  None of the 50+ comments are from a person working in Smalltalk today.

So I think the marketing efforts the Smalltalk Foundation are going to implement are timely.  

I was thinking about some things the foundation could do that would not take any cash (but would take some time) to help people deciding whether to learn/adopt Smalltalk or not.  You've probably thought of them already but here goes:

	1. Compile industry wide stats on # of developers using smalltalk and their average salary bucketed by years of experience & update those stats bi-annually.  Include all the developers you can find.  A person evaluating which language to learn/adopt can today go on monster.com (or whatever job board) and compile that data in a few hours for their languages of interest but could not do the same for Smalltalk. They could at least get an idea of the dollar cost/benefit of adopting the technology. I get that there are companies involved that do not, yet, want to share that info publicly.  But without having the information available the people deciding what language to use may decide that there is either nothing there (no users) or the stats are so embarrassing that they should not be shared.  

	2.  On the website compile a list of all of the whiz-bang benefits a developer or business gets by using Smalltalk and juxtapose them against other modern language ecosystems.  Make it plain as day what the feature is, why it is important from a business enterprise value creation perspective, and why Smalltalk is better at it than language X.  As the platform vendors get objections in their efforts to sell into new customers they can both point to the list and update it with new objections/responses.  I also think you need to demonstrate plainly how Smalltalk is a good citizen in a multi-language environment and that it interacts well with the other language ecosystems.   I think people don't adopt Smalltalk because they are uncertain about its cash cost, ecosystem, and future. Not because the Smalltalk langauge can't do X or Y.  (isn't there a saying "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" ?).    I think you need to make the case to neophytes that they will be happy they took the risk.  

	3.  Define & develop a series of certifications a person could earn to show to employers that they have a level of competency in Smalltalk.  Chuck relayed his clients lament about the lack of a US university course.  I think you should stop waiting on others to teach 30 college aged kids per year to learn Smalltalk.  Build a certification program that can be self study or used in a company setting while on-boarding new developer hires that gets a person productively using Smalltalk.  Make the certification free & platform agnostic.  Add optional platform specific modules (E.g. Advanced GemStone ) if it helps you raise $$ from Smalltalk companies to support the foundations efforts.  Google offers free certifications in AdWords (https://support.google.com/partners/answer/3154326?hl=en&ref_topic=3203989), AdSense and their Analytics platforms that companies hiring consultants can use to ensure they get someone at least somewhat competent in the service rather than charlatans.  

Ok so there are three big things for an Industry Foundation to lead.

Good luck


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