I joined the Apache project for the software. I stayed for the community. Likewise Perl. The software is interesting, but the people are more interesting. So now that I'm really not even writing much Perl, I'm still involved with the community, to some degree, because they are cool people.
I’ve been working with Perl for just about 10 years now, and though I’ve been a bit of a stranger lately, I used to be a regular on #perl on several IRC networks. And, when companies I worked for paid for travel as freely as for paper clips, I made rounds at a few conferences. I was lucky enough to meet a few other #perl regulars. I doubt most of them remember me since they‘re a fairly close-nit group, and I’d only made the one appearance, despite constantly swearing I’d make it to a YAPC at some point. But I always thought it was cool as hell to actually have had a beer at the same table in Boston with authors of some of my favorite O‘Reilly perl books.
<p>But, I got busy, stopped hanging out in <span class="caps">IRC</span> so much, and also decided that I needed to expand my horizons and stop being so narrowly focused on one language. I got into Java, Python, shell scripting, and <span class="caps">PHP</span>. I started this weblog, and I tried to purposefully keep away from Perl. Of course, I can’t stay away, because Perl code comes out of my fingertips as naturally as breathing when a problem presents itself for solution.</p>
<p>And then there’s community. I’ve yet to find a Java community as quirky and entertaining as that surrounding Perl. Thus, Java bores me. I use it, but it’s strictly business, mostly.</p>
<p>When what you‘re doing <strong>is</strong> strictly business, I guess that’s desirable. But when you eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff, having a group of people constantly doing clever things and being odd certainly makes it more rewarding. It’s predictability versus creativity. To get the job done, you want solid and dependable tools. To have fun, you want some challenge and unexpected results.</p>
<p>To me, Perl and its community offers both. I think Python might, also, but I’m not as familiar there. Java and other technologies are mostly business. Maybe this also crosses over into the difference between IT people and CS people, and whether you‘re here to work or here to play and get paid.</p>