David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Perl Developers Are More Social Than Other Developers

Question: How do Perl developers differ from developers of other languages? 

Larry Wall:  I think by and large Perl developers are more social; they really believe in community in the way that many other developers do not.  I'd like to think that I've encouraged some of that by my talks and by trying to show by example.

But really, I think they think of themselves as artists.  Perl is  not really so much a way of trying to think like the computer, which most other languages tend to encourage, but it's more like an artistic medium, and it's a set of paints and a canvas that you're allowed to sort of do whatever you like and try to please the other people.  And the only judge of whether something is good or bad in the Perl community is whether the rest of the community likes it or not.  But people are really, really motivated by this and Perl has more shared software, shared modules, that people put out there for other people to use, than any other computer language.  There's about 18,000 modules, last I counted—well, I didn't count them, I just looked at the number—and, like any collection of programs or any collection of anything else, they all follow what's known as Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crud.  But of that 10%, there's just a wonderful selection of ways to get your job done, things that are just crazy.  Let's you program in Latin, they let you program in white space, so you look at your program, and it's just spaces and tabs and you can't see it at all.  It's just lots of fun stuff.

The Perl culture is a culture of fun and we really encourage that and do not think that it is in any way counter to the notion of doing good work.  Fun seems to be something you're not allowed to have in a lot of modern, corporate culture and we think that—maybe this is another one of those post-modern things—you can have fun and do good work at the same time. We really believe that.

Question: Will you appoint a successor to take over Perl?

Larry Wall:  I've thought about that from time to time and generally when I think about who I would appoint as a successor, I don't generally tell anybody and usually by five years later, it would be someone else.  And I don't think there's anyone who thinks quite like me, so I think that really has to be something that needs to be figured out by the community if I get run over by a bus.

I think that I have managed to pass along a number of the principles by which Perl has been designed that even if one person emphasizes this aspect of the design and another person emphasizes a different aspect, they'll be able to work that out.  Hopefully not the way that the four generals worked it out after Alexander The Great.  But I trust the Perl community to do what's good for the Perl community.

Question: Have you made any money from Perl?

Larry Wall:  Well, that depends on how you define it.  I get a few book royalties, but it's not really enough to make a living.  I have received a few grants over my life, but that's also not enough to make a living.  I would say that the real way in which I have benefited from Perl is the way in which many open source authors or creators benefit, and that is that some company will be willing to hire them just to work on that.  So in a sense, I have my current job because of Perl, and I am mostly expected to work on Perl, and also advise them in things that are related to that.

But in a sense, my job is remuneration for that.  They're not going to make a movie out of Perl, this notwithstanding, so I don't expect to have a Harry Potter on my hands. But I'm comfortably well off because of Perl.

There's one other way in which I have actually made some money from Perl.  That's some number of years ago, Yahoo was about to go public and they said, "Hey, we used Perl heavily in everything we developed here, so would you like to buy some pre-IPO stock?"  And I said, "Yeah, sure."  And so I bought a little bit of that stock and that turned out over the years to pay for all my kids' college expenses.  So that sort of thing happens every now and then.  It was very nice to not have to worry about how to pay for their college.

"Perl culture is a culture of fun; we really encourage that and do not think that it is in any way counter to the notion of doing good work," says Wall

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

  • From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
  • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
  • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

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Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
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Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

Image: metamorworks / Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
  • More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
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