Why Python needs to market itself

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.net
Wed Aug 13 12:24:52 CEST 2003

"Brandon J. Van Every" <vanevery at 3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message news:<bhbffp$10oemv$1 at ID-203719.news.uni-berlin.de>...

[The shift of the balance of power from vendor to customer leads to a
shift in technologies employed.]

> Not in the absence of marketing.  Keep in mind, Linux is marketed.

Well, on the client side people may ask for Windows solutions or Linux
solutions, but I doubt that so many customers specifically stipulate
Windows, UNIX or Linux for reasons other than convenience of
maintenance and consistency with the rest of their environment. And
way before Linux was marketed, it was getting through the door because
motivated individuals realised that it could do the job more
conveniently, for less money, and with less hassle.

> > P.S. If you're really interested, there's a marketing/promotion
> > interest group for Python. The details are out there on the Web, so if
> > it's important to you, I'm sure you can dig them out.
> Actually, I would be interested in their opinions of the Python community,
> if they're willing to give them.  And maybe they'd be interested in an
> outsider's perception of the Python community.  It is, after all, people
> like me that have to be sold in order to grow the market.

The way I've seen people convinced is this: you demonstrate some small
solution which does the job; then you tell them that it's written in
Python. If that isn't suddenly a part of a mission-critical system,
they frequently mention how they'd always considered looking at Python
but hadn't done so yet: "Perhaps I should start to learn Python," they
usually say. Most of the time, you demonstrate things that are very
simple in Python but would be a pain with C, C++ or Java, and you let
people realise that they can either spend days hacking on such
problems in the languages they know, or they can learn to work more
effectively. Personally, I made that transition about seven years ago,
and it is a surprise that many people still haven't realised that such
a transition can be made relatively easily.

Of course, you can get hostility, but that's usually down to the fact
that people feel threatened by things they don't know and fear they
won't understand. For them, they feel that it's better to stick to
what they know and be more productive than their peers in that
environment than to make the transition, be more productive than they
were before, but not be seen as an expert by their peers any more.

On the other side of the coin are the people who occasionally post to
comp.lang.python who ask, "Why should I learn Python?" This isn't
restricted to programming languages, either, but it's sound advice to
tell such people that if they know what the benefits of Python are and
how they apply to their situation, then they don't need to be asking
those kinds of questions - they already know the answer and just get
on with it. Otherwise, it isn't interesting to entertain their
questions because their motivation can usually be summarised as, "Am I
too sexy for Python?"

Anyway, raising the awareness of Python probably is a good thing. Big
bucks marketing and developer coercion will, on the other hand, just
alienate the talented and motivated developers. As I said before,
Python's strengths lie in the demonstrated productivity benefits it
offers, and this kind of message will increasingly drown out
superficial product endorsement as the nature of the industry changes.


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