Eligo interviews Mark from the London Perl Workshop


Technology, Open Source, Perl...

On Saturday the 3rd of December, Eligo Technology will be exhibiting at The London Perl Workshop, the UK’s number one Perl conference dedicated to all things Perl.

‘Changes’ is the chosen theme for this year’s conference, not only addressing 2016 as the year Perl6 is starting to make changes, but also changes behind the scenes at LPW. Mark Keating has been the solo chief organiser for the conference for 10 years and this year he has decided to step down from his role. In honour of his 10th year at the helm of the London Perl Workshop, we spoke to Mark to get his insight of the conference over the years and what’s in store for Saturday.


What have you enjoyed most about organising and being involved with the London Perl Workshop?

The people and the Perl community are what I enjoy most about LPW, people are grateful for the event and I’m always thanked for organising it remotely. In the first few years of LPW I was always asked ‘will you be back next year?’ and people are thankful for keeping it going each year. It really is the people that attend that keep it going, from writing and presenting to attending the talks and workshops.

Attendees are always willing to help and give their time to the London Perl Workshop, which takes a lot of stress away from the day, and it shows people are generally happy to attend. In its first year, there were 100 attendees to LPW and the most popular year was 2014 with over 300 attendees. There has been a slight decline over the years and we are hoping to see 150-200 Perl enthusiasts attend LPW on Saturday.

The event itself is a formula and eventually they stagnate, and communities like anything else need energising and constant fresh input. The idea of getting a new team to organise LPW is to give it a new energy and hopefully take it forward to good things.


What’s in store for this year’s event? What speaker are you most looking forward to seeing?

There are lots of workshops on this year, and if you are a beginner to Perl and the community Andrew Solomon will be giving a ‘Crash course on Perl’, the universe and everything’. This is a perfect hands-on training session for Perl beginners, from “Hello World” to experimentation he will be teaching Perl 5 and how to use it for everything from scripts to web services.

I am also looking forward to a talk by Dave Cross, who will be giving us a run through of what has changed in Perl in the last 5 years. Whilst the workshops and presentations are good value, I would also recommend the lighting talks. Where I will also be giving a short speech, saying thank you to those that have helped me over the years and handing over the reins to the new Perl organisers.

I would love to attend all the talks and workshops, but every year I find my time taken up from organising the day, meeting and talking to people throughout the event. I am quite looking forward to next year where I can attend as many workshops as I like, and find a good space in the crowd to heckle.


From your time at The London Perl Workshop and being involved with the Perl community what are your most memorable moments?

There are many memorable stories from over the years, LPWbut the most unforgettable moment for me had to be when the Perl community came together to present me with the Silver Camel Award. The White Camel Award recognises significant contributions made by individuals in the Perl community and being a committee member on the Perl Foundation I am not eligible to win. So the fantastic Perl community came together and presented me with the Silver Camel Award and I still can’t put into words how grateful I am for receiving such an honour!

One of my most favourite LPW talks of all time is Dave Cross’s ‘The Perl Community- A modest proposal’. Where he proposed the Perl community form a secret and exclusive club ‘the Perl Masons’ who would meet underground, with a secret handshake and ultimately increase the Perl community’s cool factor.

One memory that stands out for me is the way that I was introduced into organising the LPW. The only way to describe it is like a drive-by mugging. In 2007, the organiser of London Perl Workshop at the time, Greg Carroll, asked for my help with the event. I was slightly unsure of this prospect as I had not organised an event before, and as soon as I agreed to help Greg left me to it! 10 years later and here I am! Greg has sadly passed away since and he was a great friend and was always good at finding people he knew could get the job done.


What advice would you give to future Perl developers that are new to the community and LPW?

One piece of advice that I would give to new developers attending LPW for the first time and becoming involved with the community is simple – don’t forget to have fun! You will ultimately suffer if you don’t find the fun in it and the community will always pick up on that. It’s hard to be full of energy with such a long day ahead, but be energetic and have fun. People respond to the amount of energy you have, and then others find it’s hard not to be enthusiastic.


Life after LPW: What are your plans for the future in terms of Perl?

My task of organising the London Perl Workshop may be over after this year but I am still going to be massively involved with the Perl community as I always have been. I am currently on the marketing committee for the Perl Foundation, and I run the Enlightened Perl Organisation. In terms of my involvement in other Perl events, I will also be part of the organising team for the FLOSSUK conferences that will be running next year.

As for the London Perl Workshop, I won’t be leaving it behind completely and I think I will still be somewhat involved with producing materials for the event etc. But I will ultimately be leaving it to the new LPW organisers to do great things and take the event forward.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mark for his collaboration and support in welcoming us into the Perl market and his passion for the Perl community. It’s been an honour working with Mark and we wish him the best of luck for the future!

We are looking forward to attending the London Perl Workshop on Saturday and we are looking to forward to catching up with old faces in the Perl community. Rick won’t be giving a talk at this year’s event, but if you have any questions about the Perl Jobs market come and find us at our pink Eligo stand!