Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Posted: Mar 8, 2006 3:36 PM
This is a topic I have often thought about.
I want to bring attention to Steve Holden's weblog post, that I think makes some really good points, mainly about the importance of selling the sizzle, not the steak. I agree with his comments. Steve's weblog is at http://holdenweb.blogspot.com/
Also, I like this page Steve has created http://www.squidoo.com/pythonology/
I've done my share of boosterism over the last five years, I did book reviews of Python books and got several of them slashdotted. It was fun to see the Amazon sales statistics of particular books sky rocket after being Slashdoted. Believe it or not, that's how I get my kicks. I'm a marketeer of 30 years experience in a completely different technical industry, but I wouldn't consider getting book reviews to be marketing per se, just effective boosterism.
What effective marketing might be is organizing to effectively multiply or magnify the results of individual efforts. That's why I like my Python411 podcast, with an amazing listenership, but I want to multiply its results by getting other Pythonistas to do guess podcasts; producing a better "product" than what I am dooing alone, but taking advantage of the distribution network already in place. I was fortunate in that not long after I started the podcast, Apple released the iTunes with support for podcasts, and the very first time promoted "indie" podcasts on the front page of iTunes music store, they highlighted Python411 as one of the 5 indy podcasts promoted in the technology category. This immediately made Python411 "popular".
In addition to selling the sizzle, or the benefits of Python to prospective users, is the importance of "buzz". Whether we like it or not, buzz is important. Python has had its share. I found Python after reading a quote by Guido about "Computer Programming for Everybody" in a book on the open source development movement. I also saw Python favorably mentioned online and in newsgroups.
It seems that another language, similar in some ways to Python, and attractive to some of the same people who might otherwise be attracted to Python, is getting more buzz all of a sudden than Python is. Whether we like it or not, this sets up a friendly competition. We didn't mind it when we were in the young upstart position nipping at Perl's heels.
To get more buzz for Python, one thing we should try to do is maximize the publicity we can get out of any milestones of significance.
Off the top of my head, I might list upcoming milestones as:
1. The Production release of IronPython, when it happens. This should be really big news, and all of us should "talk it up". Press releases are appropriate; they can't hurt, although I hear you when you say it doesn't usually seem to work when we put them out. Ideally, someone should be talking to Microsoft saying, please promote this and hype it. Show Microsoft that the Python community supports their efforts with Python. I hear our sister dynamic language with alot s of buzz right now, is burdened with a RoR creator who is openly antagonistic and insulting towards Windows and deplores those developers who use Windows, which is a bad marketing move if there ever was one. Let's try to fill the gap. I would never engage in negative marketing, but it wouldn't hurt if RoR's creator's public, online negative and insulting statements about Microsoft and Windows found their way to Jim Hugunin to use as he sees fit within Microsoft.
2. The Python 2.5 release is promotable. It's a big event, showcasing our successful, continuous development as opposed to a Perl 6 type drama. It is a milestone and there are some sizzle elements to it that can be emphasized.
3. Successful completion of this EU funded stage of PyPy is promotable. The sizzle might be that folks want to be associated with a programming language that is on the cutting edge.
4. Python on the Nokia Series 60 is cool, but somehow needs to be tied into a story about wide availability on handheld devices. We may not be quite ready to promote this aggressively yet. I am maintaining a "Python on Mobile Devices" web page on my site, but right now its still a little haphazard because support seems to come and go on particular devices. But soon-it will-be promotable .
5. PySense, Humanoid Robots, a Wearable System and Python is a story that has plenty of sizzle. I attended my first PyCon and that talk was dynamite; a human interest story, with plenty of high tech, high touch, and the young MIT professor is a sensationally good public speaker. I don't know if MIT would let us somehow promote that story more, but its worth asking the question. I would think that kind of story woudl be perfect for a tech journal to pick up.
I coudl see it on the coer of Linux World, Dr. Dobb's Journal, or any of a number of other magazines.
Anyway, that's just my two cents worth.