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Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.

by deprecated (Priest)
on Feb 21, 2001 at 13:18 UTC ( #59884=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hello, Monks.

One of our new users, Dusk, and I have been talking a lot about perl lately. I've been doing my best to share what knowledge I have, and be there to answer questions for him as so many people have done for me (notably on dalnet and openprojects irc, as well as right here in the monastery). The more I talk to him, the more I realize that the books I have are very important to me in learning. I have everything from Learning Perl to Advanced Perl Programming. Ive got non-oreilly books, and I think I just finished my oreilly perl collection this evening with the mod_perl book. The point is, the more I talk to Dusk, I wish there were some way for me to share these books with him. I happen to be fortunate enough that I have a few extra copies of books just because I've bought copies of books I had lost or didn't think I had. Dusk, however, doesnt have the ability to just "accidentally" purchase a $35 book. If you would read his home node, you might discover that Dusk is probably one of our youngest monks, at 14. I have another friend in Kentucky, who, while he grasps the concepts of perl, doesnt quite have the full understanding that Programming Perl brings. Wally, my friend in Kentucky, doesnt think he can afford the book. They really are expensive, when it gets down to it.

So I have agreed to send both of them a couple of my extra books. I was thinking, though, that maybe if youre 14 and you cant just buy a $40 book, or if youre 30 and you just dont have the money because things are tight, it seems like a lot of money. But on the scale of the financial institutions we have in this world, $30-40 a month is really not very much money at all. I got to thinking that with a little effort, I could begin a self-renewing scholarship to purchase a perl book every month for a beginner who needed a little bit of help and some text. If you work on it in terms of a CD, just a few thousand dollars would be able to generate $30 a month. In six months, you determine who needs the books the most, and send them each one.

There are several issues that struck me as being important, and I'm not going to address the money issue just yet.

  • What books do we send people?
  • Who determines who gets the books?
  • What qualifies somebody as "worthy" to receive a book?
What books do we send people?

Well, I thought about this. I see two ways to do this. First, I know some of us have extra books around. I have a copy of Camel 1 and a pair of Camel 2. I have an extra copy of Advanced Programming in Perl, I have an extra copy of the Coriolis Black Book, I have an extra copy of Mastering Algorithms with Perl. I might even be willing to part with my personal copy of the Llama.

What's to say we dont have, collectively, quite a few extra books we could afford to just redistribute to people who needed them?

On top of that, I think probably, that there should be an option for either the Llama or the Camel, but also, there are some Newbie books that have come out of Manning that I dont know anything about. I think it would certainly be possible for people to nominate books for winners of the "scholarship" to receive.

I dont think the matter of picking books is particularly difficult to figure out.

Who determines who gets the books?

I think other than the money issue, this is going to be the sticking point to see if it can be accomplished as a community. I'd like to say "well, me!" but that isnt the way things work. I dont know that I have the time to review people who would apply for it. I want to be able to do this, but there is clearly a need for other people to help. I dont see why I couldnt just form a panel of my perl peers, and I suspect a couple people will get in touch with me after reading this message. This issue remains wide open.

What qualifies somebody as "worthy" to receive a book?

Well, This is also something that can be left rather open-ended for the moment. Since we're not really looking for accomplished perl programmers, we cant really say, "submit perl code that makes you worth of Advanced Perl Programming"... Does such a person really need APP? I think usually what Cereal Companies do for small scholarships is they have an essay contest of sorts and say "Explain in 500 words or less what &#lt;perl&#gt; means to you" or "what would you do with this new llama you would like?" This part is not very difficult to get down, and I suspect a lot of input is out there for this.

the big question. Money.

Well, I thought about this too. I am very very strongly behind this and I am quite willing to contribute financially what I can to the cause, and probably whatever happens here, I will try my hardest to make something possible. When I woke up one day and realized how many extra books I had, I was overjoyed to know that I would be able to share them with people.

However, when I think about it, I realize that probably, as I mentioned before, the amount of money involved is really trivial for the likes of big business. I think its extremely good publicity for a company to contribute something to a community as cohesive as ours. Furthermore, as Apple attempts to do with colleges, if you reach somebody when theyre learning, you imprint upon them. I know the reason I am so fervent about oreilly books is that I learned perl reading them. I have lots of Randal Schwartz and Tom Christiansen style in my code, as well as Alligator Descartes and Damian Conway. (I dare not compare my code to that of St. Larry)

I think perhaps companies will be interested in supporting an endeavour like this. Depending on what I hear today and in the next couple days, I will talk to people I know about writing a proposal such as the one I have sort of paraphrased here and see if I cant get something done in legalese and proper-like (because it would seem necessary).

I encourage you to e-mail me regarding this. Even if I dont get this off the ground and into something institutionalized, if you want me to find homes for your old and not-quite-in-your-lap perl books, I am happy to do that. I have all I need, and I'm not going to be doing it for me.

Alex Avriette
Brother Dep.

transcending "coolness" is what makes us cool.

  • Comment on Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by merlyn (Sage) on Feb 21, 2001 at 19:04 UTC
    I'll offer to send books to anyone at my cost, if it's in support of this task. I get 50% off O'Reilly books, and something like 20% or 30% off AWL books. Please bump in a little for shipping and tax in the appropriate states.

    I take Paypal, and that's probably the easiest way to do this. Just use as the designee, and copy me on some email so I know what the money is for.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

      I cam accross this link in an email this week. Basically it will set up a program to allow you to donte money to whomever set this up. Most credit card places have a lot of garbage to go thru regarding cc donations/intellectual property,but this might be worth it. I think it will pretty much allow donations to be taken for this cause. I know it is from amazon and the bad taste that that they bring to a lot of people involved with opensource/programming- but i think this cause is worth it. Is there some way we can put this ask for dollar idea on a website to tie in with merlyn's reduced rate?
      WARNING:I have no affiliation, and never have used this company. I just read this link from an online html news letter.
        The question is whether the cause justifies giving Amazon money--something I can't answer for everyone, but note that Amazon is not doing this out of the goodness of its heart:

        "The Amazon Honor System does not charge registration fees, set-up fees, or fixed participation fees. We do, however, charge transaction fees based on the amount of money you receive. The fee schedule is very simple. For each payment you receive, we will charge $0.15 plus 15% of the total transaction amount. The person making a payment is not charged any fees at all."

        'Amazon Honor System' is a trademark.
        Quoted text was found at the URL specified in the previous node although I knew about it already from an article in The Register.

Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by neshura (Chaplain) on Feb 21, 2001 at 14:14 UTC
    I am almost ashamed to be in the same monastery as you, brother deprecated. :)

    I just made a couple trips to the garage to carry down books I don't use anymore -- most of them technical, but very few of them Perl (I use the Perl ones). They could be put to better use, and you have mentioned a great use for them.

    I have an idea to help you get this started: wishlists! You can make a wishlist for your young friends, or let them make their own on your recommendations. I have used craig's list to directly purchase art supplies for the schools in the SF Bay Area that don't see any of the Silicon Valley fortune. The hard part is getting people to remember to do it.

    I waver on the point about investing in a charity fund. I find it hard to refute the point that I could better invest the money myself and use the proceeds directly (which I do). However, that argument has been twisted around for various reasons, and I will not get into the politics of tax evasion.

    I applaud your idea and would be delighted to contribute (despite being jobless) in whatever way I can. Email me if you would like to know the titles of a few of the tech books I'd be willing to send out to interested parties.

    e-mail neshura

Wealthy monks of the world unite ;-)
by arhuman (Vicar) on Feb 21, 2001 at 14:34 UTC
    I think you're project and your attitude is great !

    Btw even if this month I can't give much, you can count on my (small) financial support next month.
    (oops ! now it's written I can't go back ;-)
    I hope other monks will follow, and offer a book to newcomers...
    As I fear big company won't push much in this project,
    I think that we must count only on the brotherhood ;-)

    Here are my 2 cents idea for determining who should get those books :
    Why not make them a prize for new quests ?
    (If possible not 'technical' quests, but reviews, interviews, any useful action requiring only good will...)

    UPDATED : I removed the link to the O'reilly books (HTML copies), as some people told me it was illegal...
    Until proven the contrary, I prefer to let things this way...

Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by Blue (Hermit) on Feb 21, 2001 at 18:35 UTC
    Truly a great idea. One additional idea, which gives the books a different distribution path, is donating books to your local library. Makes the books available for those who are interested but may not know of our monastery.

    Any way to get the knowledge out there is a wonderful thing.

    =Blue might be eaten by a grue...

Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks. (library)
by ybiC (Prior) on Feb 21, 2001 at 18:57 UTC
    Kudos and ++ to you, brother dep, for your intent and efforts!

    Have you considered donating the books to public libraries in the (cities|towns) where the requesters live?   That way *multiple* fresh perlers could benefit from each book.   I wish I could take credit for the idea, but gtwd proposed it a while back at "Please help your local library".

    Update: Hmmmm... Blue and kudra were both quicker than I.   Serves me right for wandering off to breakfast before hitting "submit". 8^)
        striving for Perl Adept
        (it's pronounced "why-bick")

Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by nivlac (Scribe) on Feb 22, 2001 at 02:39 UTC
    Being one of the monks who treads with soft footsteps, I don't open my big yap too often. However when I saw this idea, I needed to respond. I think it's a wonderful idea. Not only is the original idea good, but even donating to libraries is a gesture worthy of praise.

    Should you need help with implimenting this idea, I'd be more then happy to help. If you don't need another set of fingers at a keyboard, I'm sure monitary aide would be appreciated

    However I would almost push the idea a little bit further. Put together a small set of perl learning books, 3-5 copies of each book. Then seek out a sympathetic High School Computer teacher. Tell them if they're willing to get their students into Perl programming, you've got a small library of books to give them to help get them started. Not only that you could plug the monastery as an online place to get help. I'm not a teacher (yet) but I'm guessing that giving a teacher a push, and showing them a helpful support network that can aid their students could easily overcome any lack of knowledge on their part. This kind of work could branch off into monks visiting schools and what not, or inviting students to PM group meetings, but I digress.

    Having said my piece, I'll lurk over here for a while.


    Update: Silly me, I just reread my post again, and realized I left part unclear. I'm not advocating donating 3-5 copies of each and every book given out. Just put together a set of maybe 3 good starter books and have 3-5 copies of each book.
Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by Albannach (Monsignor) on Feb 22, 2001 at 01:00 UTC
    Let me add my ++deprecated for a great idea and a well-written node

    My first thought was that loaning books would be a better idea than giving them as it would put some pressure on the recipient to take the offer seriously, with the goal of minimizing frivilous applications, and being able to recycle the material further (e.g. the recipient gets a great COBOL job and doesn't need the book, so he/she sends it back to the master librarian). Of course this would require an infrastructure that was growing out of control in my head, then I realized that we already have an appropriate infrastructure: existing libraries. All the contributors need do is maintain an on-line list of what books went where, so that a new monk could see if there were suitable resources near their location. If not, the eager reader could apply to the contributors to have a new location added to the list, and the next donated book would go there.

    Basic outline:

    • each donation would still be done entirely by the individual who would purchase and ship the book
    • the list (which would include verified shipping addresses and contact names) would help to direct donations to sites where at least one interested monk expressed interest in using them, but not to the exclusion of all others
    • the receiving library would take care of the books with no additional administration required of the contributors
    • contributors could donate books anywhere (including the library|college|community centre down the street), then add them to the list
    • monks could ask for new locations to be added to the list for their own benefit
    • each book could have a gift plate of some type in the cover mentioning the donor and perhaps the "Perl Monks Donate-a-Book Registry" (?)

    After thinking about it, this should obviously be much bigger than Perl, and could apply to any technical books. I wonder if ACM or IEEE or similar have book programmes already?

    I'd like to be able to assign to an luser

(kudra: library) Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by kudra (Vicar) on Feb 21, 2001 at 18:43 UTC
    A similar idea was brought up a while ago where the author suggested donating books to libraries. Part of the suggestion was to get companies to donate books, so it might be worth checking to see if anything came of that project.

    Update: Looks like Blue was faster.

Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by coreolyn (Parson) on Feb 21, 2001 at 19:38 UTC

    Great idea! While I don't think I have any books I can part with, I would donate small quantities of $$$ on-line for an idea ('quests') or whatever is proposed along these lines. I'd probably be able toss my some that way on a semi-regular basis.

    Possibly there are enough others to make it viable? If everyone tossed a few bucks into a bucket each month combined with Randal's offer that's quite a few books. (No matter what, there's going to need to be some $$$ needed for shipping)


Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by bladx (Chaplain) on Feb 21, 2001 at 20:28 UTC
    You've probably read this type of reply enough...but this is a super idea deprecated! I'm a new programmer to Perl myself... and only being 16 I really don't have any sufficient funds to pay for ANY Perl books other than like checking books out in the public library and so on.

    If you really did start a charity fund for Perl programming books like you said in your idea... that'd be cool for people less fortunate like me and dusk and many others out there that would benefit from it too!

    The only question I would have about this would be like stated earlier too: how would you determine where the money was gathered at...(where people would donate too...) and also how you would determine how people could get a free Perl programming bool.

    Thanks for listening...

    bladx ~ heh heh heh...
      Make that two of us. As mentioned above, the time limit at the library is a BIG problem. My local library has a couple books, but it takes a lot of time to absorb all that info in those books, especially when you're still in high-school!
Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by cajun (Chaplain) on Feb 22, 2001 at 13:45 UTC
    A most excellent idea Brother Dep. Your idea combined with the 'beginner's corner' someone brought up a couple of days ago, would go a long way to help those who really wanted to learn Perl. Count me in if I can support this effort in any way. A very definate ++
      Oh yes. Very good idea. I too am <ahem> somewhat financially challenged, and unable to buy many books. I recently renewed my copy of "Learning Perl on Win32 Systems" -- I tried to check out the more advanced, non-Win32 books, but they are all already checked out... since I don't have arbitrary library access, someone has usually checked them out the night after they are returned -- the early bird gets the worm... Oh well. But yes, I think this would be good.
Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by SilverB1rd (Scribe) on Feb 21, 2001 at 20:26 UTC
    2 bad there is not alot of space to put a second add on this site for charity. Maybe it could be an option in the users prefs.
    One problem with libraries you only get the book for a few days.
Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by Fingo (Monk) on Feb 27, 2001 at 05:51 UTC
    Another idea: give books to schools. Also consult them,as in install perl...
Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by dmckee (Scribe) on Feb 24, 2001 at 02:41 UTC
    Yes. This would be an amazing system. I'm not entirely sure about the library idea - I've heard that some of the 'introduction to Perl' books are a great help, but aren't vastly needed after the initial few weeks. Perhaps we could sort out a system where after a period between one and three months the introduction books get recycled around (ie: sent to the next person in the list)... but postage is an expensive option.

    Having said that, I have got twenty quids worth of booktokens around here somewhere, so the next time I go to shop IRL, I think I might get some words of wisdom from the pen of Schwartz.

    Oh, and if you want books, go work in the Library. That's always been my plan...

    Whenever I hear his name I always think of spaceballs: the movie

Re: Diffusing Knowledge and Fortune to the Less Wise and Less Fortunate Monks.
by Fingo (Monk) on Feb 27, 2001 at 05:29 UTC
    I propose sending all the books to one person, where the s&h is payed by the sender. This person then redistributes the books to whoever wants one. Aother idea is to get Orielly to sponser this. They would take our money and record how much is in the fund. Then when somone neds a book, they would simply ship a brand new book to the person and subtract fro the fund occordingly. I hope they will be willing to help.
      I like your idea, but I'd hate to be the one with a basement full of books... I doubt a publisher would want to sponsor this since they are in the business of selling books. Funds can also be problematic for managing. There are the nagging questions of who gets a book and why.

      Mike -

      "The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen... and stupidity."
      Harlan Ellison

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