The Perl Conference

Steve A. Chervitz
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 13:11:21 -0700 (PDT)


>   I just wanted to let you know that I've been invited to give a short
> (15-20) minute talk about bioperl at the Perl Conference in
> mid-August.  

Great news!

> My plan is to spend about 5 mins each on introducing
> molecular biology and biological data, explaining
> common computational tasks, and (finally) introducing bioperl.
>   If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.
>   I would be interested in ideas about what the "goal" of the talk
> should be.  That is, what impression do we want to make on the "Perl
> world"?

I think your plan is good, given that this will not be a  
computational biology audience.  As for a goal, I see two different 
tacks: pushing perl for biology and pushing biology for perl. By 
inviting you, the organizers are pushing biology for perl, saying, "Perl 
is cool: look what it can do for molecular biology". Along these lines, 
we can show how perl (the language and the various perl resources like 
cpan) is well-suited to our tasks.

The goal of bioperl, however, is to push perl for biology, saying 
"re-usable software components for molecular biology is cool: look how 
this can be done with perl."  This goal addresses the computational  
biologists, rather than people who are just interested in the "Power of 
Perl" in general.  (Actually, our goal is not so much to _promote_ perl 
as to _use_ perl to get things done. By using it we're promoting it, 
too. ;) 

These two tacks are just different sides of the same coin. The talk 
should have enough appeal for the computational biologist but enough 
background so that non-computational biologists can see how perl is 
being used.

Some possible points to include:

  -- the proliferation of data from genome sequencing projects
     (& why would anyone want to sequence a genome?)
  -- the proliferation of biological databases on the web
  -- the above two things have made biology more computable
     and have increased the need for intelligent, adaptable software 
     usable by potentially many people.

>   Also, they permit me to make hand-outs, which I would have to make
> up by the end of this week.  I think that people are more likely to
> walk away from the talk with something useful if I can put it in
> writing.  Does anyone have any opinions about what might be useful
> here?

The handout is a good idea.  Here are some possible things to include:

  -- Key URLs:	bioperl homepage, on-line presentation(*).
  -- Abstract for your talk (**).
  -- List of available Bio:: modules and short description of what they do.
  -- List of planned Bio:: modules and modules under construction.
  -- Reference to the up-and-coming TPJ article (just a minder to look 
     for bioperl in an up-and-coming issue.)
  -- How to subscribe to the bioperl mailing list.

(*) You could have an on-line version of your talk or indicate that an 
on-line presentation (from OiB-97) is available from the bioperl 
homepage. I expect that this on-line presentation will be updated as  
necessary as things change and could be used as a permanent on-line 
poster for bioperl. This brings up maintenance issues, however.

(**) Getting an abstract together this week may be impossible. But you 
could include a brief bioperl "mission statement". We could talk more 
about what such a statement would be.

This will be a great opportunity for bioperl!