I'm very interested in seeing where this project goes, but I do think its not fair to say Perl is super slow. For certain things there are extension packages like PDL (Perl Data Language, see http://pdl.perl.org/ that can be incredible fast.
Don't think you are as needed as you suppose. As the saying goes, "The graveyard is filled with people once thought of as irreplaceable."
I understand the feeling, you want the job to be more than just a relationship of convenience and profit. It seldom works out like that. It might feel that way for a while, but hit an economic downturn, or face a suddenly buyout or change in upper management and you'll soon see the reality. You need to do what is in your personal best interest, taking everything into account (not just the money). If it was in the best interest of the company to lay you off, they'd do it in an instant, and likely with a lot fewer qualms as you feel now.
Check it out: Just blogged about Moose Roles and Method traits
Just finished up a new blog post Communicating Value: This is Our World and Perl is My Choice!. Hope you can stop by, take a long and leave a comment!
I'm sorry you inherited a complex, and idiomatic perl application. However I don't think its fair, computer scientist or not, to project that experience onto the entire modern Perl ecosystem. Good luck with your career.
The ships are BIG, neither are sinking anytime soon.
If you want a job now, you probably should spend time on Perl5, since the bulk of work is there today. But if you want to join a dynamic community which is building a cool new language from scratch, and where you individual efforts can have a huge impact, you might want to check out Perl 6. That's my thoughts at least.
I invested a lot of time mastering Perl, and continue to add to it everyday. I'm not unhappy about that bit at all. I think you get what you give. If you make the effort to be part of the community of Perl, to contribute code, write docs, blogs, anything, like patches or new ideas, you get a lot more out of it. And I get well paid to do it everyday. I'm sorry for those that had a different experience, but if you want to get back to Perl I am open to helping out, feel free to message me.
I guess tomorrow will be like most others, I'll go to work and get well paid to write Perl.
Thank you for giving us, the Perl community, the benefit of the doubt. The world is big, and there's lots of room for intelligent people to have rationally based differences.
There definitely are: http://wiki.catalystframework.org/wiki/sitesrunningcatalyst
And thats just those written in Catalyst (a Perl MVC web development framework). Thanks for giving us the benefit of the doubt?
To me the biggest reason people don't hear much about perl is because its proponents and users are too busy getting stuff done.
Or spending our time writing docs, blogs or more open source code to add to the vast opensource Perl ecosystem.
I'm glad mucking with Perl worked out for you. But there's a lot of modern Perl programmers turning out beautiful, terse and elegant code. So please don't globalize your experience. I wrote a Java applet once in 1995 but I don't keep saying that's all Java is good for.
That's just those using Catalyst (a popular Perl based Model View Controller system) but if you glance down the list you are going to see some huge sites with big, big traffic loads. All new stuff, things launched within the past two/three years max. BBC iPlayer alone is one of the heaviest hit sites on the web, and that's Perl.
So you are wrong in your guess that "80%" of Perl programmers are sysadmins writing cron jobs. Whoever modded you up should have done a bit of checking, because marking your opinion as insightful is highly inaccurate.
There have been several new Perl books written just for Catalyst in the past two years, so just because you are not finding anything new for Mason (which is probably not the framework of choice for the modern Perl programmer anyway) that is not much of an indicator. There's tons of FREE docs and examples for Perl in any case (http://search.cpan.org/)
As far as Google's lack of commitment to Perl, well, I'm sorry to hear about that, but that's one company. Google Appengine is a pretty small garden, and the Perl interpreter has trouble running under its confinement. To be honest, Python doesn't run everything under appengine either, you need to write code for appengine. I think getting PHP or other languages to run under it will be equally difficult.
If you want to program in Perl on the cloud you have a ton of options, such as EC2, Rackspace cloud and pretty much any cloud provider with an open system (not Appengines walled garden) Oh, and if you want a smarter search engine, trying http://duckduckgo.com/, which is written in Perl and I find more useful than Google search.
I realize that the Perl community needs to do a better job showing that we are not stuck in 1998, so I forgive your lack of knowledge in this matter. I do actually appreciate the opportunity to discuss it, since this is really the only way this perception problem with be solved. However I hope you can meet me halfway and do a bit of checking on modern Perl before you make such sweeping judgments again. Because to be honest this exact opinion you've expressed I've seen over and over again for several years, and it's totally different from what I see everyday, as a fulltime, highly paid Perl programmer for at least 15 years. Take a look at Moose (http://moose.perl.org/) if you think Perl's OO is lagging, or Plack (http://plackperl.org/) if you think Mason and mod_perl is all we have, for example. Our community is smart, diverse, highly active and strongly focused on the next 20 years of Perl.
Just finished up: http://jjnapiorkowski.vox.com/library/post/design-patterns-in-modern-perl.html which is about a new project to rethink classic design patterns from a dynamic language viewpoint.