Last week I got back from PyCon 2011 and it was flabbergastingly
awesome. This was the first PyCon I'd ever been able to go to. In
previous years, I just read blog posts and watched session videos online.
Now that I've been, I realize how little of the conference is captured
in blog posts and session videos. Honestly, Doug and others are right
and the talks are maybe 1/5 of the conference if that. There's also:
- sprints that allow for in-person group collaboration
- giving lightning talks about things that are important to you to an
interested audience of 800+
- talking with people whose code you use
- talking with people who use your code
- talking with people who work on libraries that solve the same problems
but in different ways
- poster sessions
- the expo hall where a bunch of companies were hiring and a bunch of
groups are showing off what they're doing
- talking with people about non-Python things
- free t-shirts, mugs, stickers, and bottle openers (which turned out
to be very handy)!
- looking over peoples' shoulders and watching them use tools you've
never heard of
- meeting other people who also wrote a mocking library, micro web
framework, blogging system, or enum library (which covers at least
half the attendees)
Being part of the video crew, there was some talk about how videoing
the conference sessions reduces the number of people who go. Honestly,
if you don't go to PyCon because you think you get the same experience
from watching the videos that get posted online, you're horribly
I thought of some analogies to help understand:
- It's like seeing a 4x6 picture of a peach pie vs. having a slice sitting
in front of you that was just taken out of the oven and it's got a nice
honkin scoope of vanilla ice cream that's melting as you watch.
- It's like hearing a 15 second muzak-like ring tone of your favorite
song vs. listening to it being played live at a concert.
- It's like looking at a JPEG image saved with a quality of 10% of
your birthday party vs. being there. (You wouldn't skip your own
birthday party, would you?)
I don't want to belabor the point beyond that. There are other reasons
people don't go to PyCon that are perfectly valid. Not going because
the conference sessions are posted online and that's equivalent to
going to the conference is not one of them. I hadn't gone previously
because of money, classes, work and family issues. I regret it now.
While at PyCon, I was on the video crew and ran the camera in room 5
on Friday and Saturday. When I wasn't running the camera, I was
watching Carl, Ryan, Dave and others coordinate the video-recording
side of the conference. The amount of work, technology, and
calamity-preventing know-how that goes into videoing a conference
is awe-inspiring. Carl even took a moment to teach me how to coil
The Next Day Video crew have
all the videos currently posted on
They're working on encoding them in Ogg Theora so that I can post them on
Python Miro Community
with the Universal Subtitles
embed code making it possible to caption and translate these videos.
We've already worked out the workflow, so it's just a matter of finishing
up encoding and posting them.
and I gave a lightning talk about melding Python Miro Community with
Universal Subtitles. I'm really excited about this work. It makes these
videos more accessible which is really important. This work is funded
by a grant from the PSF. (Thank you!)
PyCon 2011 was amazing and I met a lot of amazing people, ate some great
food, participated in some great conversations, ...--it's hard not
to slide into absurd amounts of rampant hyperbole when talking about it.
Thank you so much to all the people who made this possible. PyCon is
a fantastic conference that's about people, building relationships, enabling
conversations, and reinforcing the community and the work you put into it
I feel the need for the obligatory I'm *passionate* about PyCon.