PyCon US 2013 was my first python conference and the experience was very interesting on a number of levels.
The conference was in Santa Clara, CA this year, which is pretty much the epicenter of the start up world for programmers and software engineers. I had never been to the Santa Clara area before so it was nice to get a limited view of the area. Sadly I did not get to travel around the area much. I went to the conference, stayed at the hotel and headed home right afterwards.
It was impressive seeing the number of people there. There were 2,500 attendees. That does not seem like a large number of people, but seeing them all in one room/area makes you realize that it is a fair number of people.
There were people from all walks of life, a nice cross section. Something like 30 - 40 languages were spoken and ladies made up around 20% of the attendees. The whole event felt very relaxed with a common theme of how to be accepting and inviting to those wanting to learn Python or programming in general.
The talks were many and wide ranging. Thankfully most of them should end up on pyvideo.org for everyone to access them. As soon as I got home I was looking up one of the talks I attended on Speaker Deck, trying to get more information about it and to test things out. Some of the talks were packed, so it is a good idea to get to them early. Otherwise you could be standing or peering over someone’s shoulder.
There were also a number of scheduled periods for 5 min lightning talks, which doesn’t sound like much, but it was impressive. The topics were all over the place, with a lot of humour involved. This is something you want to make sure you get to see.
The question becomes, do you need to go to these conferences. It costs a fair bit and requires a large amount of your time. You can get all the information you need from the Internet, videos and slides of the talks at the conference are uploaded. These you can access from the comfort of your home. So why go? Well, even with all those options, I would say that it is absolutely worth your while in going.
It is very intensive, a lot of knowledge being presented on a wide range of topics. So you are being exposed and challenged on a number of fronts that you would probably not even consider. You get to see/meet people that you normally would never. Being an introvert, networking is something I am terrible at, but you end up having no choice. It’s happening whether you like it or not. And it really wasn’t so bad, because everyone I met was really friendly and helpful.
The next PyCon US is in Montreal, Canada. That’s a lot closer for me, and I will be attending that one, if I have my way.
Lastly, a big shout out to all the volunteers in making PyCon US 2013 happen. Thank you!