Computing Thoughts

Bruce Eckel's Programming Blog

Aug 2, 2015 - 3 minute read

Python Conference 2015 In Montreal

Pycon is a community-organized conference, and if it’s not already there it’s steadily evolving towards a Teal organization (what I’ve started calling a Trust Organization). It’s not controlled from the top, so lots of people make great things happen. One example I discovered at this conference: some 50 (I think) students are fully sponsored to come to the conference. When you speak at Pycon, you still pay all your expenses and your entrance fee. I’m completely happy to do this when the money is used in such a good manner.

Something I’ve really come to love about modern conferences is the quality of video presentations that are produced and distributed on the web. I think this is evolution in action: the new format is big slides, taken directly from the slide deck so they are extremely clear. Next to that is a smaller inset of the speaker, because people have figured out that you don’t get that much from seeing the speaker. Sometimes it’s helpful, but most of the information is in the presentation material and the audio. So those two things have gotten better and better, and the speaker window has gotten appropriately smaller. This means that watching the video is often a better experience than attending the session in person – and you can spend your conference time talking to people instead of sitting in sessions. Despite that, people still come to sessions, and I think having an audience focuses and gives energy to the speaker (I attended the TED conference in Denver and I’ve come to believe that TED treats the audience’ sole task as focusing the speaker).

I’ve seen some conferences that hold back the release of sessions until the next conference is imminent, as a marketing tool. Pycon doesn’t do that; it gets the sessions on Youtube as soon as possible, because that serves the mission of helping people learn Python.

Here are the notes that I captured on my phone during the conference, things that sounded interesting, in no particular order:

The next two years Pycon will be in Portland, which is great, and such a good fit for Pycon. For example, when you fly into the airport you can just get directly onto the tram which takes you right to the conference center and surrounding hotels. In contrast, OSCON, which has ironically gotten tremendously commercial, will no longer reside in Portland after some 17 years.