I’ve been a great admirer of the Python community for many years now, starting with my efforts in a former life to secure meeting space for the Bay Area Python Interest Group and watching Python’s herculean feats throughout the Google Summer of Code program. I’ve been to several PyCons and Python related meetups and conferences, and it’s always a great pleasure to learn from the Pythonistas and see what this model project has implemented, both in terms of code and community nurturing. Or, to put it another way, PyCon: cool tech with a family reunion on the side.
PyCon 2012 was no exception. It was truly inspiring to see how much the community has grown over the six years I’ve been peripherally involved, and I was amazed to learn that this year’s PyCon welcomed more than 2,200 attendees and over 130 sponsor organizations. The conference sessions have been ably and amply covered elsewhere, and the organizers have already posted videos from each session. Rather than talking about all the topics covered during the presentations, I’ll be bringing you the best of the community bits.
PyCon 2012’s kickoff was notable in a number of ways, including these Python powered dancers:
Even more awesome (I know, it’s hard to top robots) was the heartfelt introduction from the conference co-chair, Jesse Noller. Jesse let all of us in the audience know that PyCon has been his labor of love as a way of giving thanks to all the support his family has received from the Python community. For those of you who don’t know Jesse, he’s an overachiever in all the best possible ways and he and his have had a rough time of it this past year. Jesse’s description of the numerous ways people have stepped up to give comfort in their time of need was incredibly moving, both for him and for those of us listening.
Stormy Peters’ keynote focused on the power of preserving choice and innovation on the Internet. Stormy, Head of Developer Engagement at Mozilla, treated us to a demo of Collusion, an experimental add-on for Firefox that allows users to see all the third parties that are tracking one’s movements across the web, and some tips for fostering community growth. (The Python community does a truly awesome job with this task.) My key takeaway from Stormy’s keynote comes just seconds into her presentation: developers have the responsibility to make sure that users remain well educated about and in control of their destiny on the web.
Paul Graham of YCombinator returned to once again keynote PyCon. For those who may not know, Paul was the first keynote speaker at the first ever PyCon back in 2003. Paul’s remarks focused on Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas, and his suggestions were ambitious indeed: replace things like email, Google, Hollywood and universities with something bigger, better, faster and stronger. My key take away from Paul’s talk: “you’d expect big startup ideas to be attractive, but actually they tend to repel you” due to their seeming impossibility.
“Whenever powerful people are in pain, that’s an opportunity to make lots of money” — @paulg at #pycon
Throughout the conference, attendees were invited to suggest sessions for the conference’s open space.
Combining the best aspects of BoFs, unconferences and the hallway track, the PyCon open space sessions rocked. My personal favorite? Capoeira.
Speaking of open spaces, the exhibit hall this year was absolutely packed. PyCon had 136 sponsors this year and the attendees were treated to all things Pythonic, with applications on display in the collaboration, scientific, social, humanitarian and health arenas. In particular, the show floor was abuzz with talk of the cloud, from IaaS providers like Amazon and Rackspace to the promise of PaaS + Python.
And after a long day of learning in sessions and on the show floor, what more could you ask for than a fine evening reception, courtesy of our partner, New Relic, and several other generous sponsors.
The evening’s festivities gave us a chance to rub shoulders with our fellow attendees and some fairly famous folk from the Python world and beyond.
On Saturday, we were treated to another round of excellent shindigs by the fine folks at SurveyMonkey. Special thanks to them for opening up the party early to welcome the PyLadies and give us an additional opportunity to hang out and talk tech amongst ourselves and allies. For those not familiar with PyLadies, they’re an international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community. They promote, educate and advance diversity in the Python community through outreach, education, conferences, events and social gatherings.
Sponsors kindly gave way on Sunday for the PyCon poster session, which kicked off after the morning keynotes.
The #pycon poster session is mind boggling.Python is everywhere
And while I enjoyed all of the posters I saw and the great conversations around them, but this one was my absolute favorite:
And now that we’ve come full circle, I have to admit I’ve left out a lot here: Guido’s keynote, Steve Holden’s farewell address as he announced his departure as Chair of the Python Software Foundation, Audrey Roy’s receipt of the Python Community Service Award, Jesse with a robot strapped to him in a Baby Bjorn. The community love at PyCon is palpable and so much more than I could ever hope to capture in a blog post. Thanks to everyone who made PyCon 2012 possible!
s/#sxsw/#pycon RT @evanpro Dear friend: we are both at #sxsw and I may not see you here. I’m sorry. I totally still like you. Have fun.-Evan