PyCon 2008: An Overview

I attended my first PyCon this year.  It was in Chicago, and I was able to take Amtrak from Ann Arbor to Chicago (for only $27!).  The trip was quite pleasant, and I will say that I am definitely going to take Amtrak to Chicago again in the future.  My kids are already looking forward to it (to wit: do not tell a 2 year old that we will take the choo choo train "someday"; that's way too similar to "Sunday").

Anyhow, I arrived in time for tutorials.  I had signed up for 3, and they ran from about 9 am until 9 pm.  I was wiped out by the end of the day.  Two tutorials would have been plenty!

The conference was interesting. I met up with some of the devchix, who I had previously only been acquainted with online.  We decided to arrange a Birds of a Feather session and invite all of the women who were in attendance.  I was surprised to notice that a lot more women seem to attend Python conferences than Java or .NET conferences.  Interesting ….  In any case, we had our meetup.  About a dozen people showed up, and we had conversations that ranged from computer science education to how people felt about the bathroom on the lower level being redesignated for "men".  On the latter, it didn't really bother me (there were a LOT more men there than women, and time between sessions was short).  OTOH, it would have made sense just to have made the bathroom gender-neutral, I suppose (which is what we did at the Java Posse Roundup).

I went to a variety of talks, including some open spaces sessions.  I also went to lightning talks.  These were noted by others as a huge bonus of the conference in years past, but as Bruce Eckel noted, they were a bust this year, dominated by vendor talks.  Fortunately, the conference organizers are open-minded and DO listen to attendees.  They have already said that they will not open lightning talks to vendors in the future, and that responsiveness is what I have learned is pretty common in the Python Community (and in community-based conferences in general).

Conference sessions are starting to be put online. You can access them at