Simon Willison’s Weblog


DjangoCon and PyCon UK

15th September 2008

September is a big month for conferences. DjangoCon was a weekend ago in Mountain View (forcing me to miss both d.Construct and BarCamp Brighton), PyCon UK was this weekend in Birmingham, I’m writing this from @media Ajax and BarCamp London 5 is coming up over another weekend at the end of this month. As always, I’ve been posting details of upcoming talks and notes and materials from previous ones on my talks page.

DjangoCon went really, really well. Huge thanks to conference chair Robert Lofthouse for pulling it all together in just two months and Leslie Hawthorne for making it all happen from Google’s end. Google’s facitilies were superb: the AV team were the best I’ve ever worked with and an army of Google volunteers made sure everything went smoothly. It’s hard to see how it could have gone better; the principle complaint we got was that at only two days it was hard to justify the travel, something which future DjangoCons will definitely address.

Every session was recorded and the videos should be going up on YouTube shortly are now up on YouTube. For the impatient, you can subscribe to an Atom feed of a YouTube search for “DjangoCon”. I recommend starting with Cal Henderson’s keynote “Why I hate Django” which was both funny and insightful in equal parts. Malcolm’s talk on ORM internals was another personal favourite.

PyCon UK was the second I’ve attended, but last year I only stayed for the first day. This time I stuck around and was enormously impressed by the grassroots feel of the conference and the enthusiastic atmosphere. I presented a tutorial on extending the Django admin and a lightning talk on Zeppelins, prepared two hours in advance after Jacob mentioned that the lightning talks were tending too much towards the technical side. It went down very well; I’m tempted to extend it to a half hour session for BarCamp London.

Unlike most conferences I attend, PyCon tickets included a sit-down dinner for all attendees complete with a “dramatic lecture” on the Lunar Society presented by Andrew Lound. This was a great fit for the conference, both for the Birmingham connection and the many analogies to the modern open source community—loose collaboration, patent concerns and what you might call an 18th century equivalent of the modern hacker ethic.

Next year the PyCon UK team will be hosting EuroPython, and I’m certain they’ll do an excellent job of it. Meanwhile, Rob has already started making plans for a Euro DjangoCon in around six months time, probably taking place in Prague.