Simon Willison’s Weblog


183 items tagged “conferences”


Katherine Michel’s PyCon US 2024 Recap (via) An informative write-up of this year’s PyCon US conference. It’s rare to see conference retrospectives with this much detail, this one is great! # 3rd June 2024, 9:31 am

How to PyCon (via) Glyph’s tips on making the most out of PyCon. I particularly like his suggestion that “dinners are for old friends, but lunches are for new ones”.

I’m heading out to Pittsburgh tonight, and giving a keynote (!) on Saturday. If you see me there please come and say hi! # 15th May 2024, 3:29 pm

NICAR 2024 Tipsheets & Audio. The NICAR data journalism conference was outstanding this year: ~1100 attendees, and every slot on the schedule had at least 2 sessions that I wanted to attend (and usually a lot more).

If you’re interested in the intersection of data analysis and journalism it really should be a permanent fixture on your calendar, it’s fantastic.

Here’s the official collection of handouts (NICAR calls them tipsheets) and audio recordings from this year’s event. # 11th March 2024, 1:14 am


Weeknotes: Citus Con, PyCon and three new niche museums

I’ve had a busy week in terms of speaking: on Tuesday I gave an online keynote at Citus Con, “Big Opportunities in Small Data”. I then flew to Salt Lake City for PyCon that evening and gave a three hour workshop on Wednesday, “Data analysis with SQLite and Python”.

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Breaking Cliques at Events. Eric proposes a new guideline for long-running conferences, which have a tendency to form somewhat insular cliques of the attendees who have been going the longest: “For every year you have attended the event, you should try to meet that many new people each day.” # 3rd December 2017, 1:51 am

The Pac-Man Rule at Conferences. This is such a good idea from Eric Holscher: at the conferences he organizes he tells his attendees “When standing as a group of people, always leave room for 1 person to join your group”—to encourage networking and inclusive converations. # 17th November 2017, 2:34 am

How the CIA Staged Sham Academic Conferences to Thwart Iran’s Nuclear Program. “The importance of a conference may be measured not only by the number of Nobel Prize winners or Oxford dons it attracts, but by the number of spies. U.S. and foreign intelligence officers flock to conferences for the same reason that Army recruiters concentrate on low-income neighborhoods: They make the best hunting grounds. While a university campus may have only one or two professors of interest to an intelligence service, the right conference — on drone technology, perhaps, or ISIS — may have dozens.” # 12th October 2017, 12:20 am


How can I negotiate a free conference venue in London?

The two top options in my experience are universities (including student unions) and private companies with good meeting facilities.

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Aside from Google I/O, does Google organize any other conferences?

They run a whole bunch, but many of them aren’t widely advertised—they have a lot of invite-only events for customers of their advertising tools, for example, and there are things like the Google Analytics Summit.

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What are Good Conferences for SaaS Marketers?

Business of Software has a very good reputation.

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Where can I find a list of web and tech business conferences happening across the world this year?

Our site should be able to help you with this. We have a large crowd sourced directory of conferences and professional events—we should have most international events in the web/tech verticals, and you can add any that we are missing yourself!

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For a 2-day developer conference in SF, which two days of the week are best?

It depends on the topic and the audience.

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What are good topics for panel discussions?

Anything that’s controversial in your industry, especially if it’s a recent debate. Just make sure that your panelists disagree—there’s nothing more boring than a panel where everyone has exactly the same opinion.

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Are there more annual TED and TED-related conferences than there are days in the year?

According to there were 245 community-run TEDx events in 61 countries in just the last month, so yes it’s safe to say there are considerably more annually than there are days in the year.

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Did you submit a proposal for a conference before you actually learned/understood the topic you’ve proposed to talk about?

I’ve submitted proposals for talks on subjects which I have familiarity with, but need to research more thoroughly before giving the actual presentation. Preparing to teach others is an excellent way of learning a topic yourself.

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Outside of hotels, what are some good SF venues to host small conferences?

There are plenty of tech companies in SF with good facilities who might host a small, relevant conference, often for free (as a venue sponsor).

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Is it normal for conferences to charge a registration fee from selected authors?

It depends very much on the type of conference. I believe charging speakers is quite common in academic conferences—presumably because there are plenty of niche academic conferences where almost all of the attendees are speaking or presenting a paper.

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Where can I sell the tickets of a conference I won’t be attending?

Most conferences are too niche to support a full scale online marketplace for unwanted tickets -it’s not like concert tickets where millions of people might want to buy your unused Kylie tickets.

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What are the conference/meet-ups on JavaScript that accept guest speakers?

We have a crowdsourced list of JavaScript events that are accepting speaker submissions here: JavaScript conference calls for participation

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When is a good day to hold a conference?

It depends on your audience.

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I have an idea for a conference. What do I need to do to make it happen?


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Other than CL, Yelp and Eventbrite, what are some good online event calendars to post to?

Make sure you are listed on—and don’t forget to add you event’s speakers and tag it with the relevant topics (e.g. )

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Event Planning: What are some useful books and resources on professional events and conference planning? is fantastic. It focuses on running small tech conferences, but there’s plenty of advice in there that applies to all sizes of event.

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I would like to attend a Big Data conference but I am short of funds. Is there any big data conference that helps students attend those conference through scholarship?

The traditional route for students who can’t afford to attend a conference is for them to volunteer. Contact event organisers of Big Data conferences that look relevant and ask if they are looking for volunteers.

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Getting the most out of technical conference as a services provider?

Leaving flyers out if you are not a sponsor will annoy both the event organiser and the other sponsors, and may give a bad impression to other attendees as well.

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What is a good list of conferences, speaking gigs, hackathons, and other technology-centric events where one can reach software architects and developers?

We have a pretty comprehensive list of (mostly tech) conferences in the Midwest USA here:

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Is it a good idea to wear your startup shirt in a tech conference?

If you are there to talk to people about your startup then sure, why not? Even better if your shirt says “ask me about X”—it’s cheesy but it works.

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What honorarium is befitting for a guest speaker apart from money?

Here are a few ways you can treat your speakers really well.

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Events (leisure): How do you organize a conferencce?

Read—and good luck!

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How can I successfully organize a conference?

PPK’s conference organisers handbook is crammed with useful advice on running this kind of event:

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