Post-PyCon 2017 Thoughts

written by Eric J. Ma on 2017-05-21

pycon conferences python

This year's PyCon 2017 is over! Well, for me at least, as I head back to Boston, a place I've had to call home for the past 6 years.

I've noticed my Portland PyCons have felt different from my Montreal PyCons.

In Montreal, I felt more like a taker, a newcomer, a beginner. In Portland, I felt more like someone who could finally give back to the community. If anything, I hope I've been able to encourage others to also give back to the community.

In Montreal, with respect to the community, I felt like I had to slowly navigate a new landscape of networks with people. There, I met a bunch of people who first became my PyCon community mentors: Stuart Williams and Reuben Orduz, whose years of experience in the community and in life are way beyond mine, became long-distance friends with whom I would look forward to meeting with again at the next PyCon. Carol Willing, a fellow MIT alum whom I met at a SciPy conference, also likewise became a community mentor for me. They didn't have to do much: words of encouragement, encouraging us to contribute back while themselves leading the charge, and connecting people together.

These two years in Portland, I've instead started to get involved with the internal organization of PyCon, volunteering a bit of my time on the Financial Aid committee. That's where I got to meet even more people in the community, and in person too! LVH and Ewa, a husband-and-wife team who have made many community contributions. Karan Goel, a software engineer at Google who led FinAid this year and whom I shadowed for taking on next year's FinAid chair role (I think we'll just share the duties again like this year). Kurt, PSF's treasurer who's been doing this for decades, and even at his age, still loves programming, and who loves black decaf coffee. Brandon Rhodes, who is a Python community celebrity for his eccentricity and entertaining talks, who gave me many words of encouragement as I rehearsed my PyCon talk. Ned Jackson Lovely, for whom no words other than "positive energy radiating through everything he does" can best describe him.

I think the PyCon community has done the "community building" portion of coding really well, and I'm thankful to be able to be part of this community of people. At the end of the day, good code is about bringing a benefit to people. So at the end of the day, while programming is an act of making routine things efficient, it's ultimately still about people, not code in and of itself. Thank you, PyCon community, it's been really fun being a part of the community this far, and I'm looking forward to many more years too!